Considering a Used Vehicle? Don't Rely on CARFAX Reports Alone
By Gregory Hurley Published March 3, 2011 Credit Unions Online
I was recently looking at a used vehicle that seemed to be offered at a very fair price and with reasonably low mileage. The dealer claimed to have done a CARFAX report, which came back with a clean title and no accidents. To make sure I would not be surprised by an unexpectedly high insurance premium, I did my research before even taking a test drive. Overall the insurance was not too bad, but my agent said at the end the email, "One last thing, on our auto underwriting insurance screen, it did show 3 accidents the vehicle was involved in." She gave me the exact dates and the type of loss that was sustained. She told me that the information came from a database where many insurance companies pool their information on losses. This is information that CARFAX does not always have.
The dealer was surprised by the information and said that CARFAX is required by law to release any accident information, however the details of how these three accidents missed the CARFAX report remains unclear to me. Needless to say, I decided against that vehicle. Lesson learned. Check other sources besides CARFAX for accident history on used vehicles so you don't get stuck with a vehicle that could have permanent damage to the frame or another significant defect that would not be obvious upon a simple test drive. Even if CARFAX and other sources show no accidents, still be sure to get any used vehicle inspected by a mechanic of your choice prior to purchasing the vehicle.