This February, we’re gathering our best tips and tricks for buying used cars and sharing our most sought-after strategies for ensuring you get the most bang for your buck. This article was originally published in 2017.
If you’re shopping for a used car, you want to know what you’re getting yourself into. A number of companies sell vehicle history reports, designed to shed some light on the past of any given vehicle. They’re a super helpful tool for any buyer on the used car market but they can be expensive if you don’t know where to look.
Here’s what you need to know about getting a vehicle history report– and how you can get one for free.
Why Reports Can Be Expensive
The reports from the biggest players — AutoCheck and Carfax — are expensive, ranging from $40 for one to multiple reports for $100. And if you’re shopping for a used car on the private-party market or online, you’ll likely be paying for the reports out of pocket.
These reports scour all available public records, such as police reports, insurance records, and other incident documentation– which is the main reason they cost so much. But it’s important to remember that no report is perfect. While they can be a valuable source of third-party information, they’re only as accurate as the details that have been documented. If you find a car you like, you should still have a trusted mechanic get under the hood to do a full inspection before you put any money down, even if the CarFax report looks clean.
You Can Get Them for Free
If you’re shopping in person at a used-car lot, and want to know the history of a particular vehicle, just ask for a report. Most major used-car dealers and select car-selling sites have vehicle history report subscriptions, usually for either AutoCheck or Carfax and many will provide a free report for interested buyers.
As a courtesy, you should only ask for a report if you’re truly interested in the vehicle. If the dealer refuses to run a vehicle history report or provides an outdated report, that’s a big red flag.
A vehicle history report isn’t going to guarantee you’re getting a good used car, but it’s an important first step in saving you time and money in your search. You should always have your mechanic inspect a used vehicle before you make a purchase, especially you suspect any structural damage, as a deeper look can save you from making an expensive mistake.
V&F Auto Sales has been serving the Western Mass community since 1988, providing our customers with top-quality, affordable vehicles. We also offer several convenient financing options so you can get the car you love– without breaking the bank. View a complete list of our inventory on our website, or visit us at 7 Harding St, Agawam, MA 01001.