The Importance of Getting a Free Vehicle History Report Before Buying


Know a Vehicle's History Before You Buy

One of the most common reasons people decide to buy new cars instead of used cars is because they don’t know how the used car was taken care of by its previous owner(s). But for many Canadians, buying a new car isn’t affordable, causing them to go against their worries and buy a used car. Luckily, there are plenty of great resources and reasons to buy a used car. If you’re worried about buying a used car because of its unknown history, we understand. Who knows if the vehicle has been in an accident or has been in the mechanic shop for recurring problems or major repairs? Well, there’s a simple and free way to learn about the history of any car and we’ll talk about it in this article. 

What is a VIN Check?

A VIN check gives you information about any car’s past history from its 17 digit VIN number. VIN checks are free and you can get them from three main sources: CARFAX, VIN Verify and Transport Canada. A VIN check gives you the following information: 

  • The year, make and model of the vehicle
  • Where the vehicle was assembled
  • The engine and drivetrain of the car

While VIN checks don’t give you extremely detailed information about the vehicle’s history of accidents or repairs, it does tell you enough information to avoid fraud and deception. 

car mechanic in front of car with report

What is a Vehicle History Report?

A vehicle history report is very similar to a VIN check but provides much more detailed information. There are many resources online to get Vehicle History Reports, but typically there is a fee required. If you’re buying from a dealership, however, vehicle history reports are usually free. Vehicle history reports provide the following information:

  • Title status 
  • Major accidents and insurance claims
  • Manufacturer return campaigns
  • Odometer discrepancies 
  • Service records
  • Ownership changes

Sections of a Vehicle History Report (VHR)

Major accident and insurance claims: The accident section of a vehicle history report provides info about any reported incidents of damage, whether it be from a collision or extreme weather conditions. The details will explain when the damage occurred, the cost of repairs and where on the vehicle the damage was.

Manufacturer return campaigns: If the car manufacturer calls for a recall due to a recurring issue or defect, it will be reported in this section of the report. If a safety recall is still open, it means that the issue has not yet been fixed.

Service records: This section of the report shows any of the times the vehicle was taken into the shop for service and what the issue was for each visit. 

Canadian lien search: If a vehicle has a registered lien, there is an outstanding debt for this vehicle. If you happen to buy a vehicle with a lien, you could be responsible to pay for the outstanding debt. 

Theft records: Buying a car that has been reported stolen can be very problematic so it’s important to know you’re buying a car with a clean record. 

Couple on couch with laptop

Why You Should Get a Vehicle History Report

If you’re buying privately, you’re definitely going to want to spend the extra money and get a vehicle history report. The fee of getting a full breakdown of a car’s history far outweighs the potential costs of buying a car with a history of accidents and mechanical issues. You should know that no report is perfect and there is a possibility that an incident went unreported. If the owner decided to pay for a repair out of pocket rather than using insurance, for example, this wouldn’t show up on a vehicle history report. There are three main vehicle history report services:


CARFAX is the most commonly used service to get VHR and has access to the largest inventory database in North America. They can provide you with all the important information you need to know about potential car buys. If you get a CARFAX report with a lien report it costs $54.95, without the lien report is costs $39.95.

2. AutoCheck

AutoCheck is very similar to CARFAX in which you can get a free VIN check but also have the option to pay $24.99 for a more comprehensive vehicle history report. 

3. VinAudit Canada

While VinAudit is newer to the market in Canada, they also offer similar services to both CARFAX and AutoCheck. They can provide you with both a free VIN check and a vehicle history report for $14.95. 

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