I have gotten a few emails about this so I thought I would talk about what a Vehicle History Report will and won't tell you.
I am sure most people have seen information and advertisements for a Vehicle History Report, such as Carfax and Autocheck, but are they worth it and can you trust what they say? Well … the answer is bit mixed.
In my opinion you should it is always good to try to get all the information about a used car before you buy it. These Vehicle History Reports hardly give you the whole story of a used car most of the time though.
Let's say you are looking at a used car, such as a Honda Accord. This Honda Accord looks fine and good to you and you can't see anything wrong with it. Hell mechanically the car seems to be running fine and the Carfax or Autocheck report come out clean. So should you buy it? My answer to this question, “Hell NO!” You should ALWAYS get a used car checked out by an independent mechanic before you hand over any cash, check, credit card, money order, wire transfer, etc. Even if that report comes out clean.
The reason? What you may not realize is that a vehicle history report takes data mostly from insurance companies and dealerships. That means only cars that have been fixed via an insurance company claim will show up on a Vehicle History Report. Sooo, it can tell you data that is useful but you must realize something. Body shops are not required to report to any state agencies or databases the work they perform. That means it is easy for a body shop to repair a car and sell it to you even if you check a vehicle history report. Dealerships and body shops do it all the time actually.
I have a friend and his dad used to paint cars in NASCAR back in the day. If I took a car that I had to him that needed some bodywork or had been in an accident, he could make my car look like new. It would be hard to tell if the car had been painted and it wouldn't be reported to anywhere and therefore wouldn't show up on a Carfax or Autocheck report.
Besides most vehicle history report systems can never keep up with the amount of cars getting into accidents. (That sounds unfortunate but true!) Bottom line, cars should be checked out by a professional mechanic before you bu no matter what.