LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney James A Johnson | Apr 23, 2010

Buying a used car based upon CARFAX history

Question: A couple of years ago I bought a truck from a dealership. Recently the A/C went out so I took my truck to a mechanic to have it fixed. My mechanic called & asked me if I knew my truck had been wrecked. The dealership didn't tell me it had been wrecked and the CARFAX was clean. How can they sell me a car thath's been wrecked without telling me? And why didn't the CARFAX say that the truck had been wrecked?

Answer: The law does not require used car dealers to disclose problems with the cars they sell. The dealer cannot be expected to know the detailed history of every car on their lot because many of the cars they sell come from auctions. However, if a dealer does know about a problem with a vehicle and you specifically ask about it, they cannot lie to you. As far as CARFAX goes, the information on their website states:

CARFAX does not have the complete history of every vehicle. A CARFAX Vehicle History Report is based only on information supplied to CARFAX. Other information about the vehicle, including problems, may not have been reported to CARFAX. Use a Vehicle History Report as one important tool, along with a vehicle inspection and test drive, to make a better decision about a used car.

Do CARFAX Vehicle History Reports have information about accidents?

Yes. If an accident has been reported to CARFAX it will be included in the CARFAX Vehicle History Report…. However, we do not have all accidents as many have never been reported, or may only have been reported to a source to which CARFAX does not have access. We recommend that any car be inspected by a qualified mechanic prior to purchase to make sure the vehicle is functioning properly and check for signs of unreported damage.

When buying a used car remember -- BUYER BEWARE. The most important advice I can give you is the same advice that CARFAX suggests which is “… we recommend that any car be inspected by a qualified mechanic prior to purchase to make sure the vehicle is functioning properly and check for signs of unreported damage."

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