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Think the CarFax report you just paid for is accurate?

January 16, 2019

Before you even think of ordering one, read my story – it will save you at the very minimum $39.99 and keep you from losing thousands of dollars!

Don’t learn the hard way!

Millions of customers order a CARFAX Vehicle History Report according to their website; however, CARFAX is the most expensive way to get inaccurate data!  I will tell you how to get better data – for free and share my story.  Read on –

I was in the market for a used car for my daughter who was starting college and decided to visit a local dealership to see what kind of vehicles I could get in my price range.  

This dealership uses CARFAX as a sales tool, and they include the report in every used vehicle on the lot in their sales process.  I found the perfect car – a 2013 Honda CRV that had 50K miles.  The car was a Certified Pre-Owned Vehicle, and as a part of the sales transaction, I was given a clean Carfax that was dated five days before my purchase date.  Just for the record, this Carfax report stated no structural damage, no airbag deployment, and no accidents or damages. I thought CARFAX reports were good. Everyone orders them!

At the time, getting a three-year-old car that was Certified, with 50K miles and a clean Carfax report – this was a great purchase for me.   I added it to my insurance and never even gave it a second thought.

During the year, I did notice a few things that didn’t add up to the claims of a CARFAX Clean Certified car – one of which was the steering; the second was the paint on the hood. However, I didn’t drive this car much and had never owned a CRV before, so I did brush them off.    Closer to my insurance renewal, I had my Independent Insurance Agent quote the insurance with a different carrier. When I purchased the car, my policy was not near the renewal.  During the quoting process, my agent came back to me and asked me the purchase date – which I confirmed.   When an Independent Agent quotes insurance, they often pull from a similar database and product like CARFAX – this report is called a clue report.   On this clue report much to my surprise, this vehicle had an accident history with not one, but two significant accidents before I purchased the car.  

The first accident had over $15K worth of damage to this car.  The second accident was only a minor $3000 accident.  Nonetheless – this was supposed to be a CARFAX clean Certified Pre-Owned vehicle.  

Looking at the Carfax – I noticed that right after the first claim, there was a maintenance inspection by a  Honda dealer, different from where I purchased the car.   I called them to inquire about the work order.   I made sure that I was clear when I called that I was not interested in any personal information, but just details on the type of service this was.   All they were willing to give me was that it was an airbag repair for a local collision shop. 

I decided to take my loan paperwork, the title and the actual vehicle to that local collision repair facility.  Once I proved that this was my car – I asked them if they could provide a nameless repair order so that I could access what type of accident and the repair history to my vehicle.  The Honda dealer serviced the airbags so if the airbags deployed and it was not on the CARFAX report, which in my opinion is significant – was this car even safe?    I was very appreciative of the repair facility but sick to my stomach thinking that I had purchased a Certified Pre-Owned CARFAX clean car that had to undergo 6 hours of labor to straighten the frame and to have added frame supports, airbags replaced, and a complete front end, the result of what appeared to be a head-on collision. 

I stopped with that accident and didn’t even investigate the second accident.  I now was faced with a serious dilemma.   I did not want this car, but how would I get rid of it?  How could I sell this car, knowing that the CARFAX is clean (this accident was in 2013, and the quote was late 2017) or without disclosing what I now know about this car?  I could never deceive a dealer or individual buyer.

To make the long story short – I approached the Dealer who claimed that they missed some of the obvious indications in the Certification process after now looking at the info that I had provided and inspecting the car.   The second Honda Dealership serviced the airbags, and it does make me wonder why one Honda dealer didn’t have info from another Honda dealer?!?   How could you miss these things – did they become complacent and rely on the inaccurate CARFAX report to quickly stamp it Certified? Are we putting too much faith in these CARFAX reports?

I did get the dealer to work with me in the purchase of a new vehicle so that I could get out from under this vehicle.  If I had had more time, I would have probably fought harder to get a better resolution and not lose as much money as I did. However, getting rid of this vehicle and not having to worry about someone else getting it, was the main mission.

The moral of the story is that according to the CARFAX website, millions of people are ordering a $39.99 vehicle history report that is, in my opinion, worthless and could cost them thousands of dollars, like me.   Instead, call your local independent insurance agent and have them provide you a quote on your prospective vehicle purchase and make sure they run a clue report.  This simple quote is something that most independent insurance agents do for free to write or service your business.  

I know your thinking that I am in the Insurance Industry and all I am doing is promoting the Independent Agent.  My point that I want to get across is that the CARFAX report that is available for a fee may not be accurate as I thought it was and should not be the sole source of a purchase decision.  The solution is simple, call your independent agent and ask them to provide a quote.  In my case, it would have saved me several thousand dollars and quite a bit of my time!

Thank you for reading and please share!


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