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Carfax continues battle to access IDOT accident report records

November 18, 2010

Carfax has intensified its pursuit of the notoriously inaccurate accident records maintained by the Illinois Department of Transportation. A vote to pass Senate Bill 1839 to the House chamber could be imminent. 

With the help of lobbyists Jim Fletcher, deputy governor to then-Gov. James R. Thompson; and Mike Kasper, former lawyer for House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), Carfax has enlisted 13 state senators as sponsors of SB1839. Illinois has 59 state senators.


Carfax and AutoCheck, two major companies that sell vehicle history reports, would benefit from the sale of more reports if Illinois accident histories are added to their reports—even though the transportation department’s information is wrong at least half the time. 

Carfax officials have declined numerous CATA entreaties to discuss the association’s concerns.


Dealers are urged to contact their state senators and representatives to derail the Carfax bill. Carfax refuses to warrant its reports or indemnify dealers for mistakes already in its databases, and the addition of erroneous Illinois Department of Transportation records would compound Carfax inaccuracies. Dealers and consumers must be protected from the inaccurate and incomplete IDOT records. 

IDOT reported that the fiscal impact on the department of passing the legislation "would be substantial, in that a system would need to be created to verify the correctness of (any) VIN submitted to IDOT," according to Illinois General Assembly notes about the bill.


A VIN entered wrongly on an accident report or transposed later by a typist would assign any damage to a different vehicle. But equally troubling about IDOT records is the fact that police who complete the accident reports are not experts in assessing damages. Accident reports merely indicate whether damages exceed a $500 threshold, but do not distinguish the type of damage or vandalism that could affect resale value. 

Illinois Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), one of the bill’s sponsors, has dismissed the prospect of errors, saying that even if some mistakes are made on accident records, more consumers would be helped than hurt.


To be sure, Carfax would not be hurt; the company does not guarantee the accuracy of its reports, which it sells for about $20 each.