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What is the Difference between Accident and Damage on CARFAX

What can a CARFAX report tell you about a vehicle?

A CARFAX report is a detailed and comprehensive list of a carís history. The details are gleaned from hundreds of thousands of state bureaus, car insurance providers, and repair companies. The CARFAX report puts all of this publicly-available information together to build an overview report of a vehicle.

The most common use of a CARFAX report is for used car buyers to double-check the history of any vehicle they plan to buy. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process and helps you gauge whether the seller is telling you the truth about the vehicle and its history.


The recording of accidents

A car can be listed as having been involved in an accident on a CARFAX report. This can be anything from a scratched wing mirror to a total write-off from a collision. Most of the time, the accident is reported to CARFAX when the owner makes a claim on their insurance, but there are other ways an accident can appear on a CARFAX report, such as police reports.

A CARFAX report might list a car as having no accidents reports and no damage reported. This essentially means CARFAX has no record of there being an accident. Still, this doesnít mean an accident didnít happen that just wasnít reported to the police, so you still need to be wary when buying a used car.

Damage severity

CARFAX reports donít just state that thereís been an accident, though. They also include a damage severity scale and graphics about the type and scale of the damage caused to the car. Accident damage can be specified as being minor damage, major damage, or structural damage.

Even structural damage may not be of huge concern though, as CARFAX defines even small dings of less than one inch to be considered structural damage, even if itís only on inner wheel housings or rocker panels.

Should I buy a car that lists accident damage on a CARFAX report?

The truth is that cars are often involved in small accidents. Around 40% of vehicles in the CARFAX database have some kind of accident damage records, according to the company. And at least 5% of vehicles have had their airbag deployed at least once.

Each case must be considered on its own merits. As advised, CARFAX has quite a broad definition of what entails structural damage, so donít dismiss a car outright if you see it on a report. Check the details, and you might find the vehicle only sustained a small amount of damage thatís since been repaired in full.

Itís important to look at the full details of every car you plan to buy. Understanding that vehicles that have an accident listed on their CARFAX report typically go for around 10-20% less than their clean counterparts can make buying a vehicle thatís had minor dings in the past to be a smart move, saving you thousands of dollars even though the vehicle has been completely repaired.

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