WASHINGTON - Carfax Vehicle History Service will report odometer readings at the time vehicles go through state emissions tests to reduce the chances of odometer rollbacks.
The Fairfax, Va., company starts reporting the results of emissions tests and odometer readings in a few months. The service is expected to be national within a year.
'We want to capture an odometer reading as often as possible. It gives us the possibility to detect more odometer rollbacks,' said Richard Raines, president of Carfax, who spoke to the Washington Automotive Press Association this month. Odometer rollbacks usually occur just before a vehicle is sold, he said.
Raines estimated 60 percent of vehicles nationwide face emissions inspections every year.
Within the next several months, Carfax also intends to beef up the data in its vehicle history reports to include information on recall campaigns and maintenance records, as well as whether the car was a rental, fleet or lease vehicle.
Carfax just went national after arranging to collect data from New York state.
The company, which provides separate title information services to dealers and consumers, has 420 million vehicle records in its database. Carfax expects to have 1 billion records by 2000. It was launched in 1984 with 10,000 vehicle records.
The reports now show if a car has been branded a salvage or lemon in states with title branding laws. The service also helps identify odometer rollbacks, flood damage and vehicles that automakers bought back from consumers because of complaints.
The company has major expansion plans, including:
More Internet exposure. It intends to create a separate Web site so dealerships can order vehicle history reports over the Internet. On its consumer Web site, Carfax next month will add an Internet partner - Edmund's Publications Corp. Carfax has links to Web sites for Kelley Blue Book and Auto Trader Online.
Broader accident reports. Carfax only reports about 10 percent of the accidents. The company gets its information from state motor vehicle departments, which receive reports from insurance companies. Insurance companies only report accidents when they take title to cars totaled in an accident. Carfax is negotiating with the insurance companies to report more accidents and is trying to get accident data from extended service plan administrators.
Comprehensive vehicle histories for consumers. This fall, Carfax plans to provide a more detailed report for consumers that includes the number of titles issued, number of owners, how the vehicle was used, and the odometer reading each time the car was titled. Currently, Carfax only alerts consumers when there is a problem with the title, such as a salvage brand. The price for vehicle histories will remain $12.50.