What is CARFAX?
CARFAX is a commercial online service that supplies vehicle history reports to businesses and individuals. CARFAX reports, which in essence are simply vehicle history reports, are offered on a vast number of used cars and light trucks for the Canadian and American marketplaces.
CARFAX does not offer free full-fledged vehicle history reports. The service instead offers four free vehicle research services: Lemon Check, Recall Check, Problem Car and Record Check services are all provided by CARFAX. Although these services will prove helpful to prospective buyers and sellers of used cars, the reports offered by CARFAX will not contain all of the information provided in a full history report. To access an extensive vehicle history report through CARFAZ a prospective buyer or seller of used cars must pay a fee.
CARFAX generates vehicle history reports through unique 17-character vehicle identification number.
A Sample CARFAX Report:
A sample CARFAX report is broken-down into six different sections: Vehicle History Report, Vehicle Highlights, SmartBuyer Checklist, Warranty Check, Safety & Reliability Report and Buyback Guarantee are the reflected sections in the CARFAX report.
The Vehicle History Report will first list the basic information of the car including the make, model and year of the vehicle as well as its VIN and basic specifications. This portion of the CARFAX report will also elucidate the year the vehicle was purchased, the type of owner, the estimated length of ownership, the locations where it was owned, the estimated number of miles driven per year and the last reported odometer reading. Following this information the CARFAX report will provide statistics concerning the vehicle’s total loss, structural damage, airbag deployments, manufacturer recalls and information dealing with the vehicle’s warranty.
This information is then summarized to reflect the total impact on the resale price of the vehicle. CARFAX provides a space for the user to enter the retail book value of the automobile; when this figure is entered the report will generate a figure above or below this number based on the history report.
The Vehicle highlights section of the CARFAX report provides the most fundamental statistics of the automobile. This information is provided in an easy-to-view and easy-to-manage profile.
The SmartBuyer Checklist portion of the CARFAX vehicle history report provides the prospective buyer or seller with fundamental questions. These inquiries must be posed before finalizing the transaction. Examples of questions include:
• Is the car still under manufacturer warranty or is a warranty available at the time of purchase?
• Turn on the ignition without starting the vehicle—do all the warning lights and gauges work?
• Is the odometer consistent with the latest reading of 39,500 on the CARFAX summary report?
• Are the tires in good shape or do they appear worn?
• Test all internal controls—do the turn signals, lights, windows and the heater/air conditioner work properly?
• Does the safety equipment, including the brakes, work properly?
• Does the vehicle appear to have been handled with care?
The warranty section of the CARFAX report provides information concerning the active lives of the vehicle’s warranties. Typically, a vehicle will have had one or multiple of the following warranties: basic, drivetrain, emissions, corrosion, roadside assistance, specific components and safety belt & inflatable restraint systems. CARFAX vehicle history reports will illuminate on whether these warranties are active and if so, the remainder of coverage provided.
The safety & reliability report listed on CARFAX provides the prospective buyer or seller with a series of safety ratings including: frontal crash, side crash and rollover resistance ratings.
Lastly, the Buyback guarantee provides a warranty—CARFAX will purchase the underlying vehicle—if any of the information provided in the report proves to be grossly incorrect.