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I was browsing on the net for free Carfax reports as I am on a tight budget right now to make additional purchases beside what I allotted for my car. Suddenly, I found this free VIN check site. Not sure if legit. Should I trust it as a reference, or should I still opt for a paid service with an established reputation like Carfax or AutoCheck?
 

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Welcome to TN.

When dabbling in sites that might be offering malware instead of information, be sure you have malware / virus protection active.

But in general, no matter who is offering the info, the results might be incomplete.Some things just don't make it into official databases. I consider Carfax or Carfax-like products only a first filter, such as whether it's a flood car, or been in a major accident, or at some point was resurrected from salvage. I wouldn't use them as the final deciding point -- that's best done via a complete pre-sales check by a competent mechanic.

Yes, that costs money, usually in the neighborhood of $100. If you don't want to make that outlay, spend some hours on youTube watching every "what to look for in a used car" video you can find. And invest in an OBD code reader.

If you're looking at a specific range of vehicles from Toyota, be sure to ask for common problems in each vehicle's specific forum here on TN. Every vehicle out there has some set of things that regularly go bad -- knowing what these are helps you evaluate a given candidate for purchase.
 

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If it is free, compare it to other free VIN lookup websites. Some states DMVs or DOTs (I forget which one, probably DMV) may also have some websites listed for people to look up VINs too.
 

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A few years ago I looked up a vehicle on one of the CarFax alternate sites. The report said there were no problems, but when I checked the details, there were two consecutive mileage statements--the later one was lower than the previous. I don't know CarFax is any better. It pays to read the report carefully.
 

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A few years ago I looked up a vehicle on one of the CarFax alternate sites. The report said there were no problems, but when I checked the details, there were two consecutive mileage statements--the later one was lower than the previous. I don't know CarFax is any better. It pays to read the report carefully.
Should be best to check multiple sources instead of just one.
 

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1. flashlight
2. paint thickness meter
3. good eye
equals best Carfax.
No, VIN check is not as good as Carfax and trust me, it's not gonna be free also.
You can spot a lot of car problems just looking at pictures on say craigslist.
Any fleet vehicles do not report problems to Carfax also. Same goes for rental cars.
 

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Would love to see a tutorial on this. I'm assuming you mean exterior/body issues...
Generally speaking, just check everything. Check the VIN or the carfax from mutiple online sources whether unknown or State. Then get the car and inspect it as thoroughly as possible if they let you look at it/test drive it. Or take it to your trusted mechanic and let them inspect it.
 

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You guys have no idea, how well a stolen car can be masked as legal, or wrecked as never hit never painted. And that is not from scumbags on craigslist. That also comes form dealers. And not just from Russian dealers. I know first hand from a bud who worked as painter for a dealer, that they once replaced entire rear quarter panel on a new car, damaged during unload. Then repainted it and sold as new. And that was down here where I live.
 

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And I totally forgot my mantra -- for a Toyota vehicle, you can find limited service records and other information about the vehicle via the Toyota Owner's site:
Click on "Join now," enter VIN
Car original specs and service history (dealer service done) under My Vehicle
Maintenance Schedule under Parts & Services
Manuals and Recalls under Resources
 
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