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Carfax is very often in accurate and incomplete. Saw a story on them on a news story.

Try carproof.com
 

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The problem with all of these services is that they can only tell you what THEY know. I know that sounds obvious, but they are not a "full 'picture"

They are good to know who has owned the car and where it came from, and to see the mileage registered at each ownership. So, good to know a bit of history.

BUT, most people want one to know one of these two things:

a) was it in an accident/flood/etc
b) was the odometer altered

This is where they fall down. For (a) they can only report what was either reported by insurance companies, police departments, or manufacturers. If a guy smashed his car up, took it to a buddy for the work, and paid cash, you will never know, especially if no parts were replaced (ie: a bondo special)

For (b) it will report if a speedo/odo was changed by the manufacturer, and if it was reset to original miles or left at 000000 and indicated on the car, but it can't tell you how long the car drove around with a faulty speedo/odo, or if someone managed to roll it back or reprogram it.

A TopGear Top Tip would be to buy a used vehicle from a reputable dealer, either a main dealer or a good, well established and reputable used car lot. In other words, buy it from someone with something to lose if you get a lemon, as he will be more inclined to make it right. Most main dealers and good used car guys are careful what they keep as trades or buy at auction, so you are usually a-ok there.
 
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