If you are looking at buying a car, particularly a used one, there are some important steps you need to take before you commit to the purchase. Perhaps the most important of all is to check the Vehicle Identification Number – commonly known as the VIN – for this is the individual registration number given to all vehicles. What is the VIN for? It is a source of information that covers all aspects of the cars origins, its history, and its specifications. Before we go onto more detail you may wish to know why this article is titled ‘AutoCheck vs. Carfax’: these are the two main places at which you can check your VIN, and we have taken a look at each to determine the best option.
The first instances of a VIN-type registration mark on vehicles came about in the 1950’s. However, since 1981 every vehicle destined for the road, no matter where it was built in the world, is required to be given an individual number to identify its source of origin, and other information. The VIN is often attached to a metal plate welded to the inner wing under the bonnet, or could on the sill or in the foot-well of the car. Wherever you find it, the VIN will always be a 17-digit code consisting of letters and numbers, and it will tell you who built the vehicle, when and where, and the type of vehicle the VIN applies to. The number should also appear on the registration documents of the vehicle, and it is vital that buyers check that the two tally.
Here is a brief breakdown of how a European Standard VIN works: the first three digits refer to the manufacturer of the vehicle; the six characters following these indicate the type of vehicle that the VIN refers to. The remainder are a completely unique code that is solely for that individual vehicle. By checking the VIN on the vehicle with that on the paperwork you are given it is immediately apparent whether the vehicle is the one the paperwork refers to. If there any differences between the two – even the very slightest difference – the best advice is to walk away from the purchase.
There are further reasons why checking the VIN on a vehicle you intend to purchase is a good idea: if a vehicle is stolen the VIN is entered onto a database when the theft is reported. This allows buyers to check with the authorities to see if the vehicle is in the hands of a legitimate owner. Be sure to do so, because a stolen vehicle may be given back to its rightful owner by law, and you may have no recompense. The police also use the VIN to check the status of cars that they stop by the roadside and suspect may be stolen.
We stated before that the VIN can be found in various places: sometimes, it is apparent that the vendor is not willing to help you find the VIN. In such circumstances one has a right to be concerned, as any legitimate owner should have no problem with you checking such details. Once more, if they act reluctant, do not conclude the purchase. Now that we understand what a VIN is for, let’s move on to the AutoCheck vs. Carfax discussions, and see what we think of their service.
AutoCheck – Market Leading VIN Check
First, why are we running a Carfax vs. AutoCheck comparison? Quite simply, these are the two market-leading names in the VIN-checking business, and each has plenty to offer. Let’s have a look at AutoCheck first.
The first point we would like to make is that AutoCheck has a comprehensive website offering a great deal of useful information: tips on buying a car, checking the VIN, other ways of determining if the car is genuine and your legal obligations having purchased the vehicle. There are also good instructions on how to carry out a sensible inspection of the car.
AutoCheck includes a function whereby you can check the car’s license plate, and offers a range o services from the very basic to a full comprehensive checking service. This means that, whatever your budget, you can choose the range of checks you want to carry out. As part of Experian, one of the biggest insurance organizations around, AutoCheck comes with the confidence of being part of a major corporation, and all its services are well priced. AutoCheck can also help you look at the finance history of the car, to determine whether there are any outstanding HP payments attached to it. Again, the car remains the property of the finance company until paid for and, if you buy one with outstanding debt on it unwittingly, you will not be reimbursed.
The AutoCheck service includes an insurance history check so that buyers can make sure the car has not been written off and returned to the road: this is not an uncommon occurrence, and can lead to dangerous vehicles being on the road. To sum up, AutoCheck is a well thought-out and comprehensive checking service with many satisfied customers.
Carfax – Established VIN-Checking Service
As the other main name in the VIN checking world Carfax is well placed to offer an excellent service. Our Carfax vs. AutoCheck investigation found that it offers many of the services offered by AutoCheck, including the important license plate, insurance and finance history checks, plus accident damage reports and also whether the car has been solely used for domestic purposes. The latter check ensures you are not unknowingly buying a hard-driven ex-taxi.
Again, the service is simple to use, the website neatly laid out and navigable, and the prices are reasonable in every way. Of course, what you want to know is the result of the AutoCheck vs. Carfax comparison.
AutoCheck vs. Carfax – Which One to Choose
It is safe to say that both of these providers offer a decent service, with a full range of checks at sensible prices and all the necessary areas covered. After careful analysis, we have come to the conclusion that, thanks to greater ease of use and a full 26-point check, plus a range of options appealing all budgets, we prefer the AutoCheck service. We cannot understate the importance of checking a VIN, so if you are looking to buy a used vehicle, head to the AutoCheck website and take advantage of the excellent advice on offer.