Thousands of dollars were at stake when a McKinney man asked the NBC 5 Responds team for help correcting his vehicle history report. The report showed damage that never happened – reducing the value on a vehicle he was trying to trade-in.
Read on to learn how he got a resolution.
“I couldn’t even give you $200 right now for the car”
After looking up the value of his 2019 Volkswagen Jetta, John Carr said he expected to get at least $16,000 for the car when he set out to trade it in. He said the first dealership couldn’t come close.
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“He said I couldn't even give you $200 right now for the car,” Carr recalled.
The dealership pointed to a CARFAX report for Carr’s vehicle showing it was a total loss.
“I mean, that floored me,” Carr said.
Carr bought the vehicle brand new. It had one owner – him. He said it’s never been in an accident.
Carr went to CARFAX with his vehicle maintenance records and a letter from his insurance company. CARFAX removed the total loss report and made two other corrections: removing a service contract that Carr didn’t have and correcting the mileage.
However, CARFAX wouldn’t budge on one of the reports – listing moderate to severe damage.
“The last e-mail I got from the gentleman I was dealing with at CARFAX said there is nothing more we can do,” Carr told NBC 5 Responds.
There was an August 3, 2020 date listed, but no other information.
“Can you tell me who reported this to you so I can pursue it from another angle? They wouldn't give me any information at all,” said Carr.
Some information is anonymous
CARFAX told NBC 5 Responds the damage report was verified and that it receives records from more than 113,000 data sources. Some do not authorize CARFAX to release their identities.
CARFAX also pointed out a letter from an insurance company wouldn’t prove there was no damage because some drivers may make repairs without filing an insurance claim.
“It's like you're guilty until proven innocent,” said Carr.
Carr also got a vehicle history report from AutoCheck, a part of Experian. That report listed damage dated August 7, 2020 – a few days later than the date listed on the CARFAX report. The AutoCheck report included a location: Scottsdale, Arizona.
Carr said, “This car has never been out of Texas.”
NBC 5 Responds checked with six law enforcement agencies in and near Scottsdale – along with the Arizona Department of Transportation. All told us there was no record of an accident associated with Carr’s VIN number.
NBC 5 Responds took that information to Experian. It said it was able to confirm the damage report was hail damage from earlier this year – which Carr didn’t dispute and had already repaired.
Experian said it would modify the AutoCheck record.
NBC 5 Responds went back to CARFAX with everything we learned. This time, CARFAX said the moderate to severe damage report should be removed.
“After thoroughly researching this issue and working with the customer to gather additional documentation, we verified the damage record should be removed from the CARFAX Report. We’ve updated the report and notified the customer of the change. We appreciate his help and working with us to resolve this issue,” CARFAX wrote in an email to NBC 5 Responds.
It was welcome news to Carr.
“I certainly will be forever grateful for you and NBC 5 that they have you guys working for the consumer,” said Carr.
NBC 5 Responds
Keep maintenance records, have cars inspected before buying
Carr’s story is a reminder to keep good vehicle maintenance records. If an error shows up on a vehicle history report, you’ll have the information handy to make corrections or show the records to a potential buyer.
If you’re shopping for a used car, Jon Linkov with Consumer Reports said don’t rely solely on a vehicle history report to make your decision.
“It's equivalent of a computer: garbage in, garbage out. If someone is putting in something wrong, that's what's going to be on the report,” explained Linkov.
Linkov said he recommends car buyers take the vehicle to an independent mechanic for an inspection.
“The mechanic may or may not endorse the car purchase, but they will at least tell you, I see this has been welded or this looks like it's been replaced,” Linkov said.
Linkov said you can also ask the vehicle owner for service records. Take the records and the VIN number to a dealership that sells that brand of vehicle and ask the service department to run service records to confirm the owner maintained the vehicle. You can ask the service department to block out the name of the owner if there’s a privacy concern.
You can find the 17-digit VIN on a small plaque on the lower-left corner of the dashboard – visible from the windshield on the driver’s side.
NBC 5 Responds is committed to researching your concerns and recovering your money. Our goal is to get you answers and, if possible, solutions and a resolution. Call us at 844-5RESPND (844-573-7763) or fill out our customer complaint form.