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Understanding a CARFAX report

Understanding a CARFAX report

Total loss:

When an insurance or fleet company determines that a vehicle has incurred damages exceeding around 75% of its pre-damage value, or if the vehicle is stolen and not recovered, it is declared a total loss. It's important to note that the specific damage threshold may vary among different companies. However, not all total loss vehicles necessarily result in a DMV-reported branded title, such as a Salvage or Junk title.

Accident damage:

There are several events that may suggest previous accidents or damage in a vehicle's history. These events include salvage auction, fire damage, police-reported accident, crash test vehicle, damage disclosure, records from collision repair facilities, and records from automotive recyclers. It is important to consider these factors when assessing the history of a vehicle.


If a vehicle has been repurchased by the manufacturer, a DMV or state agency may issue an official document or Manufacturer Buyback/Lemon title. It's important to note that not all states issue manufacturer buyback titles, and the requirements for a lemon law vehicle can vary from state to state.

Odometer check:

CARFAX analyzes mileage data to detect possible:

  1. Rollbacks: Odometer tampering intended to hide the actual mileage of a vehicle (e.g., fraudulent or illegal activity).
  2. Rollovers: Instances where the odometer restarts from zero after reaching its maximum reading (e.g., due to mechanical or equipment limitations).
  3. Inconsistencies: Conflicting mileage data that prevents CARFAX from determining if there is a potential rollback (e.g., potential human error).
  • By examining these factors, CARFAX aims to provide a comprehensive assessment of a vehicle's mileage history and alert potential buyers to any suspicious activity or discrepancies.

Manufacturer buy-back:

A Manufacturer Buyback, also known as a Lemon, refers to a vehicle that has been repurchased by the manufacturer from the owner. This is usually done as a gesture of goodwill or to address a specific defect in order to ensure customer satisfaction. Manufacturer Buybacks typically come with the remaining factory warranty and, in some cases, an extended warranty covering the repaired issue.

Dispelling Myths about Manufacturer Buybacks:

MYTH 1: All buybacks have defects.

FACT: Buybacks are often initiated to maintain a positive customer relationship, rather than solely due to a defect.

MYTH 2: Purchasing a buyback means inheriting someone else's problems.

FACT: By law, the manufacturer is obligated to fully address and correct any issues before reselling a buyback vehicle. Each Manufacturer Buyback vehicle undergoes a thorough inspection to ensure that the original problem has been resolved and the vehicle is in excellent condition prior to resale.

MYTH 3: Reselling a vehicle with a lemon law title is challenging.

FACT: The value of a vehicle is determined by its legal title. A lemon law title can result in a discounted price at the time of purchase, and it may also provide an advantage to the buyer during resale or trade-in negotiations.

Airbag deployment:

When a crash or other incident occurs, the deployment of the driver, passenger, or side airbag indicates that it has been utilized. In such cases, it is necessary to have a qualified technician replace the deployed airbag.

Basic warranty:

New vehicles typically come with a manufacturer's basic warranty, which varies in duration and mileage coverage among different manufacturers.

Structural damage:

Any level of accident, whether minor or severe, can potentially result in structural damage to a vehicle, including damage to the frame or unibody. This indicates that the car has been involved in a previous accident and has sustained damage at some point. It is important to note that there is no differentiation made between a minor dent and a major accident in terms of assessing structural damage. With the construction of unibody vehicles, even minor damage such as a small dent measuring 1/8 inch to 1 inch in the body or structure, as well as more significant damage, can be considered as contributing to structural damage.

*** CARFAX does not inspect any vehicle they report on. Please note that a CARFAX report can change after your date of purchase. To ensure peace of mind we recommend getting the car inspected by a third party. Carfax is a third party vehicle history reporting company, not affiliated with Indy Auto Man. Indy Auto Man does not endorse Carfax, and disclaims any and all liability for any damage, economic or otherwise, which may result from the use or reliance on the information contained in the Carfax History Reports.