Chances are you’ve seen a CARFAX commercial on TV or heard one on the radio telling you not to take a risk buying a used car without first checking the CARFAX report. CARFAX does a fantastic job of marketing itself to consumers as the report you can trust to find out whether the car you’re thinking about buying is a lemon or has ever been in an accident. With slogans like Be Smart… Be sure, they imply that their reports will remove all of the risk and unknowns when buying a used car.
The truth is, CARFAX reports are only as good as their data sources which are not all inclusive of every incident and issue that you’d like to know about. According to their website, they obtain information from over 92,000 data sources including state DMV’s, repair facilities, insurance companies, warranty companies, police departments, and auctions, etc.
What they don’t tell you in their commercials is that not all accidents will show up in a CARFAX report. However, if you visit their website and read the fine print, there’s a disclaimer that says “ the report is only based on the information supplied to CARFAX, other information including problems, may not have been reported to CARFAX, use this report as a tool along with an inspection and test drive…”
There’s a plethora of scenarios where an accident may not show up in a CARFAX report when you’re ready to buy a car. The most common situation is when the police aren’t called to write an accident report or the police department doesn’t have a computerized record system that CARFAX can access. Very often there’s a time delay before the accident gets reported to CARFAX. Plenty of unsuspecting people have purchased a used vehicle thinking they bought a clean car, when in reality it was involved in a serious accident that they found out about later on when it did finally show up in the report. In other instances, accidents may never get reported to anyone; or repairs could be made by the owner or at a repair facility that doesn’t report to CARFAX.
Your Vehicle’s Accident History will Cost You Money
Regardless of whether your vehicle’s accident shows up in a CARFAX report or not, when you go to trade it in, the dealer will most likely find out about the accident damage and it will cost you money out of your pocket, this is known as diminished value. Dealers have a trained eye and can usually spot previous repair work. In addition, they have special gauges that can measure the thickness of your paint and can tell the difference between a factory painted panel and a repainted panel from a body shop.
Your vehicle’s accident history is now going to cost you money when you go to sell or trade it, but there’s something you can do about it. If another driver was at-fault for your accident, you can file a diminished value claim with their insurance company, but you’ll need help proving it. DVCHECK is a nationwide provider of diminished value appraisal reports that will help you document, demand, negotiate, and recover your car’s diminished value after a car accident.