How accurate is your CarFax report?

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GILBERT - When Elvis Farrish needed a new car, he did exactly what a commercial says you should do. He asked for the CarFax.

At the time, Elvis says the dealership showed him a clean CarFax history report on a 2005 Volkswagen Jetta.

The car appeared to have never had any major damage and had never been in an accident.

That sounded good to Elvis so he bought the car for $12,000.

“And I bought the car, didn't have a lot of time to search. Found the best deal I thought I could,” he said.

That was about a year ago, but just months after he purchased the Jetta, Elvis says it started to act up, so he decided to trade it in for another car.

"When I finally found a vehicle that I liked, the dealer was like hey, we got a problem," Elvis said. "You're CarFax report shows that your vehicle has had an accident."

Not only had it been in an accident, a new CarFax report printed last month shows the car has had structural and frame damage, information that wasn't on Elvis's CarFax a year ago.

Looking closer at the most recent report shows the seller actually disclosed the damage two months before Elvis bought the car but that CarFax didn't start reporting the problems until April of this year.

“What's the significance of the service if we can't really guarantee on what they're offering?” Elvis asked.

CarFax tells 3 On Your Side even though the previous owner disclosed the damage when the car was auctioned off in May 2009, CarFax didn't receive the information until April of this year.

We wanted to know more about where the information came from, but were told by CarFax it wasn't available.

In an email, CarFax says it's continuously adding new sources that can provide additional details about a car's past.

Those additional details came too late for Elvis Farrish.

“I had to eat $5031,” he said.

He wound up trading in the Jetta for $3,500 and says despite their convincing commercials, getting a CarFax history report should only be the beginning of your research into the purchase of a used car.

“I don't know how you'd go around finding the truth on the actual vehicle now because this was a pretty low blow,” he said.

CarFax tells us consumers should never rely solely on their reports when buying a car, but that you should have an it inspected by a mechanic before you buy.