Carfax - thirteen vehicle records?

I bought a Toyota Yaris new back in '08. It has been back to the dealer once to check on a free warranty enhancement thing. The parts in question were determined sound and not replaced. I ordered one part from the dealer at a later date and installed it myself.

Just out of curiosity, I entered my VIN on the Carfax site. It showed “13 history records” on the vehicle. I also entered the VINs for my '08 Ranger and '13 Hyundai, and they had 11 and 12 “vehicle records”. Neither of these vehicles have seen a dealership or mechanic’s shop since I bought them.

Here is my question- are these vehicle records just a ploy to get someone to buy the Carfax report? If I were to buy the Carfax, what will these records tell me about my vehicles, if anything?

A history record can be just about anything that reports the VIN to any of the databases they search. So, for your 2008, there will be a record of the VIN being assigned to the dealer, the assignment of the VIN to your title (assume you are the only owner), each registration/state inspection event (there’s ten of them right there), and the warranty record.

Same thing for the Ranger.

For the Hyundai, you got me. Maybe it had been traded between a couple of dealers before you bought it?

Oh, have you changed your address since you bought these vehicles? Could be that that could trigger a record. Perhaps traffic tickets?

All Carfax reports I have seen just report the date and mileage of any title change, registration/inspections, insurance claims, those kind of things. I am not sure what California requires from auto shops, but it would not surprise me if the oil change shops report the VIN, date, and mileage to a state database. If they can find a record in any of the databases they search that has your VIN and a date, they report it.

I live in Georgia. We have no inspections, but I guess registrations would take care of most of the reports. I’m not curious enough to spend any money to find out about any of the three vehicles.

If it makes you feel better, I just put in my VIN and it says I have 6 records. My car is two months old and I haven’t done anything to do other than put gas in it since I drove it off the Honda lot.

My last car, that I leased for 3 years has 24 reports, again nothing was done to that but oil changes at the dealer. I’m guessing it’s mostly what excavating said. Just title transfer stuff, if you get your oil/maintenance done at a shop or the dealer, that’s probably on there as well.

Now, there can also be mistakes on it. On one of my cars I brought it in for something (at Honda) and the Service Writer came stomping out to me asking (accusingly) if the car had been in an accident. I told him, several times, that it hadn’t. Then he started asking me why the other Honda dealership had said the door was replaced. Again, I told him I had no idea why they’d have written that. After racking my brain for a while I realized that I’d had something minor done there. I don’t remember now, but they fixed some weatherstripping or broken side view mirror and he said ‘oh, they must have put it in as a new door’. Now, it was warranty service and I know they didn’t replace the door but Honda (or whoever writes the warranty) probably paid them for a new door and I really don’t care…but whoever pulls the carfax on that car might wonder the same thing the service writer did. Was this car in an accident?

Here’s another vote for “not important”. I put in the VIN for our 2012 VW Passat, which we bought new, and that’s never been in any accidents, tickets or anything like that.

17 “reports” on Carfax (not willing to pay to find out what). I’m guessing that they have to be some combination of transfers on initial purchase, registrations, insurance renewals or safety inspections.

Are you saying you do all your own maintenance?

Carfax will show oil changes, if the shop reports to Carfax. I don’t really know how it works but I’m guessing Carfax pays a small fee for this data if shops sign up to give it.

If you go to a car dealer’s web site and look at used cars, many of them include a link to the Carfax report for that car so you can see what one looks like.

Here’s an example. This one includes oil changes, emissions tests, and safety inspections.