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Thread: Carfax and buying used

  1. #1
    Daine
    Guest

    Carfax and buying used

    OK, I am a bit of a new commer to the US used car market, at least sort of.
    I pretty much moved to Europe in 1985 so have had little contact with cars here since then and back then we didn't have stuff like CarFax, Edmund's, Ebay, CarMax, etc. The old fashioned Kelly Blue Book was about it.
    So the first question is how accurate and trust worthy is CarFax.
    Many dealers have a link to the free CarFax report on the net. Are those the complete reports? Can they be messed with? And just out of curiosity, how far back do they generally go in terms of model years?

    I went to a CarMax for the first time in my life today. Intresting place. Of course I think Saturday was not the best day to go but it seems like a reasonable place to get a reasonable deal on a used car. Not cheap, not over priced and my guess a pretty good bet for not getting a piece of junk.
    What I do sort of wonder about though... Besides the basic "Buyer Beware", what are the general thoughts of buying through Ebay?
    It seems that late model "typical" cars that get sold through E-bay go for about 5% to 20% less than say at CarMax.

    Daine

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Raleigh NC, USA
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    3,628

    Re: Carfax and buying used

    CarFax is very good, but don't put 100% of your trust in it. It's still possible to "wash" the title where a CarFax report won't pick it up. You should still inspect the vehicle, looking for the usual signs of it having been in an accident:
    • Paint overspray on the back edges of the body panels (if the hood had been repainted, you can usually run your hand down the underside of the edges and feel the roughness)
    • Tool marks on bolts that aren't used for routine maintenance
    • Use a magnet to detect areas suspected of being mostly body filler
    • Recent cars will have stickers on each body panel that have the VIN number on them (an anti-theft measure) -- make sure they all match.


    CarMax is pretty reputable. If you don't want the hassle of haggling down to the last dollar, they're a good choice.

    eBay has the problems of the vehicle not being exactly as described ("Perfect paint!" except for that orange peel respray problem...), and for desirable cars, outright fraud by the seller. Watch out for someone wanting to use a 3rd party escrow agency - it's usually a front by one of their buddies. Trust...But verify.

    Chip H.

    Former owner: 2012 Honda Civic LX, 2006 Honda Ridgeline RTL, 2000 Honda CR-V EX, 2003 MINI Cooper S, 1992 Honda Accord LX, 1999 Mercedes ML-320, 1995 VW Jetta GLX, 1991 Mercury Capri XR2, 1981 Mercury Zephyr, 1975 Chevrolet Impala

  3. #3
    Daine
    Guest

    Re: Carfax and buying used

    Quote Originally Posted by chiph
    It's still possible to "wash" the title where a CarFax report won't pick it up. You should still inspect the vehicle, looking for the usual signs of it having been in an accident:.....
    • Paint overspray.....
    • Tool marks.....
    • Use a magnet to detect areas suspected of being mostly body filler.....
    • Recent cars will have stickers on each body panel that have the VIN number......


    CarMax is pretty reputable......

    eBay ...SNIP...Trust...But verify.

    Chip H.
    That would all seem to be good advice and if I were to combine it, it would seem to confirm that CarMax is a good stable place to buy and I would venture to guess (hope) that reputable businesses don't generally "wash" the history of a car.

    Any experience with having a pre-buy inspection?
    In the past, I did everything myself but mid 70s and earlier were quite different. Cars today are so crammed together it seems like it would be tough to even look into a lot of spots so having an "expert" that knows a particular car check it out could be useful except that I am sure so many of those "experts" don't really look that carefully.
    Sort of like a house inspection, one good inspector can find all sorts of stuff while the next lazy one won't find anything.
    And I had no idea that recent cars had the VIN on everything. Makes sense but shows how far out of the "car" world I have been.

    Daine

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