Friday, June 15, 2012

Ask to Keep the Carfax

I’m sure you’ve seen the ads: “Ask for the Carfax.” The American car buyer is well trained to ask for the Carfax. However, the American car buyer does not know what they are looking for, what a Carfax is supposed to look like, and, most importantly, that they should ask for a copy of the Carfax to keep.

I had a customer today who bought a car last month and came to regret it and wanted to trade it in. In the course of the appraisal, my manager told me that the car had a bad Carfax because it had an accident in its history.

When I brought the customer the bad news that she was going to get $4000 less for the car than she paid for it last month, I asked her if she knew about the accident. “Accident?” she said, “they showed me a Carfax that said it was clean and had been driven by an old woman in Florida. First, Carfax doesn’t tell you anything other than the state it was registered in, and, second, her car had three previous owners, one of whom had crashed it.

Unsurprisingly, the dealer who showed the fraudulent Carfax would not let her keep it. This makes sense, since showing a fake Carfax would be fraud, and given the size of the purchase, would probably be felony fraud.

When we sell a car, we include the Carfax when we deliver the car, whether the customer asks for it or not. Our cars are all clean, and we like to show it off. If a dealer won’t let you keep the Carfax, what are they hiding? Why wouldn’t they let you keep it?

Many dealers, are quite legit and above board, playing by the rules and honestly presenting their product. Unfortunately, some are not. Do not enter into the car buying process adversarially. That just causes stress for everyone, but do be sure to ask for whatever information you would like to reassure yourself that you are being treated right.

If something seems amiss, feel free to drop me a line. I’d be happy to give you my take on the situation. If you tell them that you need to check something out, and they try to pressure you to buy right away, don’t. After all, if they can sell it to you today, why couldn’t they sell it to you tomorrow. What don’t they want you to know?

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