When buying a car, you want to know the history of the vehicle—especially with a used vehicle or one you’re buying from an individual seller. I’m sure you’ve heard of Carfax, where you can get a vehicle history report about a vehicle you’re considering purchasing, before making the deal. It’s $39.99 to obtain a Carfax report—when you’re buying a car, you’re already dishing out some hard-earned cash, so we’ve found some less expensive options for you.
Here are five other less-costly alternatives for you to consider over Carfax. (One’s even free!)
VINCheck is a free service available online and completed through the National Insurance Crime Bureau to protect buyers from buying a stolen (non-recovered) or salvaged vehicle. Obviously, you will need the VIN (vehicle identification number) of the automobile you want to check, and you can do up to five searches per twenty-four-hour window from the same IP address.
This service is found on the NICB website, under “Theft and Fraud” in the middle of the top menu. Scroll down to “VIN Check,” and click on it. You’ll find yourself on the page where you’ll input the VIN of the auto you’re interested in, and you’ll have the information you need shortly—that’s it!
The VIN-checking service provided by CheckThatVIN.com costs a small fee of $3.50 for each VIN checked. It’s available online and they also have an app for the iPhone through the Apple App Store. They use an advanced search tool that accesses the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). This check includes the title history, odometer readings, and determines whether the vehicle’s listed as junk, salvaged, or a flood automobile. CheckThatVIN seems pretty comprehensive for the price.
This service is available online or as a mobile app for both Apple and Android mobile devices. The instaVin service offers either a salvage and VIN check report for $2.99, or a full report—which includes a full history and title report for $6.99 per vehicle checked. It also uses the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System and claims to give you even more data and better vehicle reports. For less than $7, I’d give instaVIN a shot—check out their website.
The vehicle research provided from titlecheck.us is $4.95 per report. They also use the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. By using the NMVTIS, it protects you as a buyer from purchasing a car that perhaps was recorded as a total loss or salvaged vehicle elsewhere, that someone is trying to re-sell for a profit to you now. You can go to the titlecheck.us website and do a VIN search on your potential auto purchase. They only have an online tool available, no mobile app.
This VIN-checking site is another Carfax alternative that’s available, either online or from the Apple App Store or Google Play. Also a partner with the NMVTIS, vinsmart says they include a “plus factor” with every vehicle history report they provide. The plus factors they list are included with the report price of $5.95: provided recall alerts, making sure the title is clean with an in-depth scan, providing a value vehicle report, offering volume discounts, and giving you credits that never expire. So, if you need to buy another car down the line, they encourage you to purchase reports in volume to get a discount—and your credits won’t expire, so you’re protected by purchasing ahead of time. Visit the vinsmart website and check things out.
With this list, you should be able to find a comparable Carfax alternative to save you some bucks. Happy car buying!