Is a CARFAX Report Really Necessary When Buying a Used Car
It’s hard to turn on the TV these days without seeing a commercial for car insurance or CARFAX, but is a CARFAX vehicle history report (VHR) really necessary when buying a used car? Though you may have your hands full shopping for a reputable auto insurance company that offers a low rate, a VHR can help prevent you from making an expensive mistake if you’re tempted to buy a used car that you know nothing about.
A Good Place to Start
A CARFAX report is a pretty good place to start when buying a used vehicle because it provides preliminary information, such as whether the car you have your eye on has been in a wreck. It should also tell you whether any recalls have been addressed or remain open.
A CARFAX report can provide the following information before you pay a few thousand dollars for what could turn out to be a potential nightmare.
1. Previous Owners. Knowing how many previous owners a vehicle has had, the odometer readings each time the vehicle changed hands, and the locations where the vehicle was driven – in snowy or a warm climate – can help you determine if you’re getting a good deal.
2. Liens on the Vehicle. If an existing loan remains unpaid, the vehicle could be repossessed with no recourse on your part – especially if the seller vanishes after the sale.
3. Title and Accident History. A title check will tell you whether the person who’s selling the vehicle is the actual owner. It should also alert you to any reported accidents, flood damage, theft recovery or salvage title branding.
4. Faulty Odometer Settings. Odometer readings at various stages of ownership and when scheduled maintenance was performed will enable you to determine if the seller played with the odometer to lower the mileage.
5. California’s Lemon Law. Knowing ahead of time whether the manufacturer or dealership purchased the vehicle under California’s Lemon Law and is reselling it – or if the private party who bought the lemon is now trying to unload it – can save you from unlimited expenses and frustration.
Not the Final Word
The foregoing said, you shouldn’t rely upon a CARFAX report to confirm a seller’s claim that he’s selling a cream puff, not a lemon. The vehicle may have sustained significant body or frame damage that wasn’t reported to the DMV or auto insurance carrier by a previous owner. In such a case, there would be no record of the accident on a CARFAX report or any other vehicle history report, so you may never get the whole story.
Reputable Dealers Provide Reports
For the most part, reputable auto dealerships provide vehicle history reports upon request to close the deal, but private owners and small used car lots that offer their own financing may not always have your best interests in mind.
Information Falls Through the Cracks
Nothing is foolproof, but a CARFAX report remains the most complete protection available to a buyer prior to purchasing a used vehicle. When it comes to protecting your newly purchased used car, be sure to cover it with the best car insurance possible. Why not start by getting a free auto insurance quote online today?