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4 Major Problems You Didn't Know About The Carfax Buyback Guarantee

4 Major Problems With The Carfax Buyback Guarantee

What Is The Carfax Buyback Guarantee

Essentially, if you run a Carfax Report before buying a car and that report shows the vehicle’s title was never branded but later find out that it was, Carfax will buy the vehicle back at the sale price.

But Will They?

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Pros and Cons of the Carfax Guarantee

ProsCons
Provides some protection against unreported branded titlesVery limited in scope, does not cover unreported damage
Gives confidence in aspects like odometer readingsMany restrictions make qualifying for buyback difficult
Well-known, decades-old vehicle history providerPast complaints about denial of valid claims
Incomplete data since Carfax depends on voluntary reporting
No guarantee vehicle is accident-free
Pros and Cons of the Carfax Guarantee

How the Carfax buyback guarantee works:

  • The guarantee only applies if you purchase a Carfax report on a used vehicle before buying it.
  • It must be the current owner who purchased the report – not a previous owner.
  • If a qualifying title brand is later found that was not disclosed in the report, Carfax may repurchase the vehicle at the original purchase price.
  • Qualifying title brands include: Salvage, Junk, Rebuilt, Flood, Lemon/Manufacturer Buyback, Not Actual Mileage, or Exceeds Mechanical Limits.
  • The guarantee has many other restrictions and exclusions that can disqualify a claim. It does not cover unreported accidents, damage, or mechanical defects.

Consumer Experiences with the Carfax Guarantee

I researched numerous comments on forums like Reddit and review sites like Trust Pilot to give you an idea what real people have reported about their experience using the Carfax Guarentee. Here is a table displaying their outcomes:

Positive OutcomesNegative Outcomes
Successfully used when flood damage not reportedDenied claims for unreported accidents
Difficult getting Carfax to review claims
Found frame damage despite clean report
Dealers still sell cars with known unreported issues
Consumer reviews of the Carfax Guarantee

Carfax Buyback Guarantee Problems

For starters, I am going to assume that, like me, you probably thought the Buyback guarantee covered anything significant that wasn’t disclosed, similar to eBay. Sure, a fender bender isn’t worth a buyback, but the front end being replaced would be, right?

You might be interested in: Carfax Vs. Autocheck.

Not at all, and not even close. The sad part is that by the time we are done with this article, you will have the mindset that you will never, ever, ever have a reasonable chance to be protected by this “guarantee”. So let’s get to it…

How To Avoid Problems With The Carfax Guarantee

1. Who bought the Carfax Matters?

-“The Report must have been run prior to the date the Vehicle was purchased by the Claimant”-

To some, the language here seems to suggest that you, as the buyer, must be the party that actually ran the Carfax Report.

However, many others read the terms and say that the language is merely referring to you as the buyer of the car.

Who bought the Carfax Matters?
Who bought the Carfax Matters?

In my industry opinion, I think it’s likely that it’s permissible for only the dealer to run a report. If it were not, it would seem to make no sense to have dealerships be Carfax Dealers.

2. Pay attention to the date of the Carfax

-“No more than 30 days prior to the purchase.” –

It’s not uncommon for a used car to sit on a lot for more than 30 days, and as a former dealer myself, it just would never cross my mind to run a fresh report on a vehicle that has just been sitting on the lot.

It is also not uncommon for a car dealer to be struck but not actually documented as a sale until a week or two later for a wide variety of reasons.

Again, this is not something where I think, “Gotta run another Carfax report.” That being said, it’s still always good to ask the dealer to run a fresh report, and that was my advice before researching this topic.

It would be a good idea to read our guide on How to read a Carfax!

Bonus Tip:

Another reason you want to run a fresh report is that there are some dealers/sellers out there who will go to the auction and run a Carfax before the auction house has the opportunity to report- “Sold at auction”. 

Why do they do this?

Auction cars just are not as valuable when compared with a vehicle that was traded into the dealership or purchased from a private seller.

Why are vehicles purchased from the auction considered to be less valuable?

Dealer auctions are essentially where dealers go when they can’t sell a car.  We know they want to right?  But for whatever reason, they have come to the conclusion it isn’t going to happen for them.  Do you want a vehicle that someone couldn’t sell?

3. Should You Know If A Vehicle Title Was Branded?

-“If, before purchasing the Vehicle, the Claimant knew, or should have known, of the existence of a Branded Title for the Vehicle,

CARFAX reserves the right to reject the Claim.”-

It seems a bit suggestive. How do you prove or disprove that someone “Should” have known something when the report you run that is supposed to tell you didn’t tell you?

My assumption here is that this is a clause designed to prevent fraud from people who are good at twisting disclaimer word games, but it sure as heck doesn’t mean it can’t be used against an honest mistake, so be careful.

What is a Branded Title:

A Branded Title is simply a permanent designation given to a vehicle that has been written off as a total loss by an insurance agency due to severe damage such as:

  • Collision
  • Fire
  • Flood
  • Of if it was sold as scrap

4. What We Don’t Know At Carfax Won’t Hurt Us!

-“The Branded Title must have been issued by a motor vehicle agency from which CARFAX receives and loads data about Branded Titles in regular monthly transmissions.”-

This is a perfect example of why we recommend people use these reports merely as guides.

Vehicle history reports simply don’t tell you everything!

These reports can only tell you what they know, which is what has been reported to them.

Sometimes even the companies Carfax partners with won’t report everything, a perfect example being some service departments in car dealerships.

So, as crappy as you may consider Carfax for being on this one, I actually must side with them that they can’t be held responsible for not knowing something that wasn’t provided to them. That being said, where I do agree Carfax is wrong is in the difference between their marketing and reality.

You can’t get people to assume you have access to some massive database where anything that happens to a car will be on your $44.99 report, then when the poop hits the fan, you hide behind a clause that admits that you only know what people bother to tell you.

This also shouldn’t be #6 in the buyback clauses, it should be front and center on page #1 of the Carfax homepage, but that is very wishful thinking on my part.

Carfax Buyback Guarantee Conclusions

What I pulled away from researching the Carfax Buyback Guarantee is that it’s not something I would bet on ever getting paid out on.

IN FACT- It’s yet another reason why you must always get any used vehicle inspected by a qualified vehicle inspector!

This is something we simply can’t stress enough- Everything you have at your fingertips to buy a used car is simply a guide and or a tool, with some guides/tools being more reliable than others.

When pricing a car it IS possible to spend too much time researching and not just moving forward with a purchase, but when it comes to a vehicle’s history, quality, and level of safety for you and your family, no such limit exists in my opinion.

This is why if you EVER have any questions about the safety and security of a vehicle you comment here or contact us via our homepage, social, or chat feature.

You and your family’s safety is of the utmost importance to the autohitch family and whatever we can do to help… Consider it done!

Thank you as always for finding us and taking the time to learn more with us about the car buying and selling process. Until next time, yours truly…

“Hitch”- (Steve)

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Steve Momot - Author

Steve Momot - Author

Steve, a seasoned expert in the automotive industry, formerly held a car dealer license in Florida. With extensive experience spanning across car trading and mechanical work, he founded Autohitch. His mission? To guide both buyers and sellers through the intricate maze of car purchasing, ensuring a seamless and informed experience. Outside of the automotive world, Steve has a passion for fishing and capturing the beauty of nature through photography.

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