One man said Carfax and Autocheck.com both reported his car was damaged, costing him thousands of dollars in value.
But his car was never damaged or in a crash.
It was Christmas 2018 when Phil Amalfitano surprised his wife with a brand new 2019 Lexus IS-300.
"She loves the car!" he said. "She says she loves the interior."
Amalfitano said the only downside is the cost of filling the tank with premium gas, and when his wife changed jobs recently, her commute got longer.
"It’s costing us over $400 a month alone (in gas)," he said.
To save money, Amalfitano wanted to trade it in for a Tesla. He said he went to CarMax and Tesla dealerships for estimates.
"They only offered us $22,000 for the vehicle, and Tesla offered us $27,000," he said.
The Kelly Blue Book trade value of the car is listed at between $31,000 and $34,000.
He wanted to know what the reason was for the lower estimates.
"They came back to us and said we would have offered you more money but because of the accident on the history of the vehicle, we can only offer you x amount of dollars," he said.
Amalfitano said the car has never been damaged or in an accident.
Regardless, there it was on the Carfax report: damage was reported in April of 2019 to the front passengers' side. Autocheck had reported the same.
"They said the accident happened in Harbor City, California, which my wife and I didn’t even know where Harbor City was," Amalfitano said.
Neither Carfax nor Autocheck, a company owned by Experian, would share who reported the car as having been damaged or who paid for the fix, but initially both asserted their information was correct.
Amalfitano took his car back to Lexus, and staff ordered an inspection.
Premier coach auto collision reports: "there are no visual signs of the vehicle having been repaired…we cannot see any damage based solely on the panels visible."
A DMV report on the car also shows no accidents. The NBCLA I-Team submitted the information to Autocheck/Experian and Carfax.
After a short review, Autocheck changed its report. In an email to NBCLA, it rewards: "Upon further research and with the additional information provided…we will modify the record within Autocheck."
Amalfitano car now shows no damage on the Autocheck site. Carfax initially would not budge. In an email, the company acknowledges there was no accident but there was a damage report. Carfax never cited a source for its report but says, "it is possible that one mechanic might find damage where another does not."
Carfax eventually agreed to pay for its own technician to inspect the vehicle.
"So far I have not been able to find anything to indicate that it’s been in an accident or that it has replaced panels," Josh Salazar of True Frame said.
Salazar said all VIN stickers match, the paint all over matches, and all gaps between panels, the hood and doors are correct.
Carfax changed its report to reflect no accidents or damage to the car, saying, "We did escalate this case to the highest levels of our organization and worked to resolve the issue as quickly as possible."
But it wasn't fast enough for Amalfitano, who says fighting to get the erroneous reports corrected cost him time and money.
"When a mistake of this magnitude happens, you’re costing families financial stress. You’re costing families unneeded stress to try and clear this up," Amalfitano said.
Correcting the vehicle history will restore between $10,000-$12,000 in value to Amalfitano's car.
This story serves as a reminder to keep accurate records of even basic maintenance on your vehicle; that way if something has been misreported about its history, you have records to back you up.
Carfax says that for every 10,000 reports they receive, six are updated or corrected based on information from consumers.
You can dispute their vehicle history by contacting the Carfax product support team here.
If you have a consumer problem you can’t resolve, submit your information at this form.