UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident car insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one car insurance provider and cannot guarantee quotes from any single provider.

Our car insurance industry partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from many different car insurance companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Written By: Laura BerryReviewed By: Melanie MussonUPDATED: Mar 13, 2020Fact Checked

“Show me the Carfax!” We have all seen these commercials featuring savvy customers discovering the truth about their proposed car purchases. A Carfax report gives you a great deal of information about the car you are going to purchase, and can help you make an informed decision if you are struggling with which car is best for you.

Who is Carfax?

Carfax is a web-based system that compiles information on most used cars and makes the information available to dealers and buyers. Many used-car dealers now offer Carfax reports free of charge to customers who are considering purchasing a used vehicle. This service is offered with a two-fold purpose: to attract customers with promises of “fair” dealing and to cut down on complaints about purchased vehicles.

Carfax offers several types of information on its regular report. First, there is the ownership history. The ownership history tells you how many times the car has been sold and whether it was ever registered as a rental vehicle or a fleet car.

Next, the Carfax report shows the title history. From the title history, you can check the accuracy of the odometer by comparing it to readings at various points in its history. If the current odometer reading is lower than a previous reading, it indicates that someone has reset it to make the car appear to have lower mileage. The title history also shows if the car has ever been in a major accident by showing the presence of a salvage title.

The Carfax report also includes a detailed service history

You can find out whether the car was regularly maintained with checkups and oil changes and if there have been major repairs performed during the car’s history. The service report also gives you an idea of at what point in the car’s history repairs were performed; this can help you decide if the car had problems early or if it is on a normal schedule in terms of needed maintenance.

You will also find out if the car was ever declared a total loss by an insurance company. This is a very important consideration, as not all cars are issued a salvage title if they are seriously wrecked. However, if an insurance company has ever paid out a total destruction claim, you will know instantly that the car has suffered serious damage.

The Carfax Report Gaurantee

Best of all Carfax offers a guarantee with each report you buy. If you purchase a car which has fire damage, flood damage, or a salvage title which is not listed on the report, or if the odometer has been rolled back and it is not reflected by the readings, Carfax will buy the car from you for the price you paid.

How easy to read are Carfax reports?

The Carfax report is easy to read and understand. At the top, you will see the listing of the car’s make, model, vehicle identification number or VIN, and specifications. The car’s overall safety and reliability ratings are also listed and provide a valuable source of information about your new car’s qualities in these areas. The “Intellichoice” cost of ownership report is also very valuable as it shows you how much you can expect to pay in fuel and other costs during your ownership of the car.

Carfax also offers specialty reports such as an airbag deployment check. If the airbags have ever been deployed, you can find out the circumstances of the accident and even tell what type of accident it was by the type of airbag deployment which occurred. Carfax also compiles statistical data, such as how many of these types of cars were involved in accidents in a given year, so you can determine if the accident was an anomaly or a rather common event with this model.

Where do I buy a Carfax report?

You can get a Carfax report on most cars free at the dealership where you are shopping. If you want a Carfax on a used car you are considering in a private sale, you can obtain one from Carfax’s website, www.carfax.com. Simply go on to the website and enter either the license plate number or the VIN. If you do not have this information, you can enter other information to determine the identity of the vehicle. Carfax reports are reasonably priced: you can get a single report for $34.99 or five reports for $44.99. Additional reports are also available at reduced rates.

By obtaining a Carfax report, you will find all the information you need to know before you make your used car purchase, saving you time, money, and frustration in the future.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about car insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything car insurance-related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by car insurance experts.

A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

Full Bio →

Written by Laura Berry
Former Insurance Agent Laura Berry

Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. Through her years working in th...

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert Melanie Musson