CARFAX reliable?

Discussion in 'Technical Q&A' started by 308tr6, Apr 30, 2004.

  1. 308tr6

    308tr6 Formula Junior

    Dec 23, 2003
    Full Name:
    I just saw on CBS news tonight that CARFAX is being investigated for their claims of accuracy and reliability on the data they provide. I don't know much about CARFAX, but their claims seem to be rather strong (typical US marketing ploys). Anybody know the details here? just curious
  2. Steve King

    Steve King F1 Rookie

    Feb 15, 2001
    Carfax is a rip. All it tells you is when it was registered and what state and if it has a salvage tittle. It will not tell you if it has been hit or drowned nor will it tell you who bought the car. At least if you had a name you could ask them about the history. I used it once and it didn't tell me anymore then the person i bought the car from did.
  3. Joe G.

    Joe G. Formula 3

    Dec 9, 2003
    Los Angeles
    Full Name:
    Joe Gazzani
    I have had three cases where CarFax was inaccurate

    - one time the car had no history on Carfax when it indeed should have. no explanation from carfax

    - second time they had the odometer readings backwards

    - third time car was in an accident with a DMV report but nothing showing on carfax
  4. flashman

    flashman Formula Junior
    Silver Subscribed

    Jan 5, 2004
    Star Valley, Arizona
    Full Name:
    William Rappaport
    I used them twice, just to check up on my Ferrari and Jag.
    Both were totally incorrect as I purchased both new. My Ferrari they had registered in the wrong state, and the Jag was listed as purchased in Florida, not California where I purchased it new from the S.F. dealer. They are a total rip off as far as I am concerned.
  5. Smiles

    Smiles Moderator
    Moderator Owner

    Nov 20, 2003
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Full Name:
    Matt F
    A LOT of things can happen to a car that would never get reported to Carfax. Even if they were meticulously accurate, they wouldn't be able to tell you absoluetly everything about any vehicle's history.

  6. Wiseguy

    Wiseguy Karting

    Apr 25, 2004
    Englewood, NJ
    Full Name:
    Mr Bill
    Carfax is a bit of a joke.

    I'm a used car dealer and we carfax everything and sometimes I have to laugh.

    The whole problem I have with Carfax is in regards to accident reporting. All they tell you is the car had an accident report assuming it happened in a state they buy data from. There are almost 20 states they don't buy data from, California being one of them. On the other hand, they also are sponsoring a bill to release California DMV Accident report info, I read about it in a Trade Journal, "Auto Auction Shopper" I think it was for those of us who get it.

    Here's some lovely examples:

    I just sold a 1997 Saab 9000 Aero. Freaking gorgeous car, NO Paintwork. I bought it from a local new car store and it turns out I knew the one previous owner. Carfax shows an accident. So I call him and ask him about it. Turns out he bumped into someone in a parking lot, didn't damage his car but dented the door of the car he struck. So they called the police.

    I've also seen cars that have clearly been wrecked that have perfect Carfax reports. I have a BMW 5-Series on the lot that's beautiful but has had the RF fender and hood repainted and the RF fender has a "DOT-R" sticker on it. Car has no frame damage, etc.. and it's really nice.

    No Carfax accident report and this has been a Florida car since day 1.

    Go figure.....
  7. gabriel

    gabriel Formula 3

    I agree with the milage issue.
    Every auto I've run always had an alert on the odometer, but, after personal verification, none of them was correct.

    I've just used it to see if there were salvage issues, or the car was stolen, or something of that nature.
  8. Cincy Ken

    Cincy Ken Karting

    Jan 24, 2004
    Carfax isn't perfect; it won't have all the records. But I believe it's still worth the money after you've narrowed your search, just to see whether it turns up anything. If it does, you may decide to keep looking or modify your offer. Even if the surprise turns out to be untrue, it will still represent a blemish on the car's record, which may affect its value. When I was looking at a car, I mentioned to the seller that I still needed to check the Carfax, and he immediately, said, "Oh, well let me tell you what you'll find..." Turns out it was flagged for a possible odometer rollback. When I checked the service records, it seemed pretty obvious that it was a typo, as the mileage was some exact multiple of 10,000 miles more than what was on the service record. But it also made me wonder why the owner didn't take the effort to correct the record with Carfax.

    Some other data points: I checked two cars I've owned since new, one of which (my wife's van) has been in numerous fender benders, one fairly serious, and there were no records of these incidents. On the VW I've had for 17 years, the only entry was a single emissions check.

    So, while they're not very comprehensive, it's probably still worth the small amount to check history before finalizing any offer.
  9. Steve Magnusson

    Steve Magnusson F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa

    Jan 11, 2001
    Full Name:
    Steve Magnusson
    There are two different issues here:

    Is CARFAX reliable = probably not

    (But like "resale-red") Is a bad CARFAX an issue = yes

    On my wife's Jeep at one emission testing the mileage of 39,225 got entered incorrectly as 392,225 -- you can't believe the hoops I had to jump thru to get that corrected. Would it be easily explainable as an error to a future buyer? Probably, but a "bad" CARFAX is never a positive thing so IMO it does affect "perceived value" downward.

    You can't just "ask" CARFAX to fix an error. I had to work thru the states Governor's Office (a three person email chain) to put pressure on the Vendor who conducts the test (another three person email chain) to arrange an appointment to have the odometer "reverified" by the Vendor's representative. It did get straightened out eventually, but it didn't improve my view of bloated and unnecessary Gov't :(
  10. ag512bbi

    ag512bbi F1 Veteran
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Nov 8, 2003
    So. Cal
    Full Name:
    If you don't report your accident to the Insurance company, Carfax will not get the Info.
    So, if you have $10,000 worth of damage to your Ferrari. If you pay for it without insurance and they do a good job, when you sell the car you'll get better $$$$.
    Compared to: You claim your accident to Insuance. The insurance company pays for it. It's recorded as an accident. When it comes time to sell your car. You'll get less $$$. Cause it shows up on your Carfax.
  11. malibumk

    malibumk Karting

    May 14, 2002
    Malibu, CA
    Full Name:
    Mike Klein
    I think they are accurate in what they say....but are only a collection of public records.

    Nevertheless....a bad carfax is a KISS OF DEATH on you MUST assure it is clean.

    But then check the car carefully for condition, collision damage etc.

    No dealer will touch a car without checking the CARFAX.

  12. dhs-9

    dhs-9 Formula Junior

    Feb 6, 2004
    When I was looking for a Ferrar Carfax showed a clean car then I tried Autocheck and it had a salvage title. From now on I will use both together each one will give you a better picture used together.
  13. Smiles

    Smiles Moderator
    Moderator Owner

    Nov 20, 2003
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Full Name:
    Matt F
    Hold on a second. Why is this a TECHNICAL Q & A post?
  14. thecarreaper

    thecarreaper F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    Sep 30, 2003
    Full Name:
    screw carfax, they dont work with older cars, and all of mine except for the daily are old carb cars. those getting newer cars i guess i could see some value, but anything made before 80 something wont work. i know my 81 bandit trans am's vin would never show up, even though i had owned the car for 13 years or so and had bought it from the original owner with 47,321 miles on it. PPi is the best rule of caution. this is a " technical" question, i see no problem why it cant be posted here, but im not a moderator so my .02 means "0" .
  15. PaulC

    PaulC Formula 3

    Feb 11, 2003
    San Antonio, TX
    Full Name:
    I was involved in a MAJOR accident in Sept of last year. I am still arguing with the insurance company over diminished value of my Boxster S. The body shop did an excellent job repairing the car, but it took almost seven weeks and cost over $10,000. Carfax shows my car as clean, it even qualifies for the Carfax buy back guarantee. BTW the car is for sale if anyone wants it.
  16. 4re gt4

    4re gt4 Formula 3

    Apr 23, 2002
    Roseburg, OR
    Full Name:
    Hans E. Hansen
    NO, NO, NO, a thousand times NO.

    They are not accurate, and, most importantly, they WILL NOT FIX THERE RECORDS when an inaccuracy is pointed out.

    Case in point: I saw a title transfer in the state of Oregon where after the transfer the title was marked "Salvage". After contacting OR DMV, they discovered their error and issued a corrected title. However, Carfax still showed it as a total. OR DMV produced an official letter explaining that it was a clerical error which was submitted to Carfax. They refused to do anything about it.
  17. LRPMAN

    LRPMAN Formula Junior

    Oct 31, 2003
    Aiken S.C. & FL.
    Full Name:
    George Pavlisko
    Sold a 1995 mustang coupe that had been FLIPPED and rebuilt. The carfax was clean as the driven snow. They have NO CLUE as to the TRUE CONDITION of any car. Hell my Rolls does not even exist according to them.
  18. Husker

    Husker F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed

    Dec 31, 2003
    western hemisphere

    CARFAX is a classic "Garbage in-garbage out" scenario. CARFAX is ALMOST useless, as it is totally dependent on data input from folks that might be motivated to hide things. CARFAX is like taking a "sugar pill" to cure your headache. It might make you feel better, but it wasn't really the pill that made you feel better.

    If you rely on CARFAX to ferret out car problems and breathe a sigh of relief when it says "NO PROBLEMS FOUND!", you may be in for an unpleasant surprise down the road.

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