Carfax has a very unique business model.  Tell the consumer they need to ask for a “free” Carfax report from their dealer (who then pays a hefty fee).  The exclusivity contracts with Cars.com and Autotrader helps keep would be competitors at bay.  i.e. Autocheck.

While Autocheck is up to one third the price of Carfax, with virtually the same data, it does not hold the same clout with consumers that Carfax has.  The worst part is that we, the dealers help perpetuate this condition by providing Carfax (who is owned by Polk by the way) with our service data.  I too am guilty of this practice.  As we continue to provide Carfax with vehicle service histories without charging them at the same time as we allow them to sell the data back to us at higher and higher rates.  

Carfax seems to feel they are irreplaceable and non-negotiable.  I am surprised to hear our rep put the Carfax brand ahead of their data quality and quantity when justifying the April 1st price increases.  In fact the data is what we all count on and pay for to protect ourselves and our consumers from damaged goods.

I am curious as to what the dealer body thinks of this situation. Do you freely give them access to your service data?  Are you able to negotiate their monthly fee?  What have you found about their attitude and values?  Is this part of a bigger trend toward Polk owning all automotive related data?  How do customers respond to dealers using just Autocheck?  Does the dealer body have any leverage to protect ourselves from the ubiquity of Carfax and their ability to extract money from us?

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Tags: autocheck, cafax, cars, certified, extortion, marketing, monopoly, used


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Comment by Jay Prassel on March 4, 2012 at 4:58pm

Carfax and Autocheck are NOT approved vendors for NMVTIS.  They are also not approved in California after July 1, 2012 under the new law.

Comment by Adam Barish on March 4, 2012 at 4:41pm

I looked at this site again.  It doesn't appear to offer free reports, only a backround of the gov't database and links to approved vendors.  Conpicuously absent is Carfax and Autocheck.

Comment by Harry Douglas on March 4, 2012 at 4:25pm

The United States Government offers the same info as CarFax and AutoCheck offers for no fee. Folks are a real sucker for slick marketing. Check it out: www.vehiclehistory.gov

Comment by Jay Prassel on March 4, 2012 at 11:02am

For those who don't want to set up an account for the 5 Free VIN's, here's a link that costs only $3.99 for a NMVTIS Vehicle History Report:


Comment by Jay Prassel on March 4, 2012 at 9:31am

VinAudit, I've set it up so you can try 5 VIN's for FREE, click here. Scroll down to the Dealer Account Setup Form.

Comment by David Blassingame on March 4, 2012 at 9:22am

The members of this site continue to share valuable information, like the National Vehicle Title Information website.

Thanks to all that contribute.



Comment by Thomas A. Kelly on March 3, 2012 at 6:12pm

@ Marsh...When Carfax sold the dealers out as you say, the game changed for me....when a vendor plays to the consumer and then turns to the dealer for their paycheck, I have a real problem. Providing AutoCheck reports instead of Carfax has not been a problem. I suspect AutoCheck loves it when Carfax does a big spend as they get a boost too.

Comment by John Wolf on March 3, 2012 at 3:26pm

Extensive marketing efforts have branded CarFax just as Kleenex is to tissue. The key with our customers receiving an AutoCheck with every vehicle listed on our website is that we always try to work with "the glass is half full not half empty" thought and offer a vehicle history with every vehicle. If receiving an AutoCheck is an issue, we run a CarFax and satisfy the customer.

Comment by Jason Buchanan on March 3, 2012 at 3:23pm
Over the years, their pricing has eased due to competitors already listed within the comments here, but someone is still paying for their NASCAR racing team. Someone being mostly dealers.
Comment by Mark Dubis on March 3, 2012 at 2:51pm

CARFAX doesn’t have a monopoly but a strong network and marketing program that has helped them dominate the market.  While you may not like their pricing or elements of their reports they have done a great job of helping dealers establish credibility with their customers. 


Believe it or not some dealers weren’t honest when telling customers about the history of a vehicle. When technology allowed a simple way to check this, companies started offering the proof that a vehicle was not a salvage, damaged, flood, or rental car unit.


Those few dishonest dealers were bumming, but good dealers saw that these reports could provide proof of single ownership, low mileage and no damage.  Again, it gave the dealers credibility.


I do not feel these data companies should be in the vehicle valuation business, and if I was  dealer I would not use a history report with those valuations.   If dealers don’t like all the advertising that

CARFAX does, they just have to stop buying their services.  All those ad dollars would start to dry up.   


In addition to Autocheck some other providers are







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