Buying a Used Car? Try These Three Free Vehicle History Services

Originally published at:

Buying a car but don’t want to blow your budget on CarFax lookups? Josh Centers went through this recently and found three useful free vehicle history services that he has built into a process that anyone can follow.

Check out these certified programs. They usually get their cars off of a lease with just a single owner. They then overhaul the cars replacing worn parts and replacing all the fluids. Some programs are better than others and the cars the dealer sells seem like the best models under the program.

My second best used car buying experience was with a certified used car program. I bought a GTI from VW’s certified program and it was like new. It also came with a two year warranty which was added onto the remaining three year warranty the car already had. I ended up with a longer warrenty than I would have if I had bought the car new. I saved over $8,000 compared to a new car.

My best used car buying experience is with a particular dealer in our town. He’s well known in the community and it isn’t unheard of people buying a half dozen or so cars from him over the years. I’ve bought four cars from him. I even ended up buying a car from him sight unseen. I literally called him up when I was out of town, said I needed a car, flew back home, and picked it up on my way home. Few businessmen have earned that much trust — especially ones that sell used cars.

Yeah, certified is always a good choice if you have the budget for it, but even then you should investigate its history. My certified Corolla was a rental, and you could tell by the abuse on the interior: it’s obvious that someone slashed up the inside with a knife. But I’ve been driving that car for over 8 years now! I bought it intending it to last ten years but now I’m optimistic that I might get 20 out of it.