7 On Your Side

7 On Your Side helps East Bay couple with Carfax error

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A lot of used car buyers are turning to Carfax to find out about the vehicle's history of accidents and repairs. But how reliable is it?

One East Bay couple got stung by a big mistake on their report. They'd never had a single problem with their car until they saw the Carfax report. It gave them shocking news about the car they'd been driving for years.

Helen Chan and her husband are quite happy with the Lexus SUV they bought used four years ago.

"It was in excellent condition, uh, no dents," she said.

It's been running perfectly all these years and it looks, well, almost like new.

"One time that I bumped into a pole myself and caused a dent," Helen said.

So it came as a shock when a car dealer told Helen her reliable family vehicle was once a total wreck.

"He circled right there and said this is a totaled car," she said. "Wow, that was a total surprise."

It happened when the couple went to trade in their Lexus for a new car. The dealer looked up the Carfax report, which shows a car's history. It said their Lexus was declared a "total loss" back in 2005 when the car was brand new. That would mean it rolled out of the factory, got wrecked, and then was rebuilt. Helen says that's impossible.

"We took the car in for regular maintenance and nobody said anything about the car being totaled," she said.

The couple hoped to get nine or ten thousand dollars for their Lexus. But because of that report, the dealer would not let them trade in the car at all.

"They just said I can't take the car and that was the end of it," she said.

Not for Helen. She took the car to a body shop. To her relief, a technician found there was no prior body repair. He said they were all original parts with factory stickers still intact. So it could not have been totaled.

Also, if a car is salvaged, it must be reported to the DMV. And there was no such report.

Helen contacted Carfax.

"Hey you guys made an error," she said. "I told them please remove the total loss information but they refused to do that."

Carfax said an insurance company reported the total loss. In an email to the couple, a Carfax manager said, "Unfortunately, because the record has been verified to be correct with the source of the record, I cannot remove the record from the CARFAX report."

Helen had enough. She contacted 7 On Your Side. We contacted Carfax and the company researched the case. Sure enough, it found the report was wrong. Carfax removed this "total loss" blemish, and replaced it with "no accident or damage"

In a statement Carfax said, "The record was reported to us erroneously and when we researched it we found the error and updated it. We work with every customer when an issue comes up with a piece of data. We're happy to work with any customer who has concerns."

"What a relief," Helen said.

Carfax tells us it makes every effort to correct mistakes on its reports. In spite of what happened in Helen's case, the company says it takes an average of just one day to remove errors.

If you have a Carfax problem, contact me by clicking here.

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Tags:
hercules, driving, 7 on your side, michael finney
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