7 Carfax Alternatives That Will Save You Money

My wife and I were recently shopping for an RV. When you’re shopping for a used RV, many of the considerations are the same as when buying a car. Not all, of course. (RVs are VERY different from a car.)

But, when buying a used car, running a VIN number search is almost always a good idea.

If you’re not already familiar with it, a VIN number is a long string of letters and numbers that identify your vehicle. It is usually found on the dashboard, tucked up close to the base of the windshield. Each vehicle has a unique VIN.


When you look up your VIN, it can tell you a lot of useful information about the vehicle, including:

  • Title history
  • Accident history (if any)
  • Lease/rental history
  • Maintenance history (usually only available if dealer maintained, since most mechanics don’t report work done)

Carfax is the best known site for checking VIN numbers. Problem is, they also happen to be rather expensive. Carfax is very good and they have a lot of data sources, so perhaps it is worth the money for you. If you go with the monthly plan and car shop pretty intensively for the month, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth. But, if you just check one or two vehicles, it is expensive.

Now, let’s get one thing out of the way right now…

There really are NO free Carfax alternatives. The only thing that even gets close is the NICB database, but that will only tell you if there is any criminal history involving the vehicle (as in, reported as stolen.). You can VIN check there for free, but it isn’t going to tell you all the things you would want to know about a prospective vehicle.

Here are some Carfax alternatives to check out:

  • VinAudit – $9.99 for a vehicle history report
  • VinSmart – $9.95 for their report
  • CheckThatVIN – $2.95 for each lookup
  • InstaVIN – $6.99 for history report, with other options, too. They have a free mobile app you can use while car surfing.
  • AutoCheck – Thorough report, but it is $29.99 per report. They also have a monthly rate which is on par with Carfax. This is an Experian company, so don’t expect bargains.
  • ReverseVINCheck
  • VINAlert

One thing to keep in mind is that if you’re buying from a dealer, they will usually provide you a Carfax report for free. You simply need to ask for it.

But, if you’re buying from small-time dealers or from private parties, it is best to be a smart consumer and run a VIN check on anything that you’re serious about.




  1. VinAudit looks pretty sweet imho!!!

  2. A CarFax report doesn’t always tell you if the car was in a wreck. I believe it was 60 Minutes (the TV show) that tracked some wrecked vehicles that did not show up as such in the CarFax report.

  3. I found the video and article on the CBS web site:


  4. InstaVIN is the best in my opinion information provided is in real time.

    • InstaVIN is so out of date in comparison to others. Still reported my vehicle registered in the state i bought it from almost 2 years ago… What a waste…

  5. InstaVIN us the best value and better data then others overall. They have excellent customer service. VinAudit won’t even answer the phone.


  6. Let’s not forget about http://vincarhistory.org/
    I’m using them for more than 3 years. Goodbye, Carfax!

    • Takes you to VinCheckPro.com and there is a fee to get any information – its not free! Hate sites like this, they want all the information from you before you find out its a paysite, and then you get spammed from all over – trying to sell you a new car.

  7. Vehicle history report is the important information which precedes a made use of vehicle in addition to salvage and
    insurance policy documents.

  8. Christhian says:

    you forgot http://vincarhistory.com , use 2 years and very happy

  9. Brad Owen-Baine says:

    Carfax offer defaults to “unlimited” reports. However, this is not unlimited VIN it is only unlimited by plate number. Don’t be fooled. The offers are 1. (1) report 2. (5) reports 3. unlimited by plate NOT Vin number. You can cancel after receiving 2 reports. So if you want to get two FREE reports, activate the unlimited service but then cancel it after opening only 2 reports.

    Also read other reviews where the reports are not helpful and may not report serious issues with the vehicle you are interested in. In fact, a vehicle I purchased new had 5000 miles at first reported service. However, carfax reported this as 50,000 miles. I ended up purchasing a vehicle that showed a clean report but actually had major damage to the passenger side. Replacing a cracked headlight alone cost me $1000. In addition, carfax does not offer a phone number to call for addressing your customer service issues. GOOD LUCK

  10. April Hill says:

    Unfortunately, I have tried instavin and their reports are very outdated. I know the car has at least 3 owners but their report list only the original!

  11. vinaudit is the best of all the Carfax alternatives. they also have discount coupons you can use to avail of discounts

  12. Apparently none of them will have all the details. It’s like a crapshoot trying to discover which one might provide you with a complete report. It would be beneficial if they had some information visible to determine whether it was worth purchasing, such as dates of recorded information and the type of information. Right now it’s all promises and few if any guarantees.

  13. Mary Hatch says:

    Not sure on the others, but Instavin is a total waste of money.

  14. Mark Statkus says:

    VinAudit doesn’t show maintenance it seems. Pretty much like throwing $9.99 in a well.

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