How to Navigate the Carfax

March 7, 2018
How to Navigate the Carfax

Buying a car is stressful, or rather, it can be a stressful process. There’s a lot to consider when buying a car. Year, make, model, et cetera. Buying a used car unveils a whole ‘nother level of stress because not only do you have the actual car to consider, you now have to take into account the car’s history. Where has the car lived? How many miles are on it? How many owners has it had? What service has been done to the car? Are service records available? And then, of course, has it been in any accidents?

More often than not, the first move people make is checking out the car’s Carfax report. No one can deny the relief upon seeing that the car has no accident history reported. The operative word being, “reported.” One may wonder, How reliable are these reports? Maybe you don’t wonder at all, and swear by what you see in front of you.

We asked Adam Merlin, the owner at Merlin Auto Group, his take on Carfax reports and what he looks for. “Carfax is a resource and a tool that gives information, but like anything else, it needs to be verified. The car needs to be inspected by somebody who knows what they are looking for.”

It is always good to consider the information offered by these reports, but what is reported is not always accurate. What do we mean by that? Well, the reports can sometimes be incorrect in terms of the severity of a certain accident–in other words, the extent of the accident can sometimes be inaccurately reported. “Buying a car is a big deal, so people want to make sure they’re getting exactly what they’re paying for. Often what we see is people rely too heavily on the Carfax, instead of investigating further and looking at the car as a separate entity. We believe people need to let the car stand on its own two feet (or four wheels…you get the idea). It could turn out to be a fantastic car that gets overlooked because it was either incorrectly reported and unjustifiably passed over.”

What’s the most important thing Adam looks for in any vehicle’s history report? “Any valuable information as far as the story of the car goes. That usually consists of service history, where the car lived for most of its life (climates/areas of the country), so I can positively or negatively vet the car.” The Carfax, along with any other report on a car’s history is valuable and, of course, essential to the car-buying process. It is important, however, to investigate the car’s life beyond what you see on the Carfax. To use it as a guide, but not necessarily the Gospel.


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