carfax report
What is Salvage title?

What Won’t a Carfax Report Tell Me And How Does Carfax Work?

By Mike Richards Updated: 08/08/2022 Posted: 10/24/2015

If you’re considering buying a used car, or a car at auction, you’ve probably heard that getting a Carfax report can help you to avoid making a bad purchase. That’s true to a certain extent, but there are certain things that a Carfax report won’t tell you. You also have to keep in mind that a Carfax report is just like any other tool, and there’s a limit to what it can do for you. How does carfax work, how much carfax costs, and other things you will know if read on.

There are things that a Carfax report won’t tell you, and here’s what to watch out for.


Not All Totaled Vehicles Have a Salvage Title

A Carfax report tells you the status of the vehicle someone submits the paperwork changing the title. If the paperwork wasn’t submitted to the DMV, the title won’t be changed. A car will not always show as “totaled,” “rebuilt,” “theft recovery,” etc.


There is No Database for Accident Reports

Carfax only knows if a car has been in an accident if an insurance company discloses the information. Thousands of accidents happen every day that never show up on Carfax reports. Even if an accident is reported, the extent of the damage will not be revealed.


Repairs are Not Reported

Carfax does not have a reporting mechanism that will tell you if the vehicle you’re thinking of buying has been repaired. Thousands of vehicle repairs every day, nationwide, and Carfax doesn’t know about them.


Information Isn’t Verified

Carfax simply reports information – it doesn’t verify it. Anyone can report an incorrect VIN or inaccurate mileage. Additionally, typos can deliver inaccurate information. Carfax is simply a database, and that means simply data in, data out.


Car Dealers Know That Carfax is Limited

Car dealers knowingly often buy vehicles that have been in accidents. But if the Carfax report comes back clean, they won’t reveal the extent of the damage.


Carfax Doesn’t Tell You About Ownership

Only the state of vehicle registration is in Carfax report. You’ll have to get in touch with the DMV to determine the previous owner.


Carfax Reports are Expensive

Carfax report cost pretty much. If you want a Carfax report, it will cost you $40. And you still won’t know who owned the vehicle before, if it was ever in an accident or totaled, how well it was maintained, or its current condition.


Carfax is Hard to Contact

If you want to complain, you’ll have to get in touch with them via email and wait for a response – you can’t phone them. Additionally, if you want to ask about, or dispute, something that’s in their database. You’re going to have to provide documentation, and that can be difficult and time-consuming.


The Carfax Disclaimer

People have often bought vehicles from dealers, or at physical or online auctions, that were supposed to be “clean” as far as Carfax was concerned. Then they ended up with problem vehicles. Carfax simply refers customers to their disclaimer.


The Final Word

Carfax claims to offer comprehensive information on used vehicles. And much of the time purchasers believe that a “clean” Carfax report means that they’re getting a good deal. This isn’t always the case.

A history report is a tool, like any other tool, and there’s always a limit to what it can do. Simply stated, a Carfax report isn’t always the best too. Although it can be a start if you’re thinking about buying a used vehicle or an auction vehicle. Just don’t let it replace common sense and an inspection where possible.

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