Tips, Tricks & Trends

The Worst Things on a Carfax Report You Never Want to See

Buying a used car is the best option for many people. New cars are great because they come with warranties, have that new car smell, and typically come with fewer problems, but the car payment may be more than many consumers are willing to invest. If you’re looking at used vehicles, checking the CarFax report will save you a lot of heartache.

But only if you know what you’re reading. According to Reader’s Digest, there are several red flags that you need to walk away from a used vehicle, and here are three.

Salvage titles

A vehicle with a salvage title essentially means that it was in a wreck, and the insurance company decided the repairs would cost more than the vehicle is worth.

So how did you end up checking out a car that looks fine but has a salvage title? According to the DMV, the insurance company declares it a total loss, and immediately turns around and sells it to a repair shop. Once it’s been repaired, it is sold for a cheap price. 

The DMV states that buying a salvaged vehicle may be an excellent option for some consumers if they can’t afford anything else, but it does come with risks. If you are able to discover what happened to the vehicle, such as the body was damaged rather than the transmission, it may not be a bad move to purchase one. 

Finding out what the damage was isn’t always possible, however. If you do decide to go down this road, have a mechanic check it out, and ask the insurance company that totaled it for details. 

Also understand that you probably won’t find anyone willing to finance the car, and reselling it will prove very difficult. If you’re determined to find a cheap used vehicle, buying one that’s been salvaged should probably be your last resort.

How many owners are on the Carfax report?

When a car has been passed around, it’s hard to keep track of whether the maintenance has been kept up with. It’s very easy for someone to say that all six previous owners kept the oil changed, but how would they actually know? 

The big question you should ask yourself is why the vehicle has been traded off six times, especially if the current owner is pressuring you to purchase. 

According to AutoTrader, a used vehicle with one owner is probably your safest bet, especially if it’s someone who is responsible and takes care of their vehicle. 

Some of the negatives with having multiple drivers range from lack of maintenance to different driving styles. 

Unfortunately finding a used vehicle with only one owner may be harder than you think. If you find a vehicle you like with multiple owners, be sure to have a trusted mechanic check it out before signing on the dotted line.

They may not be able to tell you if the tires have been rotated on schedule, but they’ll be able to tell you if the motor has been destroyed due to lack of maintenance.

Do the odometer readings on the Carfax make sense?

While you may think that it’s impossible for someone to roll back an odometer in this modern era of computers, it’s actually rather simple. What’s not always simple is figuring out if someone has done this.

While rolling back the odometer is illegal and will cost the person who did it, it will cost you as well if you buy it.

According to CarFax, you’ll have to report the proper mileage to your insurance company, which can result in a higher premium for you. It could result in a cancellation of your insurance in a worst-case scenario. You’ll also have to report it to your financier, which means you could be stuck paying a higher interest rate. 

Reader Digest reports that one way you can figure this out is by comparing the mileage your CarFax reports states the vehicle should have, and what the mileage on the odometer actually reads.

Another tool you can check out is an Odometer Fraud Check with CarFax. You simply enter the car’s seventeen digit VIN number and the area code where it’s being sold. If someone has reported the vehicle, you’ll know right away. If anything looks odd, walk away and report the vehicle.