Consumers have been searching for free car history reports for as long as the companies who offer these reports have been in business. As the old saying goes, nothing is life is free…so why would a detailed history of any used vehicle be available to you at no cost? Do you think these companies would be in business if they gave away all of their information for free? Would Walmart be the largest company in the world if they didn’t charge you for anything they sold?
Here’s the bottom line on car history reports….
Consumers are not really to blame for thinking they might be able to get a full report at no charge. Why? Because most of the vehicle information companies do in fact offer a “free check”. That is how they get you in the door, so to speak. They are hoping that once you step inside, you’ll opt for the “full report” which tells you the real information you are looking for such as mileage readings, owner transfers, emissions testing and other DMV records. Perhaps more importantly, the full report will reveal any hidden problems such as collision damage, odometer rollback, rain or fire damage, any other issues that might raise an immediate red flag.
So there is no such thing as a free car history report?
Well, as we mention above technically they do offer some important information for free. Once you enter your 17-character VIN, a sequence of numbers and letters that are unique to every vehicle, it will reveal several things about the vehicle that you’ll need to know. First, it will tell you the make and the model. Now, you might be saying to yourself “I know the make and model, I can read that right off the back of the car!” True enough, but it’s always good to confirm that you are considering the right model, especially when a manufacturer has many different, similar models.
Free car reports will also tell you the trim level, which is XL, CS, GTE or other designation that tells you which car you are looking for. This could be the base model, the top of the line model or something in between. Now this is very important, as oftentimes sellers will misrepresent what trim a used car is. They might tell you it’s the upper end model just to charge you a few thousand dollars more. So it’s good to get a confirmation of the trim level, otherwise you could be paying too much when it’s just a base model with no extra bells and whistles.
You’ll also find out the year the car was made as well as the country of manufacture. Just like with the trim level, this is another vital piece of information. A seller could tell you it’s a 2014 when in reality it’s a 2013. It’s happened to many buyers before. They think they are buying last year’s model when in fact it’s a few years old. That can be a real problem…you certainly don’t want to get stuck with an older model vehicle, as its lifespan will be that much shorter.
Other information such as the restraint system and some other vehicle facts will be revealed in the free car report portion as well.
What’s the best place to get car history reports?
Now that we’ve cleared up the free car history reports issue, you might be wondering where you can go to get the “free” as well as the “not free” history on a vehicle you are considering purchasing.
We’ve been around for almost 20 years, and in that time we’ve researched many different providers of vehicle history reports. The bottom line is there are two major providers, and from our experience one of the two is clearly superior as far as the comprehensiveness and accuracy of the reports.
As with all of the other providers, you’ll start out with a free VIN check, which will check your Vehicle Identification Number with a database of millions of existing records on your car. This will tell you the year, make, model, trim level and other information. From there you have the option of ordering the full report for $29.99 (a small price to pay to rule out a potentially problematic used vehicle) or $44.99 for unlimited reports for 30 days.
In our opinion, it makes sense to opt for the unlimited report option as chances are the first vehicle you check isn’t going to be the one you end up buying. So for another $15 you can check out multiple vehicles until you find the right one for you.
Ready to get started? Follow this link to visit the leading provider of car history reports. Enter your VIN for the free car history report portion. Then if you like what you see you can decide to get the full report and find out hidden problems, odometer readings, owner transfers and a ton of other vital information about any used car you are considering purchasing.