How To Read A CarFax Report

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CarFax (CF) is a report that every used car buyer MUST get and understand. CF is either supplied free of charge, by the seller, or you, the buyer, must pay for the study. The typical CarFax report is 25 pages in length - don't panic there is a recap page or two that summarizes the rest of the report. The report has 6 departments:

Vehicle History Report. This is the first page of the CarFax and the most significant! This page immediately summarizes the total CF if 1) service records available, 2) number of previous owners, 3) if the car was leased or corporate vehicle, 4) any accidents, 5) detail event records 6) last odometer reading. Is the car a turkey or should you expend more time doing research - CF supplies immediate answers.

A summary of 1) title problems, 2) ownership history, and 3) other data follow. It takes but 10 seconds to scan these sections and look for red flags - things that CarFax has determined you need to investigate. And that's the secret of CF - only the items CF has judged to be trouble need to be researched; this saves lots of time and allows you to quickly discard cars with problems.

The Details section, under the Vehicle History Report, shows all events, like accidents, change in ownership, state inspections, etc. in one clever location. Each owner of the automobile has a segment with all the details CarFax has accumulated.

Vehicle Highlights. Vehicle Highlights has numerous sections. The latest mileage and the number of past owners is recapped in the Ownership History segment. A critical section is the state DMV-Reported Title Problems section. Check if the car's title has been reclassified into: Salvage, Junk, Rebuilt, Fire/Flood, Hail Damage, or Buyback/Lemon titles. If this has happened, bypass this used car.

Warranty Check. This is a very clever segment that shows different kinds of warranty coverage and if there is any warranty left. If a seller touts about a warranty, this segment will either confirm or reject that claim. Some of the types of warranty coverage tracked by CF are: Basic coverage, coverage of the Drive Train, Emissions coverage, Corrosion coverage, and if any of the warranties are transferrable.

Safety & Reliability Ratings. This is a wonderful section where crash tests are made available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Front, side, and rear crash results inform you just how safe this used car is to drive. Injury, Collision, and Theft Indicator section scores this used car against all cars and gives you guideposts as to this car's rating - below average, average, or better than average. Manufacturer recalls and if they were done to the car are covered in the Safety Recall segment. The last section has a wealth of information - the J.D. Power Rating of this car type.

Buyback Guarantee Certificate (Optional). If the used car qualifies, CarFax will buyback the car if they screwed up with damage warnings, odometer readings, titles, or a Lemon History reporting. Not all cars qualify and this should be your test too - You should NOT purchase that used car if CF will not issue a Buyback Guarantee.

Consumer Ratings & Comments. This last section represents feedback from car owners of this identical model, make, and year of automobile. Believe me that car owners who dislike something about this make of automobile will take the time to alert folks like you. Likewise, if you wind up buying the automobile and find problems you can go into CarFax and warn other folks not to buy this kind of automobile.
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