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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Feb 21, 2010

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Move Over, Carfax Californians can now get a report on a vehicle's history from the DMV for $4, now that the state has made federal data available to consumers, according to Nathan Olivarez-Giles of the LA Times. "Before, the state contracted with Carfax. Now, the state has made information from a federal website available to consumers. Consumers now can buy a report from the California Department of Motor Vehicles containing information from a database compiled from junkyards, mechanics, insurance companies and other sources." This compares very favorably to the approximately $30 charge for a history from the popular car-information company, Carfax. The database is reportedly run by the American Assn. of Motor Vehicle Administrators for the Justice Department. "Congress passed a law in 1992 mandating the creation of the database as a tool to combat auto theft and fraud, but it wasn't until 2008 that the Justice Department created the database after lawsuits from consumer groups accused the agency of dragging its feet," says Olivarez-Giles. The reports can be purchased online at "With the reports, used-car buyers can find out whether the car has been stolen or its odometer altered, and the report can reveal if a car has been declared a total loss, salvaged from a flood or rebuilt after a wreck," says Joe Ridout, a spokesman for San Francisco-based advocacy group Consumer Action. The histories can also help buyers avoid vehicles that are unsafe because they may have been inadequately repaired after damage, Rideout said to the Times. However, reports from Carfax and its competitor Experian AutoCheck do have some information not included in the federal database, such as data from police reports, repair shops and smog facilities, according to Ridout said. "It took more than 18 years to get this information available to the public in California, but it's here."  

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