SGI says be wary of CarFax and CarProof crash records

A CBC iTeam investigation reveals shortcomings with a company that does searches on histories of used cars.

Crown has no contract with either company

An iTeam investigation reveals shortcomings with a company that does accident record searches on used vehicles. (CBC)

A CBC iTeam investigation reveals that CarFax, a company that does checks on the history of used cars, is missing critical information in some of its searches.

Used car shoppers frequently pay a fee to CarFax to find the history of a vehicle before closing the deal. The key to the searches is the "vehicle identification number" — called a VIN — which is stamped on every vehicle in plain view.

CBC News recorded these ID numbers from nine vehicles in Saskatchewan. A CarFax report came up with no record of any accidents. But a similar search by another company, CarProof, uncovered multiple crash reports on five of the same vehicles.

In fact, one of the cars had damage totalling $23,000. CarFax would not tell CBC what databases it uses to compile its reports.

SGI distances itself from both companies

SGI said neither company has access to Saskatchewan crash records. 

Both companies said they manually go on to SGI's website to find that information. 

Kelley Brinkworth is with SGI.  She said people should start with SGI's web search first.

"Even if you don't know where the vehicle is from, it's there for you. It's free," she said.

It's $10 dollars to do a cross-Canada search. The Saskatchewan Automobile Dealers' Association said it pays to check multiple sources. 

And in the end, it also advised that a mechanic check a vehicle before you buy.

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