CarFax reports may omit vital information on used cars

Beware, used auto buyers! CarFax reports don’t always tell the complete story. As a result, you just might get duped into buying a lemon from an auto dealer that swears by the authenticity of a clean, “accident-free” CarFax report for the vehicle.

CarFax may be the country’s best-known and most-popular vehicle history reporting service, thanks to its clever and memorable television ads featuring that cute and wily “Car Fox.” In fact, the company has invested millions in a marketing strategy to remain “top of mind” for consumers.

How much does CarFax not know?

Since the 1980s, consumers searching for a solid used car or truck have relied on CarFax, but hundreds have found the hard way that the CarFax report – purchased for around $40 and containing crash, maintenance, repairs, mileage and recall information – was incomplete. It may not have included the fact that the vehicle had structural damage due to an accident.

CarFax claims that it has 17 billion vehicle records from 100,000 sources, including insurance companies, auto auctions, car dealers, rental companies, law enforcement agencies and car manufacturers. However, a CarFax report is only as good as the information provided to CarFax.

There’s bound to be one or two … or thousands of such reports that exclude information. Consumers are beginning to wonder, just how much does CarFax not know?

Dealer claims clean report; view with trepidation

When such a report is filled with inaccuracies, who can you trust? It’s probably not the auto dealer, because they, too, have seen the same CarFax report as you.

Remember, an auto dealer’s job is to sell you a vehicle in a “whatever it takes” philosophy. If an auto salesperson tells you that a clean CarFax report means the vehicle was never in an accident, please, please, please look upon that statement with trepidation.

Other things a potential buyer should do

If you are serious about buying a vehicle, here are some things you can do:

  • Do your homework. Online resources can help you find out a lot more about certain vehicles. Were there any recalls? What type of damages is it most susceptible to?
  • Test drive the vehicle on residential streets, highways and parking lots.
  • Hire an independent and trusted mechanic to inspect it. He or she can tell you whether the vehicle had been in an accident or even has flood damage.

CarFax may be a starting point for finding out about a vehicle, but don’t make it the only source. As more and more consumers are finding out, CarFax reports aren’t always reliable. What you see, may not be what you get.

 

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