Can CarFax Be Trusted and Reports Reliable?

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

Are you in the market for a used car? If so, you’ve probably heard of CarFax.

CarFax is a popular vehicle history report service that provides information on a vehicle’s maintenance history, accident reports, etc. But can CarFax be trusted?

Many car buyers rely on CarFax to make an informed decision about a used car purchase.

However, there are concerns about the accuracy and reliability of CarFax reports. Some buyers have reported missing or incorrect information, which can cause trouble. So, how can you trust CarFax?

Key Takeaways

  • CarFax is a popular vehicle history report service that provides information on a vehicle’s maintenance history, accident reports, etc.
  • While many car buyers rely on CarFax to make an informed decision about a used car purchase, there are concerns about the accuracy and reliability of CarFax reports.
  • Exploring the CarFax report, considering competitors and alternatives, and being aware of potential issues and problems is essential.

Can CarFax be trusted?

Trust and Accuracy

CarFax is one tool that can help you gain insight into a vehicle’s history, but how accurate and trustworthy is it?

100,000 sources

CarFax relies on information from over 100,000 sources, including DMVs, insurance companies, and auto repair facilities.

While this vast network can provide a comprehensive view of a vehicle’s history, it’s essential to remember that errors and omissions can occur.

CarFax acknowledges that not all accidents and incidents are reported to their sources, and some may not appear on a report.

Additionally, CarFax reports are only as accurate as the information provided by their sources.

However, CarFax is still considered reliable for obtaining information about a used vehicle’s history.

It’s essential to use CarFax reports as one of several tools in your research process and to review the report for any errors or omissions carefully.

While CarFax reports may have limitations, they can still provide valuable information about a vehicle’s history. I advise combining it with NADA-used car values reports.

Can CarFax Be Trusted and Reliable?

CarFax obtains information from various sources, such as insurance companies, auto auctions, and state motor vehicle departments.

However, CarFax’s reports are sometimes complete, and some critical information may need to be included. For example, if the previous owner did not report an accident to their insurance company, it may not appear on the CarFax report.

It’s also important to note that CarFax is not the only vehicle history report service available. Other options include AutoCheck, VINCheckPro, and a better option – the CarMax autos.

It may be worth comparing multiple reports to get a more comprehensive understanding of a vehicle’s history.

Ultimately, while CarFax can provide valuable information about a used car’s history, it’s essential to remember that the report may only tell part of the story.

Exploring the CarFax Report

CarFax reports can provide valuable information about a car’s history, including accident history, ownership history, and repair history.

CarFax obtains its information from various sources, including state DMVs, insurance companies, and auto auctions. This data is then compiled into a database that CarFax customers can access.

When you look at a CarFax report, you’ll see many details about the vehicle’s history. Here are some of the things you might find:

  • Accident history: The report will show any accidents the car has been involved in, the severity of the damage, and whether the airbags deployed.
  • Title information: The report will show the title status of the car, including whether it has a clean title or a salvage title.
  • Ownership history: The report will show how many owners the car has had and how long each owner has kept the car.
  • Manufacturer recalls: The report will show any recalls the car is subject to and whether those recalls have been addressed.

It’s essential to remember that a CarFax report does not guarantee a car’s condition. While the report can provide valuable information, it’s always a good idea to have a mechanic inspect the vehicle before you buy it.

Competitors and Alternatives


One of the most popular alternatives is AutoCheck, which provides almost the same data as CarFax but at a lower price. A single report costs only $24.99, and you can get 300 reports for only $99.99.


Another alternative is VINAudit, which provides vehicle history reports for a low price of $9.99. VINCheck is another option, offering free reports that include basic information such as make, model, and year.


Experian is another competitor that offers vehicle history reports. They provide a comprehensive report with information about accidents, title issues, and more. The report costs $24.99 for a single report or $44.99 for five pieces.


The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) is a government-run database that provides vehicle history reports.

The reports contain information from various sources, including state DMVs, salvage yards, and insurance companies.

Potential Issues and Concerns

One issue to be aware of is that a clean CarFax report may mean something other than a problem-free car.

Damage or be a lemon

A car can have prior damage or be a lemon, but it would not appear on the report if it were not reported to CarFax. So, having a trusted mechanic inspect any used car you consider purchasing is essential.


Another concern is the possibility of fraud. While CarFax does its best to ensure the accuracy of its reports, there have been instances of fraudulent activity.

For example, a seller may provide a fake CarFax report that shows a clean history, even though the car has a branded or salvage title.

Odometer rollbacks

Odometer rollbacks are another issue to be aware of. If a car’s mileage has been tampered with, it can make the vehicle appear in better condition than it is.

It is essential to check the car’s maintenance records and have a trusted mechanic inspect it.

No refunds

Finally, it is worth noting that CarFax only offers refunds if you are satisfied with the report. While CarFax provides valuable information, it does not guarantee a problem-free car.

It is essential to do your due diligence and thoroughly inspect any used car you are considering purchasing.

Additional Considerations

One thing to remember is that not all sources of information may be included in a CarFax report.

For example, some maintenance records may not be reported to CarFax, so asking the seller for any available maintenance records is essential.

CarFax may need to have information on vehicles that were sold at auctions or through private sales.

Another consideration is that CarFax relies on the accuracy of the information reported to them.

While they do their best to verify the information, there is always a chance that something may need to be noticed or inaccurately reported.

So, it’s wise to do your research and have the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic before making a purchase.

Flood damage

It’s also important to remember that CarFax reports may only sometimes include information about flood damage or other types of damage that may not appear on an odometer reading.

We advise you to inspect the vehicle thoroughly and take it for a test drive before purchasing.

Finally, it’s essential to be aware of potential scams in the automotive industry. Some sellers may try to use a fake CarFax report to make a vehicle seem more reliable than it is.

Making an Informed Decision

As a car buyer, you should always do your due diligence before purchasing a used car. It includes researching the car’s make and model, reading reviews from other owners, and having the vehicle inspected by a mechanic.

If you’re buying a used car from a private-party seller, asking questions about the car’s history is especially important. Ask for maintenance records, and find out if the car has ever been in an accident or had any major repairs.

When reviewing a CarFax report, consider any red flags such as accidents, salvage titles, or fleet use. Remember that the information may only include some of the car’s history, especially if it was not reported to CarFax.

Ultimately, purchasing a used car should be based on a combination of factors, including the car’s condition, price, and history.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Carfax a reliable source for vehicle history information?

Carfax is one of the most popular sources of vehicle history information, but its reliability could be better. While Carfax has access to a vast vehicle information database, it relies on data from various sources, including insurance companies, DMV records, and other third-party providers.

Therefore, the accuracy of the information in a Carfax report can depend on the quality of the data it receives.

How accurate is Carfax?

Carfax claims to provide accurate and comprehensive vehicle history reports, but it is not infallible. There have been instances where Carfax reports have missed or inaccurately reported information. Therefore, verifying the information in a Carfax report with other sources is always good.

What are some alternatives to Carfax for checking vehicle history?

AutoCheck is a popular alternative to Carfax, offering similar vehicle history reports. Other options include the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS), a government-run database that provides information on vehicle titles, brands, and odometer readings.

Does Carfax provide verified reviews for their reports?

Carfax does not provide verified reviews for its reports. However, there are many online forums and review sites where you can find feedback from other users who have used Carfax.

Are there any known instances of Carfax providing incorrect information?

There have been instances where Carfax reports have missed or inaccurately reported information. For example, Carfax may need access to all service records or accident reports or need to update information on a vehicle’s title status.

What should I do if I find an error on a Carfax report?

If you find an error on a Carfax report, you can contact Carfax to request a correction. Carfax has a process for correcting mistakes, and it will work with you to ensure that the information in your report is accurate.


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