Unlike some of its competitors, the AutoCheck vehicle history report is more straightforward and consumer friendly. The web site even encourages consumers to have the car inspected by a third party.

A vehicle history report is just one tool in your buyer's arsenal

Here at Auto Credit Express, we believe the phrase “caveat emptor” was coined specifically for used car buyers. The used car market is often a minefield. It just sits there, looking for all the world like any other meadow, until you happen to step in the wrong place and then – well, you can see where analogy is leading.

Fortunately, there are a number of resources a used car buyer has at his or her disposal. One of the most important of these tools is the vehicle history report. Even though most of these reports contain the same basic information, there is a major difference in how they are marketed.

Carfax versus AutoCheck

The difference between these two sites is immediately apparent from their respective web sites. Where the Carfax site screams out “Don't Buy A Used Car Without Carfax!”, the AutoCheck site methodically explains what the reports are based on. When you click on the “Accident Data” line on the AutoCheck site, it suggests you have the vehicle inspected by a third party. Nowhere on the Carfax site will you see that type of recommendation.

There is also an additional useful tool on the AutoCheck site – the “AutoCheck Score”, which compares the car you are looking at to similar cars and, like a FICO score, distills that information down so that it can be easily understood for comparison purposes.

I could go on with the comparisons, but I will leave you with one final impression: the Carfax site looks like it was designed by an old school used car salesman, while the AutoCheck site appears to have been created by an accountant. Enough said.

Vehicle history reports should be a part of your buying decision

Be sure to run a vehicle history report on any used car you are thinking of buying. Although the information contained in the report may be incomplete, it can certainly be helpful in forming a basis for your buying decision. But there are other things that you can do to finish filling in the rest of the car history puzzle.

Have the car inspected

Ask the seller or dealer if you can have the car inspected (if they refuse, walk away from the deal) and then take it to a certified mechanic – preferably one who is an ASE certified master mechanic. This service normally runs between $100 and $200, but consider that money well spent, as a car with hidden damage could cost you thousands of dollars in repair bills and lower resale value.

The Bottom Line – be sure your next car is the right kind of fruit

The AutoCheck vehicle history report, when used properly, can be a valuable tool in making a buying decision, especially when it comes to determining whether or not your next car will be a cherry or a lemon.