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Carfax vs Autocheck vs Nmvtis - Which is the best for vehicle history reports?

We got a call this morning from a former client wanting to know how to make certain the used vehicle they were thinking of buying had no problems in its past. That let to a discussion about the differences between CarFax and AutoCheck and the NMVTIS reports that can be obtained on a vehicle's history and which was best and if getting one made any difference.

It can certainly help you avoid buying a car with problems that can cost you thousands of dollars in the future. So getting a history can certainly help - question is, which one is best for your money?

Getting an accurate motor vehicle title history online can cost a few bucks but it can save a lot of headaches and keep you from getting a lemon used car. But only if you check all 3 online vehicle history websites plus your own state records too.

Carfax costs about $35 and has done a great job of selling itself as the "gold standard" on vehicle title reports, but we don't think it is enough if you want to know the most you can know about a used car before you take a chance on it. Carfax only uses some sources and not all that are out there.

Autocheck, which costs about $30) is another company that does the same thing and they reportedly use some of the same and some different sources of data.

Another little known but highly accurate one is NMVTIS (about $5, but beware of fake NMVTIS web sites) which is actually one that was set up with federal government assistance and guidelines because of the problems with data holes in Carfax and AutoCheck - and it is the cheapest of the bunch.

There are some other title history web sites on the internet but these three are the "big three" of the bunch.

The simple truth, though, is that if you want to know everything there is about a vehicle's past history then the best thing to do is get a report from all three vehicle history sources. But don't stop there.

After that, also go online to look for your own state title department's online records. Many states now put their title records online and if you know the VIN of a vehicle then you can check it's history in your state for free online. Look to see how many times title was transferred and if it came (or went) out of your home state, and if it was owned by a series of car dealers in a row.

Problem cars often get sold and traded in and resold again and again without anyone owning it very long. And if you see a vehicle being sold across state lines that usually means that it went to an auction somewhere, which means it could be a repo or the title is being "washed" of a title brand (such as salvage or flood car status), or worse. And when one car dealer realizes they've got a bad car, they will frequently sell it to another one, who then may do the same thing to some other car dealer. It's like passing a hot potatoe around and you will end up seeing a series of car dealers listed in the ownership chain but hardly any consumer purchaser. Any of these can be a sign of a car you don't want to get near.

The status of a vehicle title is important because many states require a motor vehicle title to be "branded" with a phrase like "salvage" or "lemon law buyback" or "flood" or "odometer" or something similar when the vehicle has been totaled out by an insurance company or when certain things go "on record" with the vehicle. Knowing that before you buy that kind of vehicle can save you thousands of dollars because any kind of brand on a title will hurt its normal market value. You can find out more about title brands and how resold wrecked cars can be a gigantic ripoff by clicking here.

If you got a vehicle with a title branded, and didn’t realize it when you bought it, in most states you would have legal rights against the seller for damages and maybe even to cancel the sale if you act quickly enough. If you end up with this kind of problem then you need to talk to a local attorney who has experience with this kind of case.

Call your local attorney's Bar Association and ask for a referral to a Consumer Law attorney or auto sales fraud attorney near you - or you can click here for a Free Online 50 State National List of Consumer Law Lawyers and find one near you (lawyers don’t pay to get listed here and most of them are members of the only national association for Consumer Law lawyers, NACA.net).

But act quickly because for every legal right you have, there is only a limited amount of time to actually file a lawsuit in court or your rights expire (it's called the statute of limitations), so don't waste your time getting to a Consumer Law attorney or car sales fraud attorney and finding out what your rights are.

Burdge Law Office
Because life's too short to drive a lemon