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How to get a used car's history before you buy

StreetWise Auto Buying Resources

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Getting a used car's history before you buy

Through registrations, insurance records, theft histories, lemon laws, flood damage claims, and odometer rollbacks, cars with problems leave an official paper trail. More often than you'd think, these problem vehicles end up back on the market. To protect yourself, we recommend you invest a little money to determine if the used car you're about to buy has potential problems. Carfax® may be able to answer these questions:

  1. How many owners have there been?

  2. Has it passed its state inspections every year?

  3. Was the car owned by a rental company?

  4. Was the vehicle totaled?

  5. Does the vehicle have a “washed” title?

  6. Has the vehicle been in a flood?

  7. Is the odometer reading accurate?

  8. Has the odometer been rolled back? Was the vehicle returned as a lemon?

It is important to remember that things can happen to a car that don't end up in the records. For example, if a prior owner had accident repairs made without telling his insurance company, chances are it won't show up on a Carfax report. The inspection by your mechanic is still vitally important to spot those problems.

Many dealers are now providing the Carfax report upon request. If they won't or you want to be sure it is for real, you can purchase Carfax reports online if you have the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) which is found on a metal plate on the dashboard visible through the windshield. It will also be on the cars official papers.

Carfax Vehicle History Reports

Go to CARFAX Vehicle History Reports

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