What is a Car History Check?

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Car history check is an inquiry that provides historic information about the vehicle: maintenance, accident, insurance, damage history, real mileage, number of owners. Car history check is done when buying a used car. Sometimes, sellers provide the buyer with a car history report themselves. In any case, a car history check is a fast and inexpensive procedure. It is like a detailed health checkup that reveals existing and warns about potential problems.

Car history check is a service provided by companies like carVertical or Carfax. With a VIN (vehicle identification number) you will get a detailed car history report online. Car history report will provide you with maximum available information about the vehicle. A car history check is done by searching numerous databases for all available information on the vehicle. Information is reliable and received only from reliable and respectable sources: insurance companies, automotive associations, government, police, databases of stolen vehicles.  

Every car has a different past, owners, and service history. And there are all kinds of car dealers who would provide very different information about the same car. That’s why car history check is the best decision when dealing with used cars. There is no other way to get more reliable information about the vehicle.

What Data Car History Check Can Provide?

Car history report reveals a wide array of information. Every car history check service provider has different sources of data. Some work only with local databases and can’t provide information about imported vehicles. Others work with many sources and provide more information than localised competitors. Here is the list of data that you can find in car history reports of best service providers:

  • Service history. History of maintenance, where and when repairs and maintenance was done.  
  • Insurance history. List of insurance companies that insured the car, information on insured events, sums of money reimbursed.
  • Junk and salvage history. If the car was sold or bought on junkyards.
  • Mileage. You’ll get every registered mileage number that exists. Comparing it to odometer numbers will reveal if the odometer was rolled back.
  • Theft history. Stolen car databases are checked to look if the car is or was stolen. 
  • Accident history and damage. Any registered accidents and any damage.
  • A number of owners. The real number of owners and how often this car changed hands.
  • Was it a hard-used vehicle? Reveals if it was a police car or was used as a rental or taxi car.
  • Title records. You’ll get all title-related information and will see any potential problems.
  • Specs and equipment from the manufacturer. Will provide a list of technical information, features and equipment which were installed during manufacturing.

How Data is Aggregated?

Car history reports are compiled from multiple information sources. Best automotive data providers have access to hundreds of different databases all over the world. To list only a few:

  • National and private registers.
  • Governmental officials.
  • Police (accidents and stolen vehicle databases).
  • Insurance companies.
  • Car service records.
  • Technical inspections.
  • Leasing companies’ databases.
  • Car auctions.
  • New and used car dealers.
  • Paid API’s (private company owned databases).

For a private person it’s impossible to get all this data. Especially if you are buying a car that was in a different country. In Europe it’s a huge case that cars can change a number of countries in just a few years. Personal data protection laws are a big issue when gathering such information. Also, every country has its legal differences and juridical obstacles. Not to mention different languages and different systems for measuring length (miles and kilometers). It is really important to calculate odometer readings when a car is shipped from the US to the EU and vice versa.

Car history service providers gather all that data and merge it into one comprehensible car history report. All information in concise language and with one measurement system in one place.

Difference: Car History Check vs VIN Decoder

VIN decoder is an algorithm that “translates” VIN (vehicle identification number) to human language. VIN is a unique fingerprint of the vehicle. It is a 17-digit code made from numbers and letters. VIN is imprinted on the vehicle by the manufacturer and it contains an array of information:

  • Country of origin.
  • Manufacturer.
  • Model, body style, restraint system.
  • Transmission and engine type.
  • Model year.
  • Plant where the vehicle was assembled.
  • A unique number of the vehicle.

Car history check is a process of a thorough search of information about the car and its usage history. Information is found on numerous national and private databases: police, insurance companies, registers, etc.

Car history check is done using a VIN and usually, it provides a large variety of information:

  • Service and insurance history.
  • Mileage.
  • A number of owners.
  • Title records.
  • Theft history.
  • Accident and damage history.

Free VIN decoder gives you basic information about the car, technical specifications, details of the manufacturer. If you want to know the history of the car, you’ll have to use services of one of the automotive data providers. You can try a free sample report or buy a full detailed report and get all available data.

Car History Report FAQ

What is a car history report?

Car history report is an extensive report on the documented and/or registered history of a used car.

Why should I get a car history report?

Car history report provides real information about the car that another vise is unachievable to a private person. It helps to make an educated decision before spending money.

Where can I get a car history report?

There are several automotive data providers. Most popular ones: carVertical, carfax, autodna.

What is a VIN?

VIN is a vehicle identification number imprinted by the manufacturer.

Where can I find the VIN?

VIN is imprinted on the car: dashboard or one of the doorposts. Also, it is on the vehicle registration document.

How to Get a Car History Report?

  1. Find a VIN of the car. On the vehicle itself or in the  registry documents.
  2. Choose a service provider that suits you best. Most popular providers are carVertical, Carfax. Carfax works only with U.S. cars. While carVertical is a global service.
  3. Enter the VIN and the system will generate the report.
  4. Pay and get a detailed car history report.

How to Get a Car History Report for Free?

Car history check service providers don’t get the data for free. They pay to every data provider. That’s why reliable providers (ones that have lots of data sources) don’t give the car history reports for free or very cheap. 

In most cases “free vehicle check” is just a sample of a report from one database (in best case). Real car history reports are aggregated from tens and hundreds of different databases: governmental and private registers, police, insurance and lease companies, and many more.

Another reason for a “free” could be an attempt to lure the customer into the scam. If a car history report from a known provider is presented as “free” on another website, it could be a scam. Some car history report scams are done through websites that generate fake car history reports. 

How Much Does a Car History Report Cost?

Prices vary from 9 EUR to 40 EUR and change depending on the number of reports bought. In the US prices are higher and in Europe car history reports are cheaper. Some companies in Europe change prices depending on how much data about certain cars they have.  More data – higher the price. 

  • carVertical is at 19.99 EUR. The customer gets a full report from global databases. carVertical is a relatively new company and uses most advanced technology and most databases.
  • Carfax costs 39.99 EUR. An old, established company that dominates the U.S. market.
  • Autodna basic report prices vary from 9 EUR to 12.9 EUR depending on the country. It costs additional to get a more detailed report.

Why does Car History Report Not Provide All the Data?

Service providers promise a long list of different information about the vehicle. Once in a while, the history report does not contain a full list. There are few reasons why the car history report could seem incomplete.

  • In most cases, it means that the vehicle has a clean history and is in a good condition. 
  • When the car is imported, local automotive data providers may not have all the data from other countries. 
  • If the car’s accident was not registered with insurance or police, that accident won’t be on the database. Or if the car was maintained in a non-certified repair shop there will be no information on service history. 

Why is the Car History Report Empty?

There are some rare cases when a car history check provides an empty car history report. Customers should evaluate the situation. When it’s a newer car that was checked, it is possible that it was just a very good car. It just has a clean history and none of the red flags. If it’s an older car in the question, it could be that the provider doesn’t have access to a certain region or country.

If there is any doubt regarding the data, customers should always contact the customer support to get the information regarding specific reports.

Why do Different Car History Report Providers Have Different Data?

Sometimes the same car can get different reports from different car history service providers. Especially when comparing big global and small local providers. Mostly it depends on the ability of the provider to make deals with data sources and gather information.

While most car check service providers share some of the data sources. Not every service provider has partnerships and agreements with insurance companies, governmental officials, car dealers, lease companies, private registers, etc. Some local providers work with very limited data sources and get information only from a few countries. Naturally, reports from such providers will contain less information than their competitors.

Also, there is a new feature in the automotive data provider market that is called Connected Report. Connected reports get data straight from the connected vehicle. Not all service providers have access to such data.

In Conclusion

A car history check provides actual and authentic information about car’s history, maintenance, accidents, owners, and reveals other important information. 

If you are buying a used car, a car history check can protect you from many troubles and might actually help negotiating the price. You can get a report from providers like carVertical, carfax, autodna.

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