Blog How To Get A Free Vehicle History Report

Jan 9, 2024

Unraveling essential information in vehicle history reports

old car for sale

You’re in the market for a vehicle, and you’ve found the one. It’s the right colour and style in your price range, and you are ready to write the paperwork. Not so fast.

When you are buying a used car has a few more considerations than purchasing a new one. You could have a lemon on your hands if you are not careful. Before you sign on the dotted line, you must check the vehicle history report.

Here, we’ll explain the importance of these reports, how to get them, who offers them, and the type of information they provide.

Click below to jump to key points:

What is a vehicle history report?
Why is a vehicle history report important?
What is included in a vehicle history report?
How do I get a vehicle history report?
How much is a vehicle history report?
Can I get a free vehicle history report?
How can I get a free vehicle history report?
How to read a vehicle history report
Vehicle history report FAQs

What is a vehicle history report?

A vehicle history report is a document you can obtain when purchasing a used car or transferring car ownership . It provides you with important information about a vehicle’s history. This includes information about ownership, accidents, repairs, and maintenance. You will need the vehicle's VIN to get a VIN check report. It is also often referred to as a used car vehicle history report.

Why is a vehicle history report important?

Understanding a vehicle's history is paramount for several reasons:

  • Avoiding surprises: Uncover hidden issues that may not be evident during a test drive or browsing cars online or through dealerships.
  • Negotiating power: With this additional knowledge, you can negotiate a fair price based on the vehicle's history.
  • Security and peace of mind: Ensure your investment is secure, and drive away confidently in your purchase.

What is included in a vehicle history report?

A vehicle history report shows an overview of a vehicle’s history. It can tell you if a vehicle has been in an accident or had recalls and provides other information about damages. It is an invaluable resource that can help you decide whether or not the ride is worth purchasing or when you are finding car insurance quotes.

Buying a vehicle history report means you will get a thorough overview of the vehicle's history. The report will include the following information:

  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN): Every vehicle is assigned a distinct code that helps track its history. You’ll often need this information to check the report in the first place to run a vehicle history report.
  • Title information: Details regarding the vehicle's title, including any branded, salvaged, or rebuilt titles that may indicate significant damage or other issues.
  • Accident history: Reports of accidents, including damage extent and total loss status.
  • Odometer readings: Information about the recorded mileage over time, helping to identify potential odometer fraud.
  • Ownership history: A list of previous owners and their ownership duration, providing insights into the vehicle's usage chronologically.
  • Recalls and repairs: Information about manufacturer recalls and repairs performed on the vehicle.
  • Lien and loan information: Provide information about any liens or loans associated with the vehicle that could affect its ownership status.
  • Vehicle use history: Data on how the vehicle was used, such as whether it was used as a rental car, fleet vehicle, or personal vehicle.
  • Service and maintenance records: Information about routine maintenance, repairs, and service appointments, indicating how well the vehicle has been cared for.
  • Theft history: Reports if the vehicle has been reported as stolen, providing important security-related information.

How do I get a vehicle history report?

There are many ways you can go about getting a vehicle history report:

  • Ask the dealership: If you are buying from a car dealer, simply ask them for a copy.
  • Ask the seller: If a person is selling a car privately, ask them for a copy of the report.
  • Get the report yourself: You can request a VIN report from a number of websites online such as CARFAX.

If a car dealer or private seller is reluctant to provide you with the report or the VIN to check it yourself, this is a red flag. There may be something wrong with the car they don’t want you to know about.

Vehicle history reports may not be mandatory, but insurance is!

While you're browsing for a new vehicle, make sure your vehicle history has the correct information. This can help you compare rates with us to find the right coverage at a competitive rate. Get started in a few clicks.

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How much is a vehicle history report?

CARFAX is the premier company to buy a vehicle history report. You can purchase a CARFAX Canada verified report for $54.95 plus tax. You can also purchase a CARFAX Canada claims report for $39.95 plus tax. But, this report does not include a lien search.

It is often worth paying for the report, compared to potential repair bills and additional car maintenance for a damaged car.

Can I get a free vehicle history report?

Yes, its possible to get a completely free vehicle history report. Often, the seller of a vehicle will provide them along with the used vehicle information package.

As an alternative, there are a number of websites that offer free versions of history reports. However, these free reports are limited in the information they provide. You’ll get a snapshot of the car’s history, but not the entire story.

How can I get a free vehicle history report?

Here are the websites where you can get a free vehicle history report online in Canada:

You may also want to check out the Canadian Government recall database. You can enter any make, model, and year of a specific vehicle. The report will show you any recalls that should be done.

How to read a vehicle history report

sample illustration of vehicle history report

It is important to carefully review all sections of your vehicle history report as they may contain crucial information and warning signs. Here are some key areas to check when you get your report.

  • Report findings in chronological order: This section outlines the vehicle's history chronologically, providing a timeline of events such as ownership changes and reported incidents.
  • Accidents and damage: Examine this section for information about any accidents the vehicle was involved in, the extent of the damage and car insurance claims.
  • Lien records: Check for any existing liens on the vehicle, as this could indicate financial encumbrances or legal issues affecting ownership. This may be an additional charge to view.
  • Canadian Registration: If the vehicle is registered in Canada, ensure that the registration information matches the details provided by the seller.
  • Stolen or theft status: It's essential to check whether the vehicle has been reported as stolen because it can affect its legal status. It is crucial to check if the car is on the list of stolen vehicles in Canada.
  • U.S. vehicle history: This section will provide relevant details if the vehicle has a history in the United States. Pay attention to any incidents or issues that occurred during its time in the U.S.
  • Recalls: If there have been any recalls in the past that apply to the vehicle, they will be mentioned here. If you come across a recall notice for the car, it would be beneficial to inquire with the owner if the necessary servicing has been done. Utilize either the "Report Findings in Chronological Order" section or the "Service History" section to confirm any repairs or maintenance related to the recall.
  • Service history: This section shows the car's service history, including the frequency of services, repairs, and replacements like brakes and transmission.

Vehicle history report FAQs

Yes. It is common for buyers to ask private sellers for the vehicle history report. You can also get a free report online using the VIN. Tread carefully if a seller is hesitant to provide you with a report.

No. You cannot use a licence plate to check the vehicle history because licence plates can be moved from vehicle to vehicle. You will need the VIN to get the report.

CARFAX is the leader when it comes to vehicle history reports. It provides the most thorough reports and has a strong reputation within the auto industry.

Yes. Vehicle history reports are legitimate documents that play an important role in the sale of a vehicle. It benefits sellers and buyers. As a seller, it shows your car is legitimate and can help you sell it quickly. As a buyer, it can let you know if there are any issues before you decide to purchase it.

Always check the vehicle history report

Whether you are looking to buy or sell a used car, getting a vehicle history report is recommended. The report ensures both parties know the vehicle's condition and history before agreeing to the sale. Don’t forget to contact us for your car insurance to make sure you are saving on your rates.