Here's What Might Be Missing From an AutoCheck Vehicle History Report

An AutoCheck report can be a great first step in learning about a used car.

Stack of paperwork on deskManuel Carrillo III | Capital One

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AutoCheck vehicle history reports are widely used by thousands of car dealers and wholesale auto auctions that often provide these vehicle reports to customers every day. They can be a valuable resource for evaluating a used car, but it's not a comprehensive vehicle biography.

Details in an AutoCheck report

Like a Carfax report, AutoCheck doesn't include all the details of a used vehicle's history. However, it can contain some genuinely useful information. AutoCheck reports on data provided by state agencies, insurance companies, repair shops, auctions, and car dealerships. That covers a lot of ground. Autocheck's owner, Experian, advertises that it has access to its "own set of exclusive data," too.

That data doesn't include, however, maintenance performed by car owners, or accidents not reported to law enforcement or insurance companies.

Here's how an AutoCheck report can help you if you decide to use one while searching for your next used car.

Detailed Maintenance History Information on an AutoCheck Report

If you see a large gap between oil changes or missing scheduled maintenance on an AutoCheck report, that's not necessarily a red flag. Not all repair shops and dealerships report to AutoCheck, and many owners will perform maintenance at home.

An AutoCheck report only lists the city and type of business that performed the maintenance and repair for that vehicle. This could be a dealership or an independent repair shop.

Getting a car's history from a dealership might require a few extra steps. Perform an online search on the car's brand (BMW, Ford, etc.) and the city or town where it was serviced. Then call the appropriate dealer and obtain the service history using the car's vehicle identification number (VIN). They might be willing to provide such information, depending on their internal policy.

It's more difficult to find out about specific repairs performed at repair shops or independent repair centers, as AutoCheck calls them. To find out about those services, you might need to ask the current owner where the vehicle was serviced or if they have the records.

Seeking out these details is important because the information provided in the AutoCheck report tends to be far less in-depth than what might be on a typical service receipt.

For example, AutoCheck might give general details about a service visit, such as "engine serviced" or "transmission serviced." Those umbrella terms could mean everything from a routine fluid change to a major repair such as a head gasket replacement.

As always, a pre-purchase inspection can help allay major concerns.

Details in the AutoCheck Report Regarding Car Ownership History

AutoCheck reports can give a solid idea about how many owners a car has had, though there’s a lot more to it than just that raw number.

Cars are sometimes given to other family members who might have needed to be more kind and attentive to their needs. As with Carfax, an AutoCheck history can't document that kind of change in states that do not require a new title if a new driver is added to insurance. Conversely, some states might issue a new title number if a replacement or update is requested. If a car owner moves to a new location, they could get an entirely new title. Such policies can vary greatly by the motor vehicle department.

Ultimately, a good read of the AutoCheck report can help give you an idea of the car's ownership history. AutoCheck can help a savvy shopper eliminate bad cars. It can also inform your next car buying decision by digging a little deeper and relying on thorough inspections to find the best used vehicles.
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Steven Lang
Steven Lang is a special contributor to Capital One with nearly two decades of experience as an auto auctioneer, car dealer, and part owner of an auto auction. Some of the best-known auto publications turn to him for his expert insight. He is also the co-developer of the Long-Term Quality Index, a survey of vehicle reliability featuring over two million vehicles that have been inspected by professional mechanics.