Edmunds Answers

Voted Best Answer

  • avatar morin2 11/13/11 11:35 am PST

    You have to treat the carfax report as a major red flag. Minor accidents (and in my experience, many major ones) are not reported to carfax. But that does not mean that carfax is worthless - far from it.

    Ask to see the title. When a car is totalled, the insurance company pays it off and the car is auctioned for salvage or scrap. Some of these cars are then rebuilt using cheap or used parts. Most, but not all, states require such rebuilt wrecks to have a title "branded" as "salvage". But some states do not have that requirement and dishonest sellers can "wash" a title by transferring it through such states. So a title branded "salvage" = rebuilt wreck, but a seemingly clean title doesn't necessarily mean its clean.

    The beauty of carfax is that the report follows the VIN forever and cannot be laundered. The carfax may also show the paper trail across state lines. But, because so few accidents are reported to carfax, there is no substitute for a thorough pre-purchase inspection by a mechanic for any used car.


Answers

  • morin2 11/12/11 9:57 pm PST

    You shouldn't have to be a detective to get the information. Honest sellers with nothing to hide will provide at least the work order and receipts, if not before & after photos. If the seller is not forthcoming with the information, you have to assume the worst - rebuilt wreck, and run from that car.

    I have traded in cars that were repaired after serious accidents and provided the dealers with photos and papers. They appreciated the honesty. In both cases, those accidents never even appeared on carfax.

  • markjett 11/12/11 10:36 pm PST

    try calling carfaq customer service, or a dealership can find out for ya

  • texases 11/12/11 10:50 pm PST

    If any problem shows up on Carfax, I just forget about that car. There are others without accidents, and there's no way to know if any story you get is the truth.

  • morin2 11/13/11 11:35 am PST

    You have to treat the carfax report as a major red flag. Minor accidents (and in my experience, many major ones) are not reported to carfax. But that does not mean that carfax is worthless - far from it.

    Ask to see the title. When a car is totalled, the insurance company pays it off and the car is auctioned for salvage or scrap. Some of these cars are then rebuilt using cheap or used parts. Most, but not all, states require such rebuilt wrecks to have a title "branded" as "salvage". But some states do not have that requirement and dishonest sellers can "wash" a title by transferring it through such states. So a title branded "salvage" = rebuilt wreck, but a seemingly clean title doesn't necessarily mean its clean.

    The beauty of carfax is that the report follows the VIN forever and cannot be laundered. The carfax may also show the paper trail across state lines. But, because so few accidents are reported to carfax, there is no substitute for a thorough pre-purchase inspection by a mechanic for any used car.


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