Carfax, trusted resource or fraud?

We’ve all heard the ads, “ask for your free Carfax report.” When purchasing a vehicle, we’re trained to ask for the Carfax report for piece of mind in a used vehicle purchase.
However after reading many online complaints of vehicle owners, whose vehicles were fine, yet when they tried to sell, the report stated an accident, inaccurate miles, etc that was not the case. A misprint of miles was corrected with the DMV, so the vehicle’s title was no longer mistakenly marked “Not Actual Miles” yet Carfax would not change the report.
Certainly the frustration of car owners is understandable when they know the history on their vehicles, and then, suddenly their vehicle can’t be sold for their asking price with this negative report.
Imagine fixing the paint for a scratch that occurred when your kid scraped their scooter against it in the narrow space of the driveway. You take your car in to have the paint fixed, go to sell the car and Carfax reports this incident as an accident. Truth is, online there are many stories like this.
On the otherhand there are many people who purchase and feel confident when it reads, “no accidents/ airbag deployment/ odometer rollback/ etc reported.” Yet the keyword is “reported.” In many cases owners have reported that it was a clear report when they purchased, yet a few months later, a previous accident was finally reported, too late for the car purchaser. Carfax has not been big brother looking at every little use of your car, and updating its report immediately. While they rely on third party sources for information that comprises their reports, there can be damage that never makes its way into the Carfax report.
So what are your alternatives when you are shopping for a vehicle to still have the peace of mind that your vehicle does not have: structural/frame damage, total loss, odometer rollback, etc?
While there are other sites similar to Carfax available to check vehicle history, they have the same pitfalls as the industry leader. Your best alternative is to bring along your most mechanical and car savvy friend. With a trained eye, somebody who has worked in a body shop or as a mechanic can see the signs that body work has been done or a part has been repainted, that the rest of us may miss. Their expertise can enlighten you if this was a quality repair or if you shouldn’t trust it as dependable.
Unfortunately, in this .com world, we look for online solutions to tangible items that we have to make important decisions about. While the insight about your vehicle from Carfax may give you piece of mind, understanding how many owners had the car prior to you, and if it were for rental or personal use, this information is not bomb-proof. Look at this information and have the discriminating eye of a mechanic for a better piece of mind.
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