The average used car costs nearly $20,000, according to Edmunds.com. If you’re a buyer, you want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
The News 4 I-Team found that vehicle history reports like CARFAX won’t always tell you what you want to know---for example, whether the car has ever been in an accident.
A News 4 I-Team producer was sent car shopping with Justin Holder, a car customer.
News 4 recorded everything on an iPhone camera.
Holder and the News 4 producer looked at a 2017 Lexus SUV with a sales price of about $78,000.
The salesman said the vehicle’s CARFAX report showed it had a clean title and had never been in a wreck.
"It's got a clean CARFAX. No accidents," the salesman said.
News 4 asked if they could take the Lexus to a shop to have it checked out.
"If you want to take it for an inspection, you can," the salesman said.
When they brought the Lexus to a local body shop, the shop owner immediately spotted indications that several sections of the SUV had been painted, like the back lift gate, for example.
"And the front bumper’s been done, too," the body shop owner said.
News 4 agreed not to use his name; he’s been in business for 35 years.
"This side's been done, too," he said, showing that the paint resembled an orange peel's bumpy texture, rather than a banana skin's smooth texture.
So how did the Lexus have a clean CARFAX report? That's where you have to be careful.
Companies like CARFAX get their information from police reports, insurance companies, repair shops and other sources.
But not every wreck is reported to police or to an insurance company.
"Minor fender benders and such, people just fix themselves instead of turning them into their insurance," the body shop owner told News 4. "They pay for it out of pocket, not turning it into insurance. So nobody knows."
News 4 went to the car dealership and pointed out the painted areas to the salesman. He didn’t know they were recording with their iPhone.