15 Secrets to Buying a Used Car

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2. CarFax Doesn’t Tell You Everything

Since a car’s history is such a vital part of its value, most used car buyers rely on car history reports like CarFax, VinAudit or AutoCheck as a way to research the vehicle. While these tools certainly have their place, you shouldn’t treat them as gospel as they only tell part of the story.

A car history report looks at a vehicle’s records with the DMV to see whether it’s been involved in any accidents. However, not all car accidents are reported: The vehicle may not have been insured, or the owner may have chosen to repair the damage out-of-pocket and skip reporting the collision. Additionally, a history report will only tell you that damage occurred, not how it was repaired. The car could have been patched up with Bondo or taken to a top-class repair facility; there’s no way of knowing from the report alone.

That said, you should always ask for the report. If a dealership or private seller is not willing to provide that information, that should be a serious red flag that there’s something in the car’s history that they don’t want you to see. Walk away from a seller who tries to keep secrets.

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