Not all dealers are honest. Most of them are but because there are some shady car sellers, services like CarFax need to exist. Many may not see the value of CarFax but the moment you get some understanding of how the application works, then you truly appreciate the value that it offers.
What Vehicle History Reports Do
Sites like CarFax are at their core an aggregator of car data. They check the vehicle to see if it had any accident, salvage title, mileage or if it was reported as stolen. All the information is displayed in a single report. The report also shows common problems with the model type as well as a known fault that the user should be aware of.
How Vehicle History Report Sites Work
CarFax sources its data from law enforcement agencies, insurance companies, dealerships, repair shops, and even car auction websites. If a car can be identified on for example a car auctioning site, it will collect the photos and information available there. Some of these sources of information are not available to the general public. Car Fax can have special agreements with some of its sources of data to collect information about vehicles.
All the information collected is used to create a record that aggregates every single detail available about a car. Sometimes, for some cars, information may not be available for various reasons. Cars that have been imported from certain countries or that may have been serviced in small shops that do not report data may return an incomplete report. This is not something that occurs very often but it can happen.
How Sites Like Car Fax Help Car Buyers
Sites that generate vehicle history reports are made for buyers that are looking only at used cars. There is a certain degree of uncertainty when you buy a used car. You can never know for certain how that car was maintained, if the odometer displays a real value or if the car was involved in a severe accident. According to Car Fax, 60% of all cars that are imported from the US to Europe have a negative history which may include flood damage, salvaged, rebuilt, or even stolen cars.
All the issues listed above can appear on a vehicle history report. When you are visiting a dealer and you manifest an interest in a certain car, all you need is the VIN to check if what the dealer claims about the car are true. The dealer should be able to provide the VIN if he has nothing to hide. A dealer that does not want to share the VIN should raise some concerns.
If you do manage to get a report from CarFax about a car you are interested in buying, it can save you a lot of money. If you discover that the car has been rebuilt, the odometer has been tampered with or if it was flooded and the dealer did not specify such issues, you should either negotiate the price or run away from that dealer because you can never tell what else he lied about the car.