Carfax can be a good source of information but should not be the consumer's only source

Carfax Carfox / Should CARFAX Reports Always Be Trusted?
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Updated: February 27, 2017

If you've ever purchased or looked into purchasing a used car, chances are you've either seen or at least heard of CARFAX, a service that provides historical information on used vehicles.

But just how reliable is the information that CARFAX reports provide?

CARFAX Sources

If a VIN is plugged into the CARFAX database, the report will display information about vehicle ownership, accident history, mileage discrepancies, lemon status, flood damage, fleet use, and a number of other issues related to the vehicle in question.

You may be wondering how CARFAX gets its information. After all, it maintains a system of more than 6 billion vehicle records.

CARFAX relies on a number of sources to get information, including:

  • Motor vehicle bureaus across the U.S. and in Canada
  • Insurance companies
  • Auto auctions
  • Car dealers
  • Repair and service facilities
  • Rental companies
  • State inspection stations
  • Fire departments
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Car manufacturers
  • And many others.

In 2010, CARFAX relied on more than 34,000 vehicle information sources.

A Good Starting Place

Despite this number of resources, however, CARFAX reports are not always reliable. Because CARFAX relies on information that is reported to the company, anything not reported cannot be included in reports. A vehicle can be involved in an accident that results in extensive bodywork but show through CARFAX as having a clean accident record. It all boils down to what information has been reported.

According to many experts, while CARFAX is a great place to start researching a vehicle's history, there are other options to consider. For example, test driving a vehicle and taking it to a trusted mechanic before making any commitments are two great ideas. In fact, most reputable mechanics can thoroughly look over a vehicle and tell if it has ever been in an accident, damaged by flood waters, etc.

If you are searching the market for a used vehicle, be sure to do your homework and rely on more than just a CARFAX report before making any final decisions. You will be glad you did in the long run.