Can I Trust CARFAX Values?

The time has come to part ways with your car and start looking for a new one. You want to get a fair deal on selling or trading in your old one, but how can you know what a fair value for your used car would be? And how can you feel confident negotiating a price for a new car? An internet search can provide you with multiple used car valuation systems. CARFAX claims to provide you with the most accurate estimate. Let’s take a look at what sets CARFAX apart from other used car valuation sites.

What is a VIN?

Before we can understand how CARFAX determines values for cars, we need to understand VINs. Every vehicle made after 1981 is assigned a Vehicle Identification Number, also called a VIN. This VIN, made up of a 17-character combination of letters and numbers, is unique to each car and is used to distinguish it from other cars. When a car is in a reported accident, the VIN is given to insurance companies. If a car is stolen, the VIN can help identify a specific vehicle. Whenever a car is sold, inspected, flooded, has a rebuilt or restored title, or more, the Motor Vehicle Records database holds onto that information by VIN.

What makes CARFAX values different?

Many of the car valuation systems you can find online ask you to enter basic information about your car (like make, model, and year). CARFAX goes beyond the basics and uses a car’s VIN to make its value estimation as accurate as possible.

Two vehicles of the same make, model, and year would not have the same value if one was regularly maintained and serviced while the other was in a major accident and rarely brought in for maintenance. CARFAX uses all the details it has gathered from hundreds of thousands of sources on each vehicle to determine a comprehensive valuation of every unique car.

When should I use CARFAX values?

When you are selling a car, trading it in, or buying a used car, a CARFAX value can help you ensure no one takes advantage of you (by not paying you enough for your car or charging you too much for your next vehicle). Looking up the CARFAX values before you negotiate prices in any car-related scenario can help you be confident in your transaction.

Where does CARFAX get their information?

CARFAX reports are compilations of information from repair and service facilities, motor vehicle records in Canada and America, state inspection stations, auto dealerships, law enforcement agencies, vehicle manufacturers, auto auctions, rental companies, and fire departments. These places voluntarily give CARFAX the information they gather on vehicles that come through them.

What else can CARFAX tell me?

In addition to the free valuation reports that CARFAX provides for used cars, CARFAX offers full reports on vehicles to help paint a complete picture of their life. These reports show things such as ownership changes, accidents, flood damage, failed emission tests, maintenance and service records, and even lemon status. CARFAX reports are one of the most expensive options for vehicle reports, but they are the most user-friendly and comprehensive ones, too. They organize information in an intuitive format. CARFAX reports can be a useful tool when deciding whether or not to buy a specific used car.

Is CARFAX perfect?

Unfortunately, CARFAX is only as good as the information reported to it. If someone accidentally types a mistake into a car’s report, that will be there until caught and corrected by someone else. CARFAX reports also only have reported information, so if a vehicle was in a minor accident that was not reported, the report and valuation would not reflect that incident. Information in CARFAX reports is not updated in real-time, either. It may take a few business days for the information to be updated to a CARFAX report.

Although CARFAX is not perfect, it is an excellent starting point to determine the value of the used car you are wanting to sell, trade-in, or buy, and it will give you the most accurate information because it takes the whole history into account when calculating the value.

If you would like help determining the value of your car or if you are in the market for a new-to-you used car, let us help you at TJ Chapman Auto. Stop by our car dealership in the Salt Lake City area, or if you’re out of town, check out our website for an outstanding deal on one of our meticulously rebuilt branded title cars.