Buyers Beware When it Comes to Used Car Records

Buying a used car means you never actually know what you're getting.

A Reseda man says that can be true even if the dealer shows you a vehicle history report.

"I've always wanted one," Mike Ramia says of his Bentley. "It's a nice luxury car, convertible."

Ramia spent more than $102,000 on his dream car -- a 2007 used Bentley he purchased at Keyes European Mercedes-Benz in Van Nuys in November 2013.

The Carfax history report was 100 percent clean, Ramia says, showing the car had not been involved in any collisions.

In November 2015, Ramia tried to trade in the car and learned something new.

"Found out that it had an accident back in April 2013," he said. That was five months before he bought the car.

Carfax had not reported the crash until July 2014, eight months after he purchased the Bentley.

Clarence Ditlow is a car safety advocate for the Center for Auto Safety, an organization founded in 1970. He says luxury or not, Ramia’s situation is a lesson for everyone: a Carfax report could contain none or only part of a vehicle's history.

"A consumer can't rely on carfax for accurate information," Ditlow says.

He's pushing for legislation to provide transparency on used car sales so none are sold with hidden damages. In the meantime, he has some advice.

"Before you buy a used car, take it to your own mechanic, have it inspected and they can spot a problem that's not on Carfax."

The NBC4 I-Team reached out to Carfax regarding delays in its reports.

In an emailed statement, Carfax responded saying they have no specific timelines for reporting: "When information is reported to Carfax from our data sources we add it to the Carfax report as quickly as possible."

Carfax, a private company which collects information from auto shops and dealers and sells vehicle history reports, says its vehicle database consists of more than 15 billion records including partnerships with dealerships, insurance companies, service shops and other resources, but legally there is no obligation for anyone to report anything to Carfax.

Contact Us