CARFAX exposed by ABC's 2020

Many people have said it right here. CARFAX does not know everything about every accident any given car may have been in. It is unfortunate that many people think CARFAX is in-fallible. Tonight on 2020, ABC proved it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Here is a link to the segment.

Very interesting read and I’m certainly not surprised by any of it. Note the comment by the Carfax Communications Director; a.k.a. a PR flack.

“It’s impossible to know how much we don’t know,”

Unfortunately, don’t expect much to change. Carfax will continue the ads and likely will increase the ad budget to counteract the story while the dealers will continue to promote it as the last word on vehicle condition. :frowning:

A clean carfax will not tell me if a used car is worth buying. A bad carfax will tell me if it’s not worth pursuing. As with anything, buy the seller as much as the car. Get a service history and pre-purchase inspection. I’ve been doing this for 30+ years of used car buying without fail.

I use carfax to see it’s registration history rather than repair records. If a car has spent most of its time in AZ, NM and other nice dry areas, it could be OK. If it lived most if its life in NY, VT, MA or other rust belt states, I’ll pass.

We have been warning potential buyers on this forum for a long time, I guess we have to get more dramatic with a video and a report.

I have never trusted Carfax. The only thing I trust is a good inspection by a competent mechanic. A complete service history must be available before the inspection even starts. The owner’s manual safely tucked away in the glove compartment or center console is a big plus.

They legally cover the subject but slyly NEVER emphasize that they only have the info…’‘That’s reported to CarFax.’’

This is the key caveat that everyone misses…and mistakenly thinks they know everything.
CarFax is banking on the fact that the american public just doesn’t listen to the words in the commercials.

Yah, they know everything…THAT’S REPORTED TO THEM !

They don’t go out and get any info at all.
somebody has to tell them.

The problem isn’t the CarFax so much as incompetent or shady dealers. If the body shops hired by 20/20 can find the damage, the dealers could and should have, too. IMO, they had an obligation to check further when they found the damage and fix whatever was wrong.

What incentive does a mechanic have to input data into CarFax? He just wants to finish his repair job and move on to the next money making job. Why would he take the time to enter anything into Carfax?

I don’t think that small shops have an incentive. But any dealer does. As you can see from the discussion above, many buyers want to see the CarFax. And most dealers want to fill up the database with maintenance and repair data because it helps sell cars. I bought a 2010 Cobalt a few months ago. It had only 14,500 miles on it. I thought that was suspicious. After obtaining the CarFax from the dealer (on line), I examined it in detail. It showed about 8 visits to the dealer for maintenance, and the mileage between visits was evenly divided. To me, this meant that the car was likely not off the road for damage repairs. In my case, the CarFax was useful.

When it became a big “negative” to have a bad Carfax report, car dealers, insurance companies and collision repair shops took steps to avoid having a reconstructed car appear on Carfax’s records…Even if a car has been “totaled” by an insurance company, there are means of laundering the title to make the negative report go away…

Some people believe that carfax is the gospel truth concerning a vehicle purchase. And some dealers dont say any different.

I have heard that if there is no police report then there is no carfax.

Quoting @Caddyman "there are means of laundering the title to make the negative report go away…"
Since it has become a federal requirement to have all salvage titles “branded” as such, I’d like to know how that can happen. Other than hearsay, does anyone here have any way to prove that statement? We’ve all heard it. I’d like to know if it’s true.

I don’t think that it’s too difficult to launder a title in some way. Just one example in the cut and paste below.

To see what happens to lemons, Experian Automotive, which specializes in collecting and analyzing automotive data, picked at random 1,000 Florida vehicles that were branded lemons, from a list on a state Web site. Experian found that 555 had been taken out of the state. And four-fifths of those 555 cars no longer had titles branding them as lemons, according to an analysis conducted for The New York Times.

My memory is very hazy on this but I seem to remember some years ago that a large, well-known insurance company had actually laundered the titles on thousands of cars after paying off on them.
I seem to recollect this happened in Ohio (?) and the Attorney General may have fined them millions of dollars. What’s a fine compared to the value of thousands of laundered cars though.
My equally hazy memory seems to vaguely recall a similar incident in Louisiana some years ago before Katrina came along.

@ok4450 We were talking about salvage titles.

You’re talking about “lemons”

A car that was bought back by the factory as a “lemon” doesn’t get a salvage title. Records will show that it was bought back, however.

Is it possible we’re talking about two slightly different things?

Jtsanders Said, " In my case, the Car Fax was useful. " Here’s Another Case.
A few Years Ago I Was Shopping CPO Cars And The Dealers Presented Free Car Fax Reports.

One Car, A Good Deal, Low Miles And Less Than 18 Months Old, Showed Not One, But Two Previous Owners. I Immediately Passed. It Could Have Been Fine, But It Created Negative Vibes In My Mind. I’d Be The third owner. I Don’t Think I’d Have Known Without The Report.

I don’t assume that anything not in the report never happened, but if the report shows something that smells bad, I certainly consider it.

I get fussy when buying a late model CPO car. I also passed up a good deal simply because the spare tire had been obviously (for anybody who checks) gently used, that’s all.

If given a free Car Fax, I’ll look at it.


@db4690 Title washing is title washing no matter the reason. A Lemon buyback is supposed to be noted as such on the paperwork, but…

Back to salvage only titles, it still goes on. The example I referred to previously regarding an insurance company did not even involve Lemon buybacks but were flood vehicles. My fuzzy memory just does not remember the details. One of many cut and pastes below; and that’s just the ones they were caught on.

If I wanted to, I could get a clean title in OK on a salvage branded car. Simply toss the branded title in the trash can and file through the Title 42 process. Some short weeks later a clear, clean title will be handed over after jumping through the required hoops.

@ok4450 I’m not doubting you, but do you personally know anyone that has chucked their bad title and obtained a clean title “through the Title 42 process” ?

I just read that article. That guy isn’t going to serve anywhere near 20 years. He probably won’t even serve 1/4 of the time.

I don’t know what the Title 42 process is. I have bought salvage title vehicles out of OK, TX and MO. I never questioned trying to erase that status after they were fixed and branded as rebuilt.

A duplicate title in my state will most certainly still carry the salvage or rebuilt salvage brand if the original did. All that info is kept in the state’s computer files. Elephants and computers never forget.

Yep, you can repeat it 1,000 times, but there are still idiots out there who are willing to trust people who have a conflict of interest when they buy a used car.

Yes, I personally know someone (deceased as of about a year ago) who used to build heaps on occasion and sell them. The tag agent would fork over a clean title no matter what.
I’ve also worked for a few dealers who took in extremely low miles cars (3k to 20K miles) with clean titles. The cars were resold and a week or so later when the customer came back with a problem it was discovered that the things should have been crushed rather than repaired. One car (3k miles) was actually 2 that had been welded together at the firewall and another had a badly broken and poorly repaired front subframe and floorpan that had snapped in two a week after purchase. With the latter, the only thing holding it all together was the shock, swaybar, and the steering. The dealer bought both of those cars back and dumped them as salvage.

Just one more cut and paste story to add to the list.

When it comes to money, someone will find a way to skirt the law. On a few occasions tag agents in OK have been burglarized and the main thing taken? Boxes of blank OK titles along with a cash box.
The last incident I remember a couple of years ago involved about 700 blank titles being taken if I remember the number correctly and there’s only one reason to heist blank titles; hauling them to another state to clean up some car issues.

The Title 42 in OK means that someone can go through a procedure (or have it done for a fee) and acquire a fresh new title on a car for whatever reason. The process is a bit of an irritant but one could for example throw a NC Salvage title into the trash and end up with a non-salvage OK title.

For what it’s worth, I personally have 2 clean OK motorcycle titles for bikes that don’t exist. One goes with a set of bare engine cases and with the second there is nothing there at all.
The second was issued to me when the DMV insisted on a frame number on a custom build and could not comprehend that old Harleys never had them to begin with. They wanted proof of a bike so what they got was 2 pics of a pile of parts with said pile consisting of an old AJS frame, 2 bare wheels from something, an old gas tank, a horse trailer fender, and an armload of VW Beetle air cooled engine parts.
The DMV was insisting that I grind the factory VIN off of the engine cases and restamp it with a different VIN but that ain’t gonna happen in a million years.

The parts pile above may sound laughable but it was good enough for the DMV… :slight_smile: