What methods other than Car Fax are there?

Other than Car Fax and the obvious inspection by a trusted mechanic, what means are available to determine a vehicle’s history?


Take the VIN to a new car dealer of that brand. Have the service manager pull up the maintenance history. This works for all German cars (MB, BMW, Audi, Porsche) and does not matter which dealer serviced the car (not independents). I’m not sure about US or Japanese.

A couple of competitors to carfax:



Thanks, ran the isitalemon and got basically the same info as AutoFax.

If the inspection is done well, I am not sure why you would need more than that.

Inspection is the most important part, I guess seeing the carfax helps too. For me its good to see where the registrations were done etc. I have tried the dealers, but if the owner has not done the service there, I can’t hold it against them. After all I rarely use the dealers myself.
Now what else do you need? How much investment are we talking about. For the most part we buy a house and marry our spouses with much less background info.

Car Fax gives the impression that they’re a comprehensive history of the car extrapolated from some mandatory reporting databases. They’re not. The only data they have is what’s been voluntarily contributed.

Persoanally, I wouldn’t even bother with any of these reporting services. A good inspection by a qualified shop will tell you almost everything you need to know. Verification of a clear title by the state’s DMV may be a good ide if in doubt also.

We had a fella here in Merrimack, NH that was convicted in recent years for selling stolen classic cars. He had a “Classic Cars” dealership, and it turns out quite a few were stolen. Quite a few people lost their investments.

Agreed with MB about CarFax.

If it reports a past issue, then you know there was at least one past issue.
If it doesn’t report any past issue, then you’re still in the dark.
Basically, you don’t know what it’s not telling you.