Erroneous Carfax report?

As noted in this thread, we’re selling our old car. To be proactive, I pulled up its Carfax history report.

Which does not show the one significant accident the car was in - had both bumpers and a bit of the rear end replaced. But did show a completely different accident, 3 years later, in a part of the state where the car had never been.

Anyone know what if anything we can do about that erroneous report? I’ve emailed Carfax about it but don’t expect a response until tomorrow. There’s a police report number but I haven’t found a way of researching that - it’s listed in Pulaski County VA but I have no clue if the report is from the local PD (the sheriff’s webpage is very rudimentary), state police, etc.

Have you double checked the VIN on the car. It should be visible from the outside at the bottom of the windshield, probably on the driver’s side. Verify that to the title and the Carfax report.

Good suggestion, thanks; I was using the VIN from the current registration rather than transcribing what’s on the car itself. I ran out and checked on this when I saw your posting.

Fortunately (as it might make selling the car dicey from a legal perspective) the numbers match. Also the other info on the Carfax report (date of original registration, mileage) was reasonable.

You might try the Pulaski County Clerks office to see where accident reports are filed. There may be a central repository for the county. Anyway if you can find out where the records are you can get a copy for a fee, usually reasonable, maybe 5 to 20 bucks.

A quick update:

I emailed Carfax last week about the error and just got an email back from them - evidently there must have been an error, as the carfax report no longer shows any accident. I am impressed that they resolved it this quickly; their original email said they might take 4-6 weeks!

A. R. Cane - thanks for the suggestions. I had no luck finding anything helpful on the Pulaski County’s website and never got around to emailing them but I suppose that would have been my next step.

And a general caution on Carfax, I guess - since they were missing one known accident, and had one nonexistent accident, I’d have to take their info with a large grain of salt. Their mileage info was reasonable at least (if 2 years out of date).

I’ve always wondered about CARFAX: during hurrican katrina, 1000’s of cars were submerged in the floods. I have a friend in the used car business-and he says submerged cars have been showing up all over the country. He checked one such car-and it had a clean record! Supposedly, these cars are time boms-they have rust under carpets, in inacessible areas, and by the time you see the rust pits, its too late-the car will basically fall apart.

Yeah, I’ve heard that about flood-damaged cars.

The thing with those is: unless they were reported to insurance or something, how would Carfax even hear about them? In the case of the car your friend mentioned, did he have reason to believe it was formally recorded somewhere as flood-damaged?

In our situation, not only did they record a nonexistent accident, but they failed to list a known accident (back in 1998) that was reported to the police. In other words, the report was largely unreliable.

Sigh… this is, to me, a big argument for buying new when possible, even though the first owner of a car eats a huge depreciation amount. At least I know where the car has been.

With all of the CarFax hype being put out via commericals, a lot of people forget that it is only to be used for guidance when buying a car, another safety measure for both the consumer and dealer. They are by no means perfect. I see trade-ins on a weekly basis that have obviously been in an accident (paint work, ripples in the metal, etc.) but showed a perfectly clean CarFax. I have seen the opposite also. I just had a lady in here three days ago that showed two accidents two years apart and she swore up and down there was no accident on the car. When we checked for paint work, there was none.

We had a Porsche come in on trade about 6 months ago which had 13k miles on it (it was only two years old). When we pulled the CarFax on the car, it had a odometor rollback warning, showing that the car was recently in for service and had 120k miles on it before. The problem lies with the reporting of the car from body shops and dealers. One mistake on their part and you could have an error in the report.

CarFax has a buyback guarantee, but the fine print pretty much guarantees there will be no buyback on the contract.