I was a guest on the podcast by The Car Chick (which is all about car knowledge for women and smart men) recently where we talked about the lemon law, what it means, and more. You can find more podcasts and much more information at www.whoisthecarchick.com.
CarFax is the leading company in used car record tracking and is often publicized as a promotional tool to prove the soundness of a used vehicle. While CarFax claims to compile over 100,000 sources to document each car's history, you should consider it a tool rather than a final answer when you're in the process of buying a used vehicle.
CarFax compiles records from a wide range of sources that track Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN), odometer readings, and accidents among other statistics. That means you'll have access to some title transfers, odometer readings, reported accidents, and manufacturer recalls concerning the vehicle in question.
Do You Need More Information?
You should have any used vehicle inspected and driven by a trusted mechanic before you buy. It's also a good idea to have the seller provide you with a written statement outlining the condition of the car and detailing any damages it may have.
What Might be Missed?
A CarFax report is only as good as its sources, and therein lies the problem. If a vehicle was in an accident that wasn't reported to police, it won't show up. Furthermore, if it was reported and the police department doesn’t provide reports to Carfax, you won't get the accident information. If the vehicle was in an accident or flood and was repaired by a mechanic or body shop that doesn't report to CarFax, you won't learn that information. In addition, insurance companies do not provide reports to Carfax. These are only a few examples, so if you have a question about your vehicle's condition, ask.
Why Use CarFax if not All Information is Reported?
Although CarFax may not cover every angle of a vehicle history, it is a valuable tool when buying a used car. Here are some key benefits you'll find on a CarFax report:
What Can You do if You have an Issue?
CarFax guarantees a clean title on its report, but make sure you read the fine print. Register the car with CarFax if you buy it and be aware the guarantee is very specific.
If you suspect you've purchased a car that's been damaged without disclosure, it's important to get legal representation. Consumer laws are made to protect unsuspecting car buyers from fraud, and you may have a valid case.
It might start as soon as you click on the dealer’s website. I was working on a case the other day. I clicked on a dealer’s website. Up popped a dialog box.
“Hello, my name is Alexis. Have a question? I’m online.” Besides sounding like a 1-900 sex oriented ad, when I looked on the staff page, Alexis was no where to be found. I found the picture of the Internet Manager. “He” didn’t look anything like “Alexis’” picture. I felt like I was being “catfished”. What does that say about the ethics of a car dealer? Does it even make a difference to you?
In November, News2 investigated when customers said they were tricked into buying lemon cars. You can read the full story here.
When you are attempting to buy a car, remember to read the paperwork before you sign it. Even if you are in a rush, slow down and read what you are signing. The dealership’s paperwork is designed to help the dealership if you complain not you, and the Court might not help you if you don’t at least read what you are signing.
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