Car history reports allow you to get all the information you need on a vehicle’s service history, accident, possible recalls, and more. The exact information that you get varies from website to website. However, the most popular services such as Carfax provide detailed information regarding the full history of the vehicle, including where it was registered and if it has been any accidents amongst a wide variety of other information.

Some vehicle report websites are free. Others charge a fee but may be free for your first few reports. Some sellers, especially large dealers, will offer a full vehicle history report for free on the vehicle listing. Some private sellers may also be willing to do this, especially if it is an expensive car.

A car is a significant purchase, and you should do as much research as you can before you make the jump. Here are some ways you can obtain a free car history report.

Checking Vehicle Listings

It is very common for a vehicle listing to have a link to a vehicle history report. The biggest sites for automotive listings, AutoTrader and eBay, have a feature that allows sellers to show vehicle history reports right in the listing. While many sellers do this, especially large franchise dealers, some sellers do not. This is especially true of smaller dealers and of private sellers.

Sometimes, a vehicle listing will allow you to view a shortened version. This will often confirm the mileage and the status of the title. However, you may have to go to an external vehicle history report site if you want to get that full vehicle history report before you purchase the car. If you find an online listing for a car you like that does not offer a full report, you may be able to get one by simply messaging a seller and asking if they can provide such a report. If you make it clear that you are a very motivated buyer, there is a good chance that the seller will comply with this request.

Asking a Dealer In-Person

If you go see the dealer in person, there’s a very good chance they’ll be able to provide you with a free vehicle history report on any used vehicle they carry (as they only have to print out one copy that they can show to everyone). In fact, a used car dealer that does not provide a full vehicle history report should send up a red flag. If they do not come out and provide a history report and refuse to give you one after you ask, you should strongly think about taking your business elsewhere. The car may be fine, but there’s also a good chance that there is something the seller is trying to hide. Everyone knows the shady reputation that a lot of used car dealers have, and unfortunately this reputation contains a kernel of truth.

Asking a Private Seller

Private sellers will be much less likely to provide you with a free vehicle history report. However, if the private seller is trying to sell a rare or expensive vehicle, they may be more likely to provide you with a report. This is especially true of older cars. Many people are worried that older cars are more likely to have reliability problems, so it is important for a seller to show that a car has a clean bill of health. Of course, you should also get as many service records as possible in addition to the vehicle history report when you are buying a rare or expensive car.

Sites That Have Free Vehicle History Reports

While the majority of sites that offer vehicle history reports do charge a fee, there are sites that offer free vehicle history report. is one such site. Also, the DMV where you live may allow you to lookup certain information about a vehicle if you have the VIN number. While sellers on Craigslist may not provide the VIN, listings nearly anywhere else will have the VIN.

If your DMV offers information online, you may be able to go to the website and put in the VIN and find out whether or not it really has a clean title, at the very least. Also, popular vehicle history report websites like Carfax sometimes offer promotions where you can get a vehicle history report for free. Either way, you should be able to find out a decent amount of information about a vehicle for free, provided that you do have the correct VIN number.

Final Thoughts

As written throughout this article, it is very important to get a vehicle history report if you can. Many sellers will provide free vehicle history reports, and this is something you should look for when browsing through car listings. If the seller does not provide a report and you cannot get them to give you one, you can still find out a great deal of information for free if you have the right VIN number. If the seller refuses to provide the VIN number and does not provide a vehicle history report, this is a serious red flag.

Georgejmclittle /

This article was worked on by a variety of people from the Autoversed team, including freelancers, editors, and/or other full-time employees.