The vehicle history report is a tool in your toolbox when buying a car. It should not be relied upon as a comprehensive report on the quality of the vehicle you are purchasing. At DonohooAuto we provide both Carfax and Autocheck vehicle history reports for free for our customers. Each is better than the other in certain ways (See a nice link here). Autocheck will show reported calls at auctions that Carfax will not. Carfax can be valuable if the customer took the vehicle to a shop that reports service history to Carfax. Autocheck will not show that. Every used car has some history that cannot be easily discovered. Did someone go 10,000 miles without changing the oil between mile 10,000 and 20,000? Now the car is 45,000 miles. What evidence is there of this? There could be evidence of service history all the way to 45,000 miles that rule out this potential issue. If neither vehicle history tells you this, then a dealer that inspects the vehicle upon purchasing it may not see signs of the future impact of this because its impact is difficult to notice. No dealer can take apart the engine and verify no historical impact of poor maintenance. Your used car would cost thousands more if every dealer did this. Still, good dealers don’t sell blatantly mechanically unsound cars undisclosed to customers. Talk to people you know and learn about the dealer from which you are buying.

Am I saying that buying a used vehicle is a crapshoot? In a way, yes. But there are ways you mitigate your risks. The vehicle history reports are valuable points of information. If you are looking at a vehicle at a dealership like DonohooAuto, look carefully at the information online in its website listing. We have vehicles with no accidents on Carfax or Autocheck but include a statement about paintwork we found during our incoming inspection. Have a trusted third-party mechanic look at the vehicle for you. You may pay $100 for a thorough review, but you have mitigated your risk by getting another data point. In the end, there is no guarantee when purchasing a used vehicle. You are taking a risk – but you are generally saving a lot of money and getting more car. No risk, no reward.

Can I tell you DonohooAuto has never missed a mechanical or paint and body problem on a car and sold it to a retail customer? If I told you yes, I doubt you would believe me. I am pretty confident we are not perfect. But we do our best.


Here’s a good video explanation about the importance of Autocheck and Carfax reports as well as the extra security a consumer can benefit from when have a third party inspection performed on a car.