Check used vehicle accident reports

It also is an indicator that a prior owner took good care of the vehicle. Our opinion: Carfax is pricey but worth it, given that it has the most detailed and user-friendly reports. For many, a clean Carfax report is the first step in getting a good used car. AutoCheck, owned by Experian, is notable for providing a vehicle "score" — a number and a range — such as 85 out of a range of This score shows how the vehicle compares to other similar cars built that year.


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It is meant to be a quick way to identify and eliminate vehicles that might have issues, ranging from high mileage to reported accidents. The scale isn't zero to , which can be confusing. Sounds like a good car, doesn't it? But this Civic was in a major accident, declared a total loss and issued a salvage title, according to the report. The number that matters is the range and, from there, where the particular car scores.

In this case, the range for similar Civics was The one we were checking, with a score of 82, was 6 points below the bottom of the range — not a great bet for a used car, in other words. It scored 25 out of a range of Six points seemed to be the deduction for having a salvage title, but the numbers weren't clearly explained. In the past, AutoCheck charged that for unlimited reports.

Our opinion: Although it doesn't quite have the name recognition of Carfax, AutoCheck is worth a look. It's a less expensive alternative for shoppers who plan on running numerous reports. The vehicle score is nice as a quick reference, but don't put too much stock in it. Run by the federal Department of Justice, the system is the only one that's publicly available in the U.

What’s on the report?

It is a less expensive alternative, but based on our experience, you get what you pay for. You won't find any fancy scores or detailed entries of any type in these history reports. These sites should only be used to determine when and where the vehicle was registered and to find out if a branded title was issued. Our opinion: We would only recommend using this resource to determine if the car you're interested in has a branded title. And even then, it is best used as a secondary check. Save your money for a report from AutoCheck or Carfax.

Vehicle History Reports: The Key to a Car’s Past - NerdWallet

We tested more than a dozen vehicles to see if we could spot any differences and comment on which was the easiest to use. Here's what we found: In our checks, AutoCheck's data was less comprehensive and detailed than Carfax's. For example: We ran a report on a Kia Optima with a salvage title. AutoCheck showed that it had two owners. Carfax listed three owners and caught an accident that hadn't appeared on the AutoCheck report.

In comparing the two reports side by side, the AutoCheck report did record the DMV event that began the third owner's tenure, but the report hadn't yet factored that into its at-a-glance owner count. We found it difficult to determine when and for how long each person owned the vehicle on the AutoCheck report. We also ran a report on a Infiniti QX56 that spent most of its life in Florida. Carfax had 10 service reports, including one to replace the drive belts. That's an expensive repair and good to know about.

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AutoCheck did not have that information. And thanks to the fact that Carfax shows maintenance records, its report indicated approximately when the car arrived in California.

AutoCheck's last recorded incident was from Florida in If you were only going by the AutoCheck report, you wouldn't know where the car had been over the past three years. These reports do little to flesh out the actual backstory of a car. A vehicle history report isn't going to guarantee you're getting a good used car. A mechanical inspection is still a good idea. And if you suspect structural damage, a body shop visit could save you from making an expensive mistake. But running a report is a valuable first step that will save you time and money.

It could also protect you from buying a car with a checkered past. Yes, but it depends on the information you're looking for. If you're simply looking to find out where your vehicle was made and other pieces of trivia, look for a free "VIN decoder" online. However, if you need a full vehicle history report, you'll have to either find a used car on a dealership website or pay for the report yourself. As a senior consumer advice editor, Ron helps shoppers navigate car buying.

He has plenty of firsthand knowledge since he buys and sells the cars in the Edmunds long-term test fleet. Popular searches. My Account. By using The Balance, you accept our. By Emily Delbridge. The Date and Location of the Crash. Details Are Important. The date should include the day, month and year, of course, but also the specific time.

It doesn't hurt to make note of the day of the week, also. In terms of the location, be very specific. The report should also describe the weather conditions at the time of the accident. Drivers and Vehicles.

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Be sure that your report has all of the pertinent information for each driver, including name, address, phone number, driver's license number and date of birth. Pretty much all of the information that can be found on a driver's license, which you should ask to take a look at, by the way. You might want to note if another driver's license indicates a corrective eyewear requirement, especially if it appears that the other driver was not wearing glasses at the time of the accident.

It is also important that the report includes full information for each vehicle involved, such as the year, make and model, as well as the license plate number. Passengers and Other Witnesses. Here is where you need to check the information in a police report written by a responding officer to make sure it is complete.

5 Surprising Facts a Carfax Report Can Tell You

In many cases, officers will not take down basic information on passengers unless they are injured or killed. But passengers are often the best witnesses to an accident. So, if you are filling out a report at the station or the DMV, be sure to include all the information you have on passengers. In addition, be sure the police report has taken the statements of any third-party witnesses. Third-party witnesses are often seen as particularly credible since they have no apparent connection to the parties and therefore no bias.

Gently insist that the responding officer takes down witness information and statements. If he or she does not, get the information yourself.

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