InvestigatorsMatter for Mallory


The error instantly reducing a used car’s value by thousands of dollars

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Posted at 6:00 AM, May 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-10 06:42:32-04

BALTIMORE — The used car market is hot right now, and if you’re looking to buy or sell, you’ll want to check the car’s history.

A Catonsville woman tried trading in her car but learned of an error impacting its value by thousands of dollars.

“My husband and I thought maybe this is a good time to trade in our 3-year-old car,” said Carolyn Moore, who is now on her ninth Subaru and looking to upgrade to her tenth. “We’ve taken really good care of it.”

But the dealership’s offer didn’t match what she was expecting.

“He said you didn’t tell me you had an accident, and we’re like, we didn’t. [He said] it was a disabling accident that required towing,” said Moore. “Racked our brain, I don’t remember everything, but I would’ve remembered that.”

The CARFAX report listed an accident on June 28, 2020, and the next day she had the car serviced.

“On the day after the so-called accident, they walked around and there was no damage. So, if it did just happen the day before, it wouldn’t have been repaired that fast,” Moore said.

She contacted CARFAX on March 9 to report the error. By April 4, she hadn’t heard back, so she contacted WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii.

“That same day I got a response,” said Moore.

The CARFAX resolution manager said an email mix-up caused the delay, but she had requested a copy of the accident report from Maryland State Police, which can typically take 4 to 6 weeks.

“And I said you won’t have an accident report,” Moore recalled.

On April 14, CARFAX confirmed the accident was an error and updated her vehicle history report.

“So we do we have data from over 131,000 sources. All of them are vetted, these are trusted sources, but mistakes do happen,” said Emilie Voss, director of public relations for CARFAX.

“When these data sources send in these reports to CARFAX, is there any kind of back and forth? Do they have to provide photos or any kind of evidence of this kind of damage?,” Sofastaii asked.

“We vet these data sources upfront and we know that these are reliable trusted sources and so when they do send the information in, it’s trusted information that we’re adding. Of course, we want the vehicle history report to be accurate, that is what our reputation, our company has been built on for the past 35-plus years and so accuracy matters to us as well,” Voss responded.

Voss said CARFAX manages over 28 billion records. Mistakes are rare and if there is one, they want to investigate and correct it. However, this can take time.

“If you are looking to sell a car and it’s going to hold up your sales process, I recommend just like you check your credit report, if you know in the coming weeks that you’re looking to maybe trade-in or sell a car, it’s a very rare situation there would be an error, but it’s worth just checking the CARFAX report ahead of time,” said Voss.

A single CARFAX report costs $40. An AutoCheck vehicle history report costs $25. A spokeswoman for AutoCheck also confirmed that there’s an accident reported on Moore’s vehicle for the same date.

By getting this error corrected, Moore’s trade-in value increased by more than $3,000.

According to CARFAX, an accident or damage event can impact a car’s value by $500 or around $2,100 for a severe accident.

CARFAX also has a history-based value tool you can check out or get your car appraised.

To get in touch with CARFAX about an issue on your vehicle history report, click here.