SPECIAL REPORT: Carfax or Fiction - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

SPECIAL REPORT: Carfax or Fiction

(WTVM) -

Getting a Carfax report may not always protect you from buying a lemon, but there are steps to get the best car possible.

ABC News has been doing investigative reports showing how Carfax reports are giving people a false sense of security.

Many people buy used cars just as long as the Carfax is clean, but a consumer can't stop there or he or she could end up in danger.

That's what happened to Tonja Burke.

"At any time the tires could come off or the motor could come off the car," said Burke. 

A mechanic told her that after she bought a used car with a clean Carfax.

Burke's car had a rusted and bent frame that was patched up and she said her motor was smashed in too.

"They said the car had definitely been wrecked prior to me purchasing it and it was around $1,000 worth of work that needed to be done on the car to fix that problem," Burke said.

The owner of A&J Paint and Body Works, Amos Powell, said Burke's car should have never been sold and her family was in extreme danger driving it off the lot.

So why isn't this type of information on a Carfax?

"You have a lot of people who want to repair the car out of pocket instead of going to the insurance company and once they do that that's not reported to Carfax," Powell said.

Powell said after a person receives a Carfax take the vehicle to a trusted mechanic.

"Any dealership should give you a day or two to have the car checked out and they should have no problem with that if they do nine times out of ten they are trying to hide something," Powell commented.

As the mechanic checks it, look for clues that the car could be a bad buy.

"Make sure the body lines meet with each other even when you close the doors make sure the doors close properly," Powell said. 

Also look for bowed tires because if the alignment isn't correct he explained something is way off.

He said a car with a bent frame could have been in a wreck and that can cause another accident.

Have the mechanic check under the hood as well for any kind of leaks or oil stains.

Oil over the engine will let you know there was some type of mechanical problem.

Check belts and make sure they are not old.

Some dealerships use the fact people don't know Carfax reports may not have the total history, but responsible ones double check their vehicles.

"Even if it says it's a clean title and a clean Carfax we run it through service and get service to inspect it and do a 140 point inspection to make sure we catch stuff that Carfax doesn't have," said James Stallworth with Headquarter Nissan.

Carfax said it's no secret that their reports don't list the whole history.

In an email sent to WTVM from the company Carfax stated there's a disclaimer on every report stating reports are based only on information supplied to the company.

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