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Carfax accident report bill still kicking in Springfield

November 18, 2010

For the third spring session in four years, state legislators will consider a bill that would make available in electronic form any accident reports related to a vehicle offered for sale in Illinois. If the measure becomes law, companies that sell vehicle history reports would add such information to their reports, which would harm the values of used vehicles, including customer trade-ins.


Carfax remains the impetus behind the measure. The Fairfax, Va., company wants access to the admittedly inaccurate records maintained by the Illinois Department of Transportation.


As part of its latest push, Carfax has established the Used-Car Buyers Right-to-Know Coalition, and a Web site, The coalition includesCarfax and a hodgepodge of unrelated entities such as the Illinois Coaches Association and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights.


Detractors of the legislation, Senate Bill 1839, have cited several problems, notably the imprecision of Transportation Department records and the fact that Carfaxdoes not guarantee the accuracy of any accident information in its history reports.


It is vital for all Illinois dealers to contact their state senators, to derail SB 1839 in the senate chamber. To identify a senator, see the Web site of the Illinois State Board of Elections at Searches to identify senators can be conducted by name or by the constituent’s district number or street address.


Inaccuracies related to accident reports are common. Police officers who complete the reports rarely are expert at determining the extent of damage or the costs to correct the damage. Also, a VIN entered wrongly on the report or transposed later by a typist would assign any damage to a different vehicle.


The Carfax Web site states "An error made at the data source may appear on the Carfax Report," and "we will not know about an error until it is brought to our attention." Carfax itself reportedly discards more than 40 percent of the accident reports it reviews in other states because of inaccuracies in the transcripts.


Still, prosecuting attorneys in other states already point to Carfax reports as containing definitive information.


A dealer who sells a used vehicle without disclosing prior damage—known or unknown—can face demands of a refund by the purchaser or a lawsuit.