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How to Read a CARFAX Vehicle History Report

Every Carfax Vehicle History Report offers a detailed snapshot of a car’s condition and value. More than 20 different factors are taken into account and cover a vehicle’s service, accident, and ownership histories. Carfax then puts all those details into one simple, easy-to-understand format.

History-Based Value

The first thing you’ll encounter in a typical Carfax Vehicle History Report is the car’s History-Based Value. It evaluates a car’s value based on many of the factors listed later in this report. Other websites try to give you a value determined only by mileage and a rough-guesstimate of a vehicle’s condition, but Carfax goes deeper. Our History-Based Value considers service records, title concerns, open recalls, past accidents, and the number of previous owners.

Carfax provides a History-Based Values that detail your car’s trade-in value, or retail value if you’re looking to buy. Typically, trade-in values are lower than retail values.

Vehicle Overview

The next section of the Carfax Vehicle History Report lays out the basics. Highlights include a brief top-level description of the vehicle with information including its model year, make, model name, trim level, vehicle identification number (VIN), body style, and powertrain. (Learn more about VIN Decoding.)

Here you’ll learn how many owners a vehicle has had, whether it was used for personal, commercial or rental purposes, how many miles it’s been driven, and whether or not it’s ever had damage reported. This is the section where potential red flags are raised, with details provided deeper in the report.

The report can include dealership information, if the car you’re examining is being offered for sale. That information can include verified reviews and ratings from customers.

Ownership History

The Ownership History area is where the data becomes more detailed. Here is the individual information showing when each specific owner bought the car, how long it was owned by each, where it was registered and the estimated number of miles driven each year. The type of use – whether it was for personal or commercial purposes – is also indicated.

Sample Carfax Vehicle History Report

Title History

This section also provides info on an owner-by-owner basis. It’ll let you know if a vehicle has had fire, flood, or other damage that can result in a title defect. Keep in mind that cars with salvage titles often can’t be retitled as roadworthy vehicles. Carfax also lets you know if the reported odometer reading is accurate in this section.

Sample Carfax Vehicle History Report

Additional History

This area of the report centers on accidents and damage, from airbag deployment to structural damage to a total loss. You’ll be able to discover if the vehicle remains under warranty, or if there’s an open manufacturer recall that needs repairing.

Sample Carfax Vehicle History Report

Detailed History

The final section of the Carfax Vehicle History Report is the overall timeline, with a chronological list of key events. That list may start with the first pre-delivery inspection at a new-car dealership. Subsequent sales, purchases, accidents, and service visits can all follow. The Detailed History even tracks vehicle loans (often called liens) and emissions and safety test results.

Consider a vehicle with reported accident damage. The Detailed History may include a Damage Severity Scale, which can have two parts: The first is a graphic that locates where the vehicle was damaged, and the other is a scale that indicates how severe the damage was.

Learn more about How to Read Accident Information on a Carfax Vehicle History Report.

Sample Carfax Vehicle History Report

If you have questions about this story, please contact us at Editors@carfax.com