CARFAX is a great service. The vehicle report is complete and it gives me the peace of mind before I make a decision to purchase the vehicle.
However, one thing that I don't like about CARFAX is the price. A single CARFAX report costs $39.99 so I am forced to purchase the CARFAX report(s) only after I've narrowed my choices down to the last 1-2 cars.
Most of the information on the CARFAX report looked like it came from DMV, insurance, and NHTSA databases. So I asked myself, there had to be other less expensive vehicle history report options available.
But I am jumping ahead… Let's start off with…
What is a Vehicle History Report?
A vehicle history report (also called a VIN report), provides the specifications and history of a vehicle. Some VIN reports also include additional information like pricing, average cost to maintain and operate the vehicle, and local used car dealerships that have similar vehicles in-stock.
Each vehicle manufactured for the US since 1981 has an unique Vehicle Identification Number (or VIN) assigned to it. A vehicle's VIN is used by government agencies and private companies to refer to a specific vehicle in car registrations, auto insurance policies, and even auto loans.
If you want more information about the VIN, take a look at this article.
Now that you know the basics of a VIN report, the next logical question is…
Why do I need a Vehicle History Report?
In three words… piece of mind.
When you go shop for a used vehicle at a car dealership, the salesperson will normally show you the vehicle history report like a CARFAX on the vehicle that you are thinking about purchasing.
When you are buying a used vehicle from an individual (private party), the seller won't provide you with a vehicle report like the dealership. So you either have to take the seller in his/her word on the vehicle's accident history, odometer reading, etc. or you can purchase a vehicle report on you own.
Tip: If you are buying a used vehicle from a private party, you may want to also take the vehicle to your local mechanic to check the vehicle.
Why Not CARFAX?
CARFAX is a great service. They were one of the first companies to provide detailed vehicle history reports to consumers.
However, the cost of report is quite high. Here are the prices:
- One Report: $39.99
- 3 Reports: $59.99
- 6 Reports: $99.99
Sure, one could purchase more CARFAX reports to reduce the cost of each report down to around $16.67 (if you buy the 6 report bundle) but that would mean that you would have to pay almost $100 up front to get this discounted price.
What are Other Cheaper Vehicle History Report Options?
Let's take a look at some less expensive vehicle history report options that give you similar vehicle history information but at a much more affordable price.
The following vehicle report alternatives access similar if not the same databases and registries that CARFAX use. Like CARFAX, you can get a discounted price if you order multiple reports. If you are comparing multiple used vehicles, this is a great option for you.
OPTION 1: VINCheckPro
VINCheckPro has an option to purchase one report for $6.95 or 5 reports for $12.95. With the 5 report option, the cost of each report is only $2.59!
Like CARFAX, the VINCheckPRO report shows structural damage, lemon history, junk or salvage vehicle, odometer reading, total lost history, recalls & defects, accident history, title information, and of course, vehicle specifications.
OPTION 2: VinAudit
VinAudit has the option to purchase one report for $9.99. VinAudit does not have the option to purchase multiple reports like VINCheckPro.
VinAudit provides a similar report like VINCheckPro (vehicle specification, title records, junk/salvage/insurance records, accident records, theft records, lien/impound/export records, salvage auction records, sale records, title checks, etc.).
Additionally, the VinAudit report provides the market value of the vehicle, ownership cost, and other resources on the vehicle like retail value and the vehicle's NHTSA 5-star rating.