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Carfax Maintenance Records

I found an 06 Toyota Corolla that seems clean and checks out on the Carfax. However, if I were to believe the Carfax, the previous owner was neglectful with changing oil. Does the Carfax necessarily show all oil change records? What would a mechanic check for if the car was neglected?

Do You Believe That Odometers Are Never Tampered With?
Do you believe that odometers are tampered with?

I would say that it is possible that that the car was properly maintained, perhaps by independent, competent technicians. I would say that it is possible that the car was not properly maintained and that oil changes were neglected. More homework is necessary if this concerns you, which it apparently does. Determining totally proper maintenance would be very difficult for a mechanic without disassembling components of the vehicle. However the car could be checked for needed repairs. Is this car out of warranty? Have the owner produce all the service records for the vehicle. You can roll the dice and buy it if none of this works out. You can walk away until money changes hands.

Anyone who relies solely on Carfax may wind up being surprised with some bad news later, as shown by a number of posts on this board. I think that your mechanic knows what to check, but if you want my opinion of what should be checked if oil change intervals are suspect, I would suggest taking off a valve cover and checking for sludge. If evidence of sludge is found, then I would suggest a compression check.

Overall, wouldn’t it be easier to limit your potential used car purchases to those that come with maintenance records? There are a whole lot of used Corollas out there, and surely I can’t be the only car owner who keeps all of his maintenance records.

I know that I am a bit obesessive on this topic, but I even maintain a small chart detailing the date and the odometer mileage of all services performed on my cars. This way, I can see at a glance when the serpentine belt was last changed, or when the brake pads were replaced, or when the transmission fluid was changed or… That sure beats having to go through a pile of invoices each time that you are wondering when a certain procedure was last done.

P.S. Incidentally, I would also advise you to have your mechanic check for possible collision damage, as Carfax DOES NOT always reveal an accident in the car’s past.

I just bought an Accord recently and a quick glance at it’s CarFax shows that the oil was changed at regular intervals ONLY because the previous owner elected to maintain their car at the dealership. It even showed other stuff like brakes, tires, even when a new starter was installed.

But I STILL had the car inspected by not one, but 2 mechanics. My shade-tree friend and my regular Indy mechanic. So it’s important to have a car inspected, either way.

There are alot of things you can inspect yourself. Check this out, it will get you started.

A couple of illustrations down it shows Clean engine vs. Dirty engine based on an inspection of the oil filler neck. Anyone can do that. It also shows what the dipstick is supposed to look like.

Good luck hope this helps.

Jeff, I Missed Hearing What Happened To The Oil Consumption Issue On Your Accord
How’d that go?

If the previous owner was a DIY or had family or friends do off-the-record work on the car , it will not be in CarFax. My 79chev p/u & 92 Explorer are perfect examples of NO carfax records.

If it runs nice and quiet at idle and all speeds, I wouldn’t worry too much. Most 06’s still have some factory warranty left.

I would not buy a 06 that didn’t have at least a year or so left of bumper to bumper. Many also come with 100,000 mile drivetrain warranty. If you’re not getting an included warranty - keep looking.

Very little weight should be given to a CarFax report. These reports seldom have maintenance or repair histories and are frequently wrong.

CarFax is a business venture designed to make money by convincing people that their report is the final word on the history of the vehicle and CF has done a pretty good job of promoting their plan.
Dealers use it for the same reason. It’s a sales tool to aid in selling the car; nothing more.

Wonder how much money CF has coughed up on their guarantees… :wink:

Carfax does NOT necessarily show all oil change records!

The ONLY thing that Carfax is good for is detecting deliberate fraud. Basically, it can detect salvage titles, cars that have been used in fleets and odometer rollbacks and that’s pretty much it.

The only reason the carfax shows ANY service records is to record the mileage. So if you went and looked at a car and saw that it had the oil changed at say 80,000 miles but the odometer only reads 30,000 then you’d know the odometer had been rolled back. But many, if not most, repair shops DO NOT report to Carfax, so the absence of service records on it is nothing to be concerned about.

What you find listed in Carfax is questionable. What you don’t find in Car fax is totally meaningless.

Of all the cars I have owned since 1965, not one of the is going to show any maintenance, except maybe on brake job while I owned it. Unless the owner went to the dealer for service I doubt if Carfax is going to have a record of it.

While a lot of people live by it, I would not bother with Carfax myself.


I changed the PCV Valve and it has been about 700 miles since I added oil; Still a full crankcase. Keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks for checking in on me.

BTW, I wouldn’t pay $$$ for a CarFax report unless I was really, really, really serious about buying the car. Dealerships will have these on the house but private sellers, most likely will not. Good luck.

My favorite test to buy or not buy a car is to rub my finger on the inside of the tailpipe and smell the residue, This may be less effective with catalytic converters, but I will pass on cars with lots of black soot that smells gassy or like burnt oil. A compression test would be a good indicator for wear caused by a lack of oil changes.