I have been looking for a good car for my wife for the past six months since we are expecting our first child this December. Being our first child, the car must be safe. Once we found the perfect match of a smaller-sized SUV with very low miles, and a price that seemed too good to be true, I contacted the owner who said that the car was in perfect condition. The car looked great on the outside and the guy selling it seemed very knowledgeable. When I started the car up, he turned the cold air on high to show me that it worked and that it had good power even with the air on that strong. The car seemed to drive very well.
We pulled back to where we met, and I was ready to buy. With a baby on the way, I decided to not take any chances and got my first ever CARFAX report. Since the guy didn’t have one on hand, I went online with my phone. The CARFAX report instantly came back showing the car was “Salvaged” with “severe damage”. When I asked the guy about this, he told me that the car was listed as “Salvaged” because it had been stolen at one point, but that was it. He then went on to say that it had also been keyed very bad, so he replaced the entire front right panel, which is why the paint seemed a bit newer in that area. This didn’t make sense, so I needed another look. Now, I could actually see where the front panel had been replaced, which I had not noticed before.
The Carfax report remained in my thoughts, so I needed to really check out the car and asked to drive it again. I turned off the air and got my first sign. Without the noise of the air conditioning, I could hear a slight noise coming from underneath the car when I turned. It was so subtle that it could barely be heard, but it was there with every turn. I told the guy that since it was for my wife and baby on the way, I had to be comfortable with the purchase and wanted to take it to a mechanic. He recommended the mechanic/bodyshop a block away, which turned out to be his son’s shop. His son said that it just needed new tires, but other than that, the car was great. He told me that he was the one that had worked on the car, but his story was slightly different that what his dad had told me. The son’s version was that the car had been slightly hit on the side, but it wasn’t too bad and that is why the panel had to be replaced.
With the conflicting father/son stories, I needed to go to a neutral source and new mechanic. The new mechanic took a look and found where the axel was slightly bent (causing all of the noise I heard earlier) and the front (from where it had been “slightly hit” or “keyed” on the side) was not structurally sound. The car was, as the new mechanic put it, a “potential death trap” which I had nearly bought for my pregnant wife. Without the CARFAX, I would have made the purchase. Getting the CARFAX report was the best thing that I could have done and I will forever be grateful. I am still looking for that right car and will always get a CARFAX from now on.