VinAudit vs CARFAX: Which Is Better? Full Comparison (2023)

VinAudit Review

Like CARFAX, VinAudit is an online record database that provides car history reports. Both car buyers and dealers can use their affordable service to see the details of a car's history.

After spending hours gathering the best used car buying resources, our experts can testify that understanding a VinAudit report is crucial for making smart used car decisions. We’ll dive into what a VinAudit report is and what to look out for.

Key Takeaways

  • A VinAudit report, similar to a CarFax report, details the history of a car including specifications, car records, and accident history, among other details
  • Some VinAudit red flags to look for in vehicles include quick changes of ownership, lack of maintenance, or unaddressed recalls
  • We recommend VinAudit over CarFax because of the significantly lower price point

What is a VinAudit Report?

VinAudit LogoA VinAudit report is a car history report for used vehicles. They provide accessible history reports based on data from many authoritative sources. With a VinAudit report, you receive access to the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System granted by The Department of Justice.

How Much Does a VinAudit Report Cost?

VinAudit provides affordable car history reports. Reports cost only $5 per vehicle, and registered dealers can search for just $1 per car. For a monthly $20 fee, you can check as many cars as you would like.

VinAudit Report Sample & Breakdown

Here is a breakdown of the major sections you can expect to see on a VinAudit report.

Vehicle Specifications

The VinAudit report reveals vehicle specifications. Some examples of information you can find include: VIN, make, model, trim, year, style, mileage, MSRP, fuel type, and other basic information about the vehicle.

vehicle specs vinaudit

Title Records

The Title Records section confirms vehicle ownership based on information from the DMV. You can review when the car was registered and by who and where. This helps you confirm vehicle ownership and ensure a clean title.

Title Records VinAudit

Junk/Salvage/Insurance Records

Find out if the vehicle was ever reported as a total loss by insurance, or registered at a junkyard. This section will also help you determine if the vehicle was sold at a salvage auction.

salvage records vinaudit

Accident & Theft Records

Accidents impact the value of a vehicle, so it’s important to know if the car has been in any minor or major accidents. When police reporting is involved with an accident, it is often marked as a crash.

Keep in mind that VinAudit sources data from several government agencies, police offices, and businesses. While this method provides the best chance at accuracy, the lack of accident records does not guarantee that the car is accident-free.

Theft Records VinAudit

Lien/Impound/Export Records

This section tells you if the vehicle is connected to any documents for impound, export, or lien. A lien means that a financial institution owns the vehicle since the person with the loan did not pay it back.

If an impound lot carried the vehicle, this would show up as well. Lastly, export documents define if the vehicle was sold outside of the U.S.

lien vinaudit

Salvage & Sale Records

Review the entire sale history of the vehicle. This helps you determine the previous number of owners as well as when the car was previously sold and the price the buyer paid. You can see sale records for both dealers and private parties.

Junk Records VinAudit

Title Checks

Check the title against all potential title issues. For example, you can ensure the title is clean vs. branded or salvaged. Branded titles suggest a problem with the vehicle and are permanently marked by the government.

problem checks vinaudit

Patented AutoCheck Score®

This feature allows you to check the vehicle’s predicted reliability and compare it to similar cars in its class.

Other Resources

VinAudit offers other free information and resources that may or may not apply to the vehicle's history.

Market Value

One additional resource VinAudit offers is the Market Value tool. This tool shows the approximate retail value of the vehicle based on sales of similar models across the country.

It shows you the average price, how much prices fluctuate above and below the mean, the number of sales contributing to the data, and the level of certainty.

market value vinaudit

Ownership Cost

The true cost of ownership includes the depreciation of the car lost and the expenses you paid to own the vehicle. The VinAudit cost ownership tool estimates the total cost of owning the vehicle over the next five years.

This tool factors in costs like depreciation, insurance, fuel, repairs, and taxes.

Ownership Cost VinAudit

Buyback Protection

This feature allows for an extra layer of protection on qualified, registered vehicles.

External Resources

VinAudit also shares some external resources. These resources can help you find out more helpful information during your car buying or selling process. Some resources include a car buyer checklist, a car seller checklist, and a bill of sale template.

What Are Some Red Flags in a VinAudit Report?

VinAudit reports can illuminate red flags for vehicles. Here are some of the biggest concerns to keep an eye out for in a vehicle history report:

  • Red Flags VinAuditSeveral Owners and Quick Changes in Ownership. While having more than one previous owner is not necessarily a red flag, many owners with brief ownership could be a concern.
  • Excessive Repairs: You want a well-maintained car, but many repairs could suggest major or recurring issues. Another warning sign is a big repair prior to selling.
  • Lack of Vehicle Maintenance: Lack of repairs and maintenance is just as concerning as excessive repairs. A lack of repair history suggests the previous owner may not have kept up with or documented maintenance and repairs.
  • Title Issues: Does the person (or entity) selling the vehicle match the title? If not, this is a major red flag that can even suggest a stolen vehicle.
  • Salvaged Vehicle: For some car buyers, a salvaged vehicle may still be a good option. However, it does mean the vehicle suffered significant damage previously. You must also ensure your state allows salvaged titles.
  • Unaddressed Recalls: When addressed quickly, recalls are not a big deal. However, you want to ensure the previous owner fixed them before trying to sell.

What Are Some VinAudit Alternatives?

VinAudit is an excellent affordable solution for examining vehicle history reports, but it’s not the only option. VinAudit alternatives to consider include:

  • CARFAX: CARFAX is a major VinAudit competitor and one of the most commonly used resources for car reports. However, it’s significantly more expensive. Read our full review of CARFAX here.
  • AutoCheck: AutoCheck is another affordable option for vehicle history reports. It has free search options with VIN or license plate, or more detailed paid options, like 15 vehicle searches for $49.99.
  • AutoFax: Get a detailed vehicle history report for just $8.99 with AutoFax. They also provide a score based on their assessment of the vehicle, which can help your car buying process.


VinAudit is a great, budget-friendly option for folks interested in buying a used car responsibly. Their reports are thorough and include things like ownership costs and vehicle value. We prefer VinAudit to CarFax and recommend it to prospective used car buyers. Other alternatives include AutoCheck and AutoFax.

Frequently Asked Questions

CARFAX vs. VinAudit, which is better?

VinAudit and CARFAX are both great options for vehicle history reports. VinAudit is an official NMVTIS (National Motor Vehicle Title Information System) platform, which ensures great accurate information. VinAudit is also very affordable compared to CARFAX. However, since CARFAX uses non-government agencies, they can sometimes offer more comprehensive coverage. Ultimately, both are great resources you can leverage when buying a vehicle.

Can I trust a VinAudit Report?

VinAudit reports are trustworthy, but they are not comprehensive. They only rely on government-agency sources, which means they may not reveal everything about the vehicle. Always test drive and inspect the vehicle yourself. A pre-sale inspection can also help you ensure the quality of the used vehicle before buying.

Why should I get a VinAudit report?

You should definitely get a vehicle history report before buying a used vehicle. VinAdudit is an affordable option for acquiring a vehicle report. However, you may also want to compare reports across different sources.

Are VinAudit reports worth it?

VinAudit reports are fairly inexpensive, which makes them well worth the small investment. Paying for VinAudit reports can help you uncover potential issues before buying.

Do insurance companies report accidents to VinAudit?

VinAudit receives reports from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, so not all car insurance companies will report to them. Even when accidents are reported, they may not receive all details.

Do body shops report to VinAudit?

Most body shops will not report to VinAudit, since they are not required to.