WHITEHOUSE STATION, New Jersey (WABC) -- There was car trouble for a police detective and his family in New Jersey. When he tried to sell his wife's car, the car history report online came back with a bunch of incidents he knew nothing about.
When he needed a sleuth to uncover what's going on, he called 7 On Your Side. It's standard operating procedure - when you want to sell or buy a car, you get a vehicle history report.
The gold standard is of course, Carfax. But what if your Carfax is incorrect? By a lot! It's a problem that was going to cost one car owner thousands in re-sale value.
A Benz is Joanne Neste's baby. She keeps the three-year-old C300 sedan showroom shiny.
The tenured teacher, in the classroom for 26 years, loves her personal vanity plates. They say ABC123.
But those plates may cost her plenty. She and her husband went to trade in her beloved Benz for a new Volvo last month and got slapped with a big surprise.
Their Carfax reported their Mercedes had rolled up a whopping 131,000 miles on it, double the reading on their odometer. And much worse, the Carfax red-flagged damage, a quad of collisions. Three accidents in New Jersey and the 4th 1400 miles away in Oklahoma.
"Have you ever been in a wreck?", we asked. "Not with this vehicle, thank God," said Joanne Neste. "Have you ever been to Oklahoma?". "Never, never," she said.
The next hit was to their wallet. The incorrect Carfax would cost the Nestes thousands in re-sale value.
The next step - armed with all his service records with odometer readings plus a letter from his insurer saying no accidents were reported, the police captain appealed to Carfax.
But they say they heard nothing back. So we contacted our contact at Carfax who has helped us with many stories. Within hours his team cleared up the Carfax.
"No accidents reported to Carfax, no damage reported to Carfax, the service records are correct and it is a clean Carfax!," said Damian Neste.
"I totally have a lot of belief in 7 On Your Side. I will tell anyone with any issues reach out to 7 On Yur Side!," said Joanne.
Carfax apologized for this Mercedes mix-up, saying mistakes like this one are rare. Its rep said if you have a question about something on a Carfax report you can do it online through their "help" tab. Here's the link: https://support.carfax.com/
So, how did this happen? Well, Damian told us that when police departments don't have a plate number, their computer uses a default - ABC-123 - Joanne's vanity plate. That's why Joanne says she'll be switching to a plain old normal plate when she gets her new car.
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7 On Your Side clears up Carfax confusion
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