Ever wonder why Carfax seems to be the only company you ever hear about that offers vehicle history reports?

According to an Automotive News report, Carfax has created undeniable brand cachet, and it has also arranged some deals that make it difficult for the competition to gain footing. Marketing agreements, inked with sites like AutoTrader.com and Cars.com, mean that dealers who would like to advertise on these sites are forced to use Carfax instead of less expensive competitors. AutoCheck, from Experian Automotive Inc, provides a similar service, and Cars.com allows for the use of AutoCheck, causing a battle between it and Carfax. At the moment, Carfax has roughly 32,000 dealers, compared to AutoCheck's 12,000.

Those dealers using Carfax are paying much more than those using AutoCheck. Pressure from clever ad campaigns and slogans like "Show me the Carfax," lead customers to think that Carfax offers the only legitimate vehicle history report available. That said, other dealers contend that Carfax has far more comprehensive reports, and favorable in-dealership support.

According to Automotive News, there are ten vehicle history report providers, including Carfax and AutoCheck, but in a market where the only competition is a near-unknown, Carfax can afford to do business like it is the only show in town.


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  • 33 Comments
      mazdamattyp5
      • 2 Years Ago
      As a former dealership manager I can say, in all honesty, that CarFax is a scam. They are riddled with inaccurate information and mistakes. They have created an advertising campaign that makes dealers look like the bad guy if they don't buy their product. This is just not true. I personally used autoCheck and would have to explain to buyers how they both offer the same service but autoCheck has far fewer errors in reporting. Customers (as ignorant as they are ) don't realize this. They only see "if the dealer won't show you a CarFax they're hiding something". I worked very hard to be reputable and honest with everyone. To have a company like CarFax come in and undermine that is reprehensible.
        Doug Utz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @mazdamattyp5
        Completely agree. 13 years in the business now and I have seen so many inaccuracies with CarFax that it's not funny. We tend to find AutoCheck to be more accurate, but that's not to say they aren't without fault. Our store strongly encourages customers who are looking at a pre-owned vehicle to take it for a 3rd party inspection, no issues, no catches, as we won't put a car on our lot that we feel wouldn't past muster by someone else.
      BipDBo
      • 2 Years Ago
      It only works when the damage was reported. My last used car purchase had a clean carfax, but I later found that it had been in a major collision.
      loopless
      • 2 Years Ago
      After being rear-ended I had a $4500 repair ( on insurance) on my previous car, and just for my peace of mind when selling, I pulled the CARFAX on the car. Nothing on the report. CARFAX may be useful for ownership history but don't rely on it for listing any collision repairs.
      rem
      • 2 Years Ago
      All of these services are pretty obnoxious. All it takes is one technician making a transcription error on the odometer reading or vin number during a routine inspection, and suddenly a car is flagged as having inaccurate mileage. Of course their system is not setup to filter obviously erroneous inputs like these, and as the vehicle owner is not their customer, they have no effective system for remediation.
        PHDPHATMAN
        • 2 Years Ago
        @rem
        I’ll second that, as every vehicle I’ve owned (only buy new cars) has had an incorrect Carfax report when I sold them, and it has been virtually impossible to get the Carfax corrected.
      reattadudes
      • 2 Years Ago
      I sell parts for Buick Reattas. when I got started twelve years ago, I made it a point to run Carfax reports on every vehicle I purchased for parts. over 60% of the reports were unbelievably inaccurate. reports are only as accurate as the VIN numbers that are input, and whoever inputs the initial VIN information has seventeen chances to make a mistake. -I bought a car in the Napa Valley in California. the car had never left the state, and was sold new in Sacramento. Carfax showed the car being sold new in Connecticut, in a accident in Boston in 1992, and scrapped. -bought another 1990 convertible in New Jersey in 2004. this car was a total, yet to this day, Carfax does not reflect this. it does, however, show the fact that it was in a body shop in 2003. if you saw this entry, would you assume it had been in an accident? it wasn't. the car was merely being repainted, and Carfax pays shops $25 to report every time a car comes in for repairs. this of course, opens up another ugly door, and another chance for mistakes concerning odometer readings. you take your vehicle in for an oil change or an emission test. they lean in the car and misread the mileage, or think, "it can't be that low. I'll put a 1 in front of that". poof. you now have an odometer mileage discrepancy, and 200 flags come up on your Carfax, through no fault of your own. the only thing that changed is an idiot couldn't read, and now you'll be paying the price for that. and either you won't even know, or if you do, it will take an act of god for Carfax to change it for you. a friend bought a car with inaccurate odometer readings input by the repair shop the previous owner took the car to. it took over TWO YEARS for Carfax to correct the report, even with complete documentation. so many take a Carfax to be the ultimate truth, with zero chance for inaccuracy. I use it as mere entertainment, with an over 50% chance its less accurate than the National Inquirer. as for AutoCheck, it makes Carfax look 100% accurate. be smart. use your gut feeling, and skip expecting these reports to be accurate.
      SeanR
      • 2 Years Ago
      Carfax misses a few things, I use Autocheck at work more than Carfax because it seems to pick up more things. My dad just bought my little sister an 08 Altima Coupe yesterday and he showed me a clear carfax, when I went home I checked the Autocheck and it showed 1 accident. Thankfully it wasn't a major section of the car.
      jamiescale
      • 2 Years Ago
      Maybe I'm just ignorant about all this, but Carfax always struck me as a scam/ripoff as its only spitting back what people report to Carfax about the car... If no one reports an accident, claim, issue etc, Carfax has no idea...So, you're kinda at the mercy of that data, which, based on the below comments, seems to be inaccurate and/or severely lacking most of the time.
      John A.
      • 2 Years Ago
      There are many more problems with Carfax reports that Carfax does not disclose to their customers. http://www.usedcarinspections.org/carfax.htm.
      csrecord
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sometimes there is some good info and sometimes there's nothing which makes you wonder if the car was ever serviced. Like others have said, do not count on it to make a buying decision.
      Vinuuz
      • 2 Years Ago
      So easy to make a dodo out of yourself if you just rely on the carfax. To each his own!
      Cain Gray
      • 2 Years Ago
      CarFax has it's uses, but if you're buying a multi-owner car, it pointless.
        CJ_313
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Cain Gray
        One of its uses is to make sure you're not buying a multi-owner car...
      ststranger
      • 2 Years Ago
      MY brief time as a European "sales consultant" made me want to smack the taste out of the smug (usually old) person sitting across from me every time they demanded I "show them the carfox" after repeatedly explaining we only bought the finest at auction and use Autocheck which was more detailed, as others have said, and cheaper. "Yeeeah but I'd really rather just look at the carfax before I make a decision can you have it faxed over to me??"...Caaan you pay me $80 to make that happen?? Duche...
        Doug Utz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ststranger
        Based on that attitude, it's not much wonder why your time in the business was "brief". But it's tools like you that make the good and honorable in the business stand out from the norm. Thank you.
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