Carfax (company)

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Founded1984; 39 years ago (1984)
in Columbia, Missouri
FoundersRobert Daniel Clark
Ewin Barnett
United States
Area served
ProductsCARFAX Reports
ParentS&P Global
  • CARFAX Canada ULC
  • CARFAX Europe GmbH

CARFAX, Inc. is an American company that provides vehicle data to individuals and businesses. Its most well-known product is the CARFAX Vehicle History Report.[1] Their other products include vehicle listings, car valuation, and buying and maintenance advice.[2]


CARFAX was founded in Columbia, Missouri in 1984 by Ewin Barnett III and Robert Daniel Clark. In 1986, by working closely with the Missouri Automobile Dealers Association, the company offered an early version of the CARFAX vehicle history report to the dealer market. These reports were developed with a database of 10,000 records and distributed via fax. In December 1996, the company launched its website as part of an effort to sell its reports directly to consumers.

CARFAX has undergone several ownership changes since its founding. In the fall of 1999, Carfax became a wholly owned subsidiary of R.L. Polk & Company.[3] In 2013, IHS acquired Polk and CARFAX.[4] In March 2016, IHS had a merger of equals with Markit, becoming IHS Markit.[5] On February 28, 2022, S&P Global purchased IHS Markit, and CARFAX became a brand in the company's newly formed S&P Global Mobility business unit.[6][7]

Products and services[edit]

Vehicle history reports[edit]

The CARFAX Vehicle History Report is the company's best-known product. A CARFAX Report can provide information about the number of owners a used car has had, accidents it has been in, title issues, whether it was a fleet vehicle, and its maintenance record, among other aspects of its history.

Information sourcing[edit]

CARFAX claims to have access to over 30 billion records [8] from more than 131,000 sources, including motor vehicle departments for the 50 U.S. states and the 10 Canadian provinces. The company's information sources include U.S. state title and registration records, auto and salvage auctions, Canadian motor vehicle records, rental and fleet vehicle companies, consumer protection agencies, state inspection stations, extended warranty companies, insurance companies, fire and police departments, manufacturers, inspection companies, service and repair facilities, dealers and import/export companies.[9]

CARFAX lists only information that is reported to them. Hence, consumers should not take these reports to be an exhaustive accident history. Not all accidents are disclosed and CARFAX uses the language "no accidents have been reported to CARFAX," the emphasis being on "reported". Consumers should not rely on CARFAX alone when checking out a used vehicle.

Although CARFAX continuously expands its database and resources, some information is not allowed to be provided. Under the 1994 U.S. Drivers Privacy Protection Act, personal information such as names, telephone numbers and addresses of current or previous owners are neither collected nor reported.[10] CARFAX does not have access to every facility and mistakes are sometimes made by those who input data. In the event information is disputed but cannot be verified, CARFAX allows consumers and dealerships to add information to its reports.[11]

Legal disputes[edit]

West v. CARFAX[edit]

In a 2006 class action lawsuit, the plaintiff claimed that CARFAX violated consumer protection laws by not disclosing the limitations of their service, specifically their inability to check accident records in 23 states in the U.S. while stating that their database contains information from all 50 states.[12] The lawsuit was settled in May 2007 in the Trumbull County Common Pleas Court in Warren, Ohio.[13][14] The company asserts that it has major accident information from all 50 states and it backs up its claim with a buyback guarantee. The settlement in the West v. CARFAX, Inc lawsuit was overturned, not on the merits of the issue, but on the terms of the settlement which did not offer enough to the affected consumers and because "not enough consumers were notified and the judge should not have agreed to the settlement without knowing more about what it would cost CARFAX."[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "How To Read Accident Information On A Carfax Vehicle History Report". J.D. Power. Retrieved 2022-10-16.
  2. ^ "CARFAX™ - Shop, Buy, Own, & Sell Used Cars". carfax. Retrieved 2022-10-16.
  3. ^ Town and Country Auto Sales website Archived December 27, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Polk Automotive Has Been Acquired". IHS Markit. 2019-10-29. Retrieved 2021-04-18.
  5. ^ CNBC (2016-03-21). "IHS to buy data provider Markit". CNBC. Retrieved 2017-04-19.
  6. ^ "S&P Global to buy IHS Markit in $44bn deal". Financial Times. 2020-11-30. Retrieved 2022-09-22.
  7. ^ Hoffman, Cara Lombardo And Liz (2020-11-30). "S&P Global Agrees to Buy IHS Markit for About $44 Billion". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2022-09-22.
  8. ^ Basso, Chris. CARFAX {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ "Where Does CARFAX Get its Vehicle History Data?". CARFAX.
  10. ^ "Drivers Privacy Protection Act". accessreports.
  11. ^ "ABC7 News - KGO Bay Area and San Francisco News". ABC7 San Francisco.
  12. ^ "West v. Carfax, Inc. and Polk Carfax, Inc. - Public Citizen". citizen.
  13. ^ Jensen, Christopher (6 May 2007). "It's the Truth, but Not the Whole Truth" – via NYTimes.
  14. ^ "Deal in Carfax lawsuit draws fire - The Boston Globe". boston.
  15. ^ Jensen, Christopher (31 December 2009). "Carfax Settlement Is Overturned".

External links[edit]