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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 decoder 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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I don't trust any of these services including Carfax and Autocheck. I've had three vehicles in 20 years involved in collisions repaired by insurance (none my fault) and all three of those vehicles had a "clean" Carfax and Autocheck. This included a 2010 Pilot that needed $18K in repairs (wife was T-boned), a 2014 Audi S5 that needed $10K in repairs (rear-ended) and a 2014 Mazda3 that needed $8K in repairs (F250 backed into it in a parking lot).

These services depend on insurance companies and shops to report and many do not. A "clean" Carfax or Autocheck or any alternative means little IMO. I think I'd still pull them just to be sure but I'd never buy a used car without a good mechanic taking a look. In all three of the vehicles mentioned above it would be easy for someone with a trained eye to see there were repairs - Ex. The clips used to hold the wheel well liner on the repaired Pilot where slightly different than the OEM ones - once you noticed them you could tell the difference from 5 feet away.

You can't trust dealerships either - All they care about is they can provide a "clean" Carfax or Autocheck - they do not really care if the car was in a collision. All three of those cars were traded to dealers and other than asking for their VINs over email not one dealership ever asked if the car had been in an accident. They run the VIN and when it comes up clean they can sell the car for more and claim ignorance later providing the "clean" Carfax/Autocheck as proof of their due diligence.

In short....TRUST NO ONE!
 

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What he said^^^ CF is the most trust-able source, however it really does rely on shops to report.

Example, 2005ish my stepdad backed his prius into my trucks bedside. Minimal damage. I told the company doing the work to not record the vin, or report it. Paid cash for the repair, and nothing was ever recorded. It was a minor repair, bed support, decal, paint correction and bump-out.
 

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Carfax is really a fraud. It cannot tell you how the vehicle was serviced or by whom and what repairs were made and which may have had to be done more than once (as with a problem transmission for example). I would only buy a used vehicle from a private party who could provide me with all the records for service and repairs. A Carfax report will not tell me when or if the clutch or water pump or timing chain or ATF was replaced or if the prior owner went 20k miles without an oil change or if the front alignment is off from having driven over a curb.
 

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If Toyota or Lexus, just look it up on their respective owners site.

Another reason to only buy Toyota's.

I’ve never brought my cars to a dealership for collision repair and other than one or two warranty repairs I’ve never had my cars serviced at the dealership.

So please tell me if the OP wanted to buy my truck how would your advice be helpful?
 

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I believe what the OP is really asking is how does he know what he's buying is what the seller says he's buying? There is so much fraud in used auto sales on both the dealership and private sales sides that the answer is you'll never really know. I still think the best you can do is have a trained eye get the truck up on the lift and look and pieces together as much information about maintenance as you can with owner provided receipts, Carfax, etc.
 

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I’ve never brought my cars to a dealership for collision repair and other than one or two warranty repairs I’ve never had my cars serviced at the dealership.

So please tell me if the OP wanted to buy my truck how would your advice be helpful?
Easy killer...don't be an a$$

It's simply another option, take it for what you will.
 
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