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Carfax bill defeated by 2 votes

November 18, 2010

Illinois’ state and metro dealer associations hope Carfax officials will confer with them over dealer objections to the company accessing the state’s vehicle accident reports, after Carfax’s third failure in four spring sessions in Springfield to secure the data. 

State senators on March 2 killed the latest attempt by Carfax for access to the notoriously inaccurate accident records maintained the Illinois Department of Transportation. Carfax’s heavy lobbying helped to sway 28 senators to the company’s side, but Senate Bill 1839 needed 30 supporters to pass.


According to IDOT, about half of the state’s vehicle accidents are not even reported. In other states where Carfax can review such data, the company admits to discarding more than 40 percent of the reports because of defects in the data. 

Nevertheless, Carfax does not guarantee the accuracy of information in the vehicle reports it sells, usually for $20 each. That is one of several sticking points for the Chicago Automobile Trade Association and the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association, which united to rally senators against SB1839.


"The CATA," said association Chairman Terry D’Arcy, "is on record with its dealer members urging the use of vehicle history reports when selling a used car. But if this flawed accident information is added to the vehicle history company database, we’d be forced to reconsider that advice." 

Methods to collect vehicle accident information in Illinois are ripe for error, and IDOT reported that the costs would be "substantial" to create a system to verify the accuracy of data.


The CATA has sought dialogue with Carfax officials for more than 18 months. Officers of the CATA also plan to meet with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune. On March 1, the day before the Senate vote, the newspaper wrote an editorial supporting the legislation. The editorial suggested that all information—even inaccurate information—is good.