Mistakes on vehicle history reports can cost owners thousands

Mandy Hess says that when she decided to buy her SUV several years ago, she had piece of mind that it had never been in a wreck. That’s what it said on the Autocheck vehicle history report the car dealer provided to her. (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) -- Mandy Hess says that when she decided to buy her SUV several years ago, she had peace of mind that it had never been in a wreck. That’s what it said on the Autocheck vehicle history report the car dealer provided to her.

“We thought, ‘We're good,’" she said.

But when Mandy went to trade the car in three years later at another dealership she got a surprise.

“They said, ‘Did you know there's been an accident on the vehicle?’” Mandy said. “We thought, ‘No. There's no way.’"

Sure enough, according to a Carfax report shows, her SUV had been in a wreck in September of 2013, long before Mandy bought the vehicle. It’s a wreck that is clearly missing from the original Autocheck report, as well as a subsequent Autocheck report that she pulled after discovering the wreck.

Instantly, Mandy’s car lost thousands of dollars in resell value.

A spokesperson for Autocheck declined to discuss Mandy’s issues on camera, but in a statement wrote that it receives its accident data from government sources and independent agencies and that whoever reported the accident to Carfax "did not report it to us."

Consumer Reports Auto Writer Mike Quincy was not surprised when Get Gephardt told him about Mandy’s plight.

"They're not always 100% accurate,” he said of vehicle history reports.

Quincy says there are lots of reasons a car repair wouldn’t show up on a vehicle history report - for example, if someone gets in a small wreck and does the repair themselves in an effort to leave insurance out of it. He also notes that not all mechanics and body shops report repairs they make and that even those that do are subject to human errors.

“Honestly, it's only as accurate as the person keying in the information in their databases and electronic forms."

To protect themselves when buying a used car, Quincy says consumers should always take the vehicle to their mechanic and have it inspected.

Autocheck agrees, stating, "It has long been our philosophy that vehicle history reports should only be one step in the pre-owned vehicle purchasing process."

It's advice that's too late for Mandy. She is now stuck with a vehicle she'd rather not have, but missing the trade in value she needs to get another one.

The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System endorses several vehicle history report companies, including Autocheck – but also emphasizes that one is not endorsed higher than another. Get Gephardt found that the price can vary wildly of the NMVTIS endorsed companies.


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