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Carfax Reports: Why They're Not Always Accurate

Updated on March 21, 2011

Carfax Reports Aren't Always The Gospel

"Let Me See The Carfax Please"

When it comes to buying a used car these days, there is one thing that is on most people’s minds when they come to making their decision. They want to see the “Carfax Report.” We’ve all seen the commercials of late right?

A customer is in a car dealership looking to purchase a used car and they want to see the Carfax Report before making a decision. And of course the sales person say’s something like, “Here's the Car Flaps.” “Car Flaps” The customer says questioning the salesperson. “No, I want to see the Carfax.”

Many consumers won’t make a used car buying decision until and unless they can see a copy of the Carfax report. And yet others will make their final decision based on what’s on the report whether it’s good or bad.

Carfax Reports Aren't Always Accurate...

But here’s the long and the short of Carfax reports…They aren’t always 100% accurate, and therefore you shouldn’t put 100% of your buying decision solely based on a Carfax report. Personally, I’ve seen vehicles come into a dealership for trade, and the trade had obviously been repaired. In other words, you could look at the vehicle and see obvious signs of paint work and body damage that was repaired.

When a car comes in for trade, and the dealership suspects previous body damage in many cases they will pull a Carfax report to see what’s on the report. In several instances, the Carfax report didn’t show a previous accident. So the question is, how could a vehicle that was in an accident not show up on a Carfax report?

How Could An Accident NOT Show Up On The Carfax Report?

There are several ways that could happen with one being that the car wasn’t in an accident. The paint work that the dealership detected on the vehicle could actually have happened at another car dealership. In other words, the paint work was minor like a bumper which wouldn’t be reported on a Carfax report.

Another way would be the customer never reported anything to the insurance company nor had a police report filed. For instance…Let’s say you went to the grocery store, and when you came out you noticed that someone hit your car; it was a hit and run.

If the customer decided that he is going to “bite the bullet” and pay for the repairs himself (because he knows that his insurance rates will go up), then there is no way that accident would hit a Carfax report.

Insurance companies are one of the bigger sources when it comes to information regarding a Carfax report. If the insurance company wasn’t involved, then there is no way it would get on the report.

Another way the report could be wrong would be of all things human error. How does information get on a Carfax report? Some hourly worker inputting the information which means that human error comes into play on misinformation on Carfax reports.

Myriad Mileage Discrepancies

One of the big issues with the reports is the mileage. I’ve seen several reports that had incorrect mileage. That can be an enormous hill to climb if the mileage on the Carfax report doesn’t jive with what’s on the vehicle. But that’s a pretty easy one to figure out by getting a signed odometer statement copy.

Again, human error plays a big role in the validity of a Carfax report. Although if you were a customer that was looking to purchase a vehicle, and on the Carfax report there seemed to be a mileage discrepancy, you might end up passing on the deal.

Carfaxs' Class Action Law Suit

Also there is the class action law suit that Carfax was embroiled in for several years. The long and the short of the law suit was that their reports were not accurate; they were missing information. If they weren’t getting accurate information, then the Carfax report would obviously be wrong. Click Here to read more about this.

So when it comes time to purchasing a used vehicle, look at the vehicle history report whether it’s from Carfax or another company, but don’t assume that the report that you’re looking at is 100% accurate.


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