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Purchasing a vehicle history report should be an integral part of the process for anyone looking to sell a used car or light truck. Like providing all maintenance and service records, having a free vehicle history report on hand proves to potential buyers that you have nothing to hide, and are an honest, reputable person. Some types of information that might be available on a vehicle history report or VHR include:
- Whether a vehicle was in an accident
- Suffered flood/fire/hail damage
- Odometer readings
- Service history
- State emissions inspection data
- Vehicle use (personal, lease, rental, etc…)
- Whether the airbag was deployed
- Number of owners
Each vehicle history report is unique to that vehicle thanks to the 17 character vehicle identification number, or VIN. The VIN can be found in a variety of places: On most cars, you can find the VIN on the driver's side dashboard. In addition, it is usually on a sticker or plate on the inside of the driver's side door or on the frame sill where the door closes. You can also expect to find it on the car's title and/or on insurance documents. For some cars or trucks it is stamped on the engine. Please don’t call it the VIN number as VIN number is similar to calling an ATM an ATM machine or a UPC a UPC code. Although VINs have been around since 1954 it wasn’t until 1981 that the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration or NHTSA standardized the VIN for all autos and light trucks.
The industry leader in providing vehicle history reports is Carfax. In the past Carfax offered free vehicle history reports on occasion in certain geographical areas, but they no longer do that because the promotion code for the free vehicle history report would invariably be picked up by numerous daily free deal websites, resulting in a massive loss in revenue for the company.
Carfax receives data from over 34,000 different sources and has over 6 billion records available in their database of vehicle history. The Carfax database is the most comprehensive vehicle history database in North America. Some of Carfax’s data sources are:
- United States and Canadian Department of Motor Vehicles (DMVs)
- State emission inspection stations
- Law enforcement agencies
- Used and new car dealers
- Automotive recyclers
- Insurance companies
- Collision repair facilities
- Vehicle manufacturers
- Service facilities
In addition to their data sources, CARFAX also gives people the option of adding their own information to the vehicle history report in the Consumer Ratings and Comments section. You can rate the vehicle's overall condition and provide a comment about the car or truck. This can be very helpful when selling your vehicle as it will fill in data gaps or clarify issues that might appear on the vehicle history report. For example, CARFAX will have no idea that you change the oil on your car yourself, or perform other basic maintenance. The Consumer Ratings and Comments section is a perfect place to add that information.
Carfax does not have the complete history of every vehicle, but running a vehicle history report will help you establish more credibility with potential buyers. A single CARFAX report now costs $34.99, and if you are also in the market for a used car, 5 reports can be purchased for $44.99. CARFAX used to offer an unlimited version, and it was very popular, but no longer does due to dealers purchasing that product and running hundreds of reports. Order CARFAX Vehicle History Reports
Carfax recently launched something called the Carfax History Impact. Based on the information provided to Carfax, they have determined that a given vehicle might be worth more or less than the book value of that vehicle. Events that impact the price are major accidents, number of owners, and service history, among others. The Carfax History Impact is a monetary adjustment of the book value of the vehicle. The precursor to the Carfax History Impact was the 1-owner price adjustment. The theory with the 1-owner price adjustment was that 1-owner vehicles are worth more than multi-owner vehicles of the same make, model, and year because they are driven more consistently and better maintained.
If you are seeking the most complete vehicle history report, the Carfax vehicle history report is the report for you. Order CARFAX Vehicle History Reports
Next Step: Have your vehicle inspected by a professional
Interested in decoding a VIN? To decode your own VIN, it must be broken up into 6 segments. The first segment contains the first three characters and is known as the World Manufacturer Identifier or WMI. The first character indicates the country where the vehicle was built. For example, if the first digit is a 1,4, or 5 the vehicle was built in the United States. A “J” is used for vehicles built in Japan, and “V”s or “W”s are used for vehicles built in Germany. The second and third characters indicate the manufacturer, and in some cases the body style. For example, if the second character is an “H” the vehicle is a Honda. A second character of “F” or “L” would be a Ford, and a second character of “T” would be a Toyota. A second character of “G” and a third character of “C” indicates that the vehicle was manufactured by General Motors, and in particular is a Chevrolet. In some instances the third character is not used to indicate the manufacturer, but rather the body style. Using a Honda as an example, a third character of “G” indicates the vehicle is a sedan or coupe while a third character of “M” indicates the vehicle is a hatchback. So a vehicle with a vehicle identification number starting with JHM indicates that the vehicle was built in Japan, is a Honda, and is a Sedan. The second segment of the VIN contains characters 4 through 8 and describes the vehicle’s body style and features, including the engine type, braking system and series. These characters vary by manufacturer. The third segment of the VIN contains character 9 and is referred to as a check digit. The check digit helps with the verification of vehicle identification number accuracy. Character 10 indicates the vehicle’s model year. A vehicle with a model year of 2008 will use an “8” for character 10, while 2007 model year vehicles will use a “7”. The 11th character indicates where the vehicle was assembled. These characters vary by manufacturer. The final six characters of the VIN are used to describe the serial or production number. These characters also vary by manufacturer. In short, although the vehicle identification number became standardized in 1981 in a 17-character form and made unique for each vehicle it is quite difficult to decode a VIN because of the different description methods used by the automobile manufacturers. Helpful tip: The letters I, O, and Q never appear in a VIN.