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Carfax - Not Actual Mileage, concern?
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JN99
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 10:54 am    Post subject: Carfax - Not Actual Mileage, concern? Reply with quote

The `87 Westy we are about to buy has very low mileage (92k) which is one of the reasons we are about to buy it. However, the following shows up in Carfax and I'm not sure if this is an indication the odometer wasn't working or was tampered with or what exactly. Is this a cause for concern? Would it potentially impact our ability to sell the vehicle later?

A mechanic who recently worked on the can said it's in great shape and drives like a low mileage van and that he had no reason to doubt the mileage but all these records have me a bit worried...

01/01/1994 Arizona
Motor Vehicle Dept.
Title #P2XK940140 NOT ACTUAL MILEAGE TITLE ISSUED

05/18/1994 24,188 California
Inspection Station
San Diego, CA Passed emissions inspection

04/04/1996 53,926 Arizona
Motor Vehicle Dept.
Prescott Valley, AZ
Title #P1X0960950096 NOT ACTUAL MILEAGE TITLE ISSUED
Loan or lien reported

08/20/2003 Arizona
Motor Vehicle Dept.
Prescott Valley, AZ
Title #P031003232038 New owner reported
NOT ACTUAL MILEAGE TITLE ISSUED

11/04/2003 100,000 Arizona
Motor Vehicle Dept.
Prescott Valley, AZ
Title #P044003308010 New owner reported
NOT ACTUAL MILEAGE TITLE ISSUED
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gunmetalgrey
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 11:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is that all that was on the carfax report?
I recently sold a car and a potential buyer did a carfax report and told me that the mileage was wrong... Following along the timeline on the carfax report, the car had about 12k miles every year. Then, one year when it got an oil change, it was 100k miles higher than it should have been. Then, it went back down the next report to where it would have been if the average of 12k miles had continued... It was pretty obvious that whoever did the oil change added 100k for whatever reason when typing it in? I'm not really sure how the mileage gets entered for carfax..... My point is that carfax isn't gospel, just a tool. Look at the whole picture.
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SL1
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

X2 on the carfax - its only as good as the people providing the info

there was a documentary on carfax here in Canada, and it was less than flattering for the carfax people, they had to admit on camera that its just a tool to use, bottom line is BUYER BEWARE.

One of the most important checks is for a lien on the vehicle

good luck
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JN99
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My concern is really that one of the key decision points in buying this van specifically is the low mileage. There are 4 instances of AZ title transfers without certified odo readings. One blip on the report I could overlook or dismiss but this is, to me at least, a pretty strong indication that the odo wasn''t working and the miles it shows now (92k) are most likely not accurate.

There is also nothing in the report (or from Autocheck either) showing any kind of a potentially reliable mileage history. So my guess is the mileage on the odo is wrong just how wrong is anybody's guess.
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Ahwahnee
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What mileage is shown on the vehicle's current title?
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

my mileage is meaningless as cluster has been replaced twice at least in my ownership but I do mark the engine hrs and mileage when I get fuel so it can be relative. But then I'm honest to a fault (well except that J in Administration says I lie! Rolling Eyes ) Cool

OP is there a file history with the van, sometime you can garnish mileage for various jobs. ex. mine gives me a date when transmission was done. Again as above mileage/km is meaningless. Was a WA state van, now cluster in km.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think with many of the vehicles of this breed the mileage is a moot point due to the high likelihood that the cluster has been replaced.

Sure it would be nice to find one with certified low mileage, but given the fact that Vanagon owners will no doubt be replacing stuff out of age regardless of mileage, its even less of an issue (to me at least).

At best, vanagon owners are dealing with 20 year old vehicles, with parts and designs predating that date. My title states not actual mileage, not an issue to me as much as the state of the vehicle.
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JN99
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ahwahnee wrote:
What mileage is shown on the vehicle's current title?


It's blank, so no help there.
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dobryan
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JN99 wrote:
Ahwahnee wrote:
What mileage is shown on the vehicle's current title?


It's blank, so no help there.


That happens a lot and that gets a carfax report of 'not actual mileage' since they have no report of the mileage (or something like that). I wouldn't worry about it much as long as the general condition of the vehicle matches the expected mileage.
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dubbified
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Honestly, if there is no clear maintenance track, and you've questioned on the mileage.. dont play around.. move to another van if you dont want to be strapped with replacements..

I ran into this with another car.. wouldnt do it again.
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DAIZEE
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You don't mention is there is a history file. THAT's important Exclamation . IMHO if its a good engine, its a good engine, I think the transmission age/mileage is more of a concern. You don't say if its automatic or manual. If you are not comfortable with it then move on. Chances of finding a legit low mileage are pretty small if its been running. If it's sat a lot then that could be a problem. IMHO
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JN99
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is a manual trans. Recent service showed "tired synchros" in first gear according to the shop that did the work. The tech said it is pretty normal on these vans and not out of line with the mileage nor a big concern.

I'm trying to get more info on what history there is as far as maintenance is concerned so don't know the extent of what's available. I am not entirely comfortable but instead of just moving on am trying to get to a point where I am or then move on if not.

While I agree with that a good engine is a good engine, a good engine with 92k miles likely has a lot more life left in it than a good engine with 150 or 200k.
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DAIZEE
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

it's a VW they can go on and on and on IF they have been maintained properly. Low mileage is not really indicative of anything. I'd love to have a syncro but I don't, have had a lot of experience with 3 engines, it's all in the quality of work and maintenance and "tired syncro" doesn't mean anything really in mechanical standing. Using that expression would be a RED FLAG to me. If you are dealing with the seller or a dealer then you should be getting way more info than you seem to be depending on. Sorry if I sound harsh but that's the way it is. If it's had one owner since new, then there should be a file. No file, walk/run away. Low mileage does not a deal make! and it's certainly not any kind of quarantee to the quality of anything. I've learned a LOT in the past 2 years. I was burned, don't want to see someone else going there. Wink
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dubbified
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To me a engine at 92K, is close enough to service, I'd question the lack of info on the mileage discrepancy between carfax..

Course, it also depends on what you're going to be doing with it, intended locations for driving, expectations of dependability..

I'd looked around for 8 months pretty intently, a month with cash in hand pulling my hair out, and found a 90 for 8K, but despite the records, I still pulled everything, fully rebuilt the vehicle.

if i were to do it over, I'd gotten a non operational at 2K or so, and done everything and painted it.

learning lessons..
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JN99
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DAIZEE wrote:
it's a VW they can go on and on and on IF they have been maintained properly. Low mileage is not really indicative of anything. I'd love to have a syncro but I don't, have had a lot of experience with 3 engines, it's all in the quality of work and maintenance and "tired syncro" doesn't mean anything really in mechanical standing. Using that expression would be a RED FLAG to me. If you are dealing with the seller or a dealer then you should be getting way more info than you seem to be depending on. Sorry if I sound harsh but that's the way it is. If it's had one owner since new, then there should be a file. No file, walk/run away. Low mileage does not a deal make! and it's certainly not any kind of quarantee to the quality of anything. I've learned a LOT in the past 2 years. I was burned, don't want to see someone else going there. Wink


And it is appreciated Smile

The seller has provided whatever we've asked for; just had not asked for maintenance records because I believe it to be largely stock and with little to nothing done until this buyer got it (which was only a couple months ago). He has a file but doesn't know what's in it and is getting back to me.

Tired synchros is just the way the mechanic phrased it relating to 1st gear so I didn't see that comment in particular as a red flag. He went through everything the shop had done to the van - new water pump, replaced all coolant hoses and fittings, all new belts, fuel tank reseal, replaced fuel lines, new bilstein shocks (rears), oil/filter, trans fluid flush, brake flush. The way he put it was they went through it and did everything they found that needed to be done. The only outstanding item is the ps rack, which needs to be replaced, and I'm having them do a compression and leak down test.
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DAIZEE
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So I say again, get the history file, its easy to say something was done, better to read it was done and paid for. Ultimately your decision.

Yet another example from my experience is that I was handed a history file that appeared to have a lot of info and I didn't get around to actually putting it in chronological date order and when I did, there was really nothing in the file but duplicates and paper. Only info I really garnished out of it was the transmission history but it was sold as a non functioning van to the person I bought it off of. Lots and lots of mechanical and wiring problems discovered by me at my expense PLUS mucho towing costs. Making a mistake can happen but the same mistake should never happen twice. Alas took me 18 mths to learn my lesson and an emptied bank account (was 5 figures) and in debt.

If you have any doubt, I say don't! Good luck, I'll butt out now. Wink Now I have a van (same one) that I am in love with Cool but it cost a lot more than the purchase price and good faith by the seller when I pushed and had multi professional backing.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Daizee, I feel your experience and situation is unique only to you because of the conditions under which you went about purchasing your van and from who. It was a highly modified from stock van with a completely different engine, wiring system and coolant system. The advice you give is prudent, but doesn't apply to 99% of the vanagons out there that are stock. What potential buyers need to be wary of are modifications that are made without records. That is the lesson that should be learned from your situation.
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JN99
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DAIZEE wrote:
So I say again, get the history file, its easy to say something was done, better to read it was done and paid for. Ultimately your decision.


I think you're missing what I've written. I've talked directly to the shop that did the work for the seller. It's the previous owner's maintenance that I am waiting for but that hasn't been discussed so it's not about the seller saying something was done that perhaps was not. What he's done I've confirmed; he's only had it two months and I've confirmed everything he did. Prior to that, well I will find out as well as I'll have the numbers on the compression and leak down check.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your sense about the seller is about as important as anything else. It is a huge red flag to me that an owner with a title that is marked Not Actual Miles (and it is right on the title) doesn't offer that information up front. That is not something you should not have to ask for from an honest seller. AZ apparently was told or found out that it isn't actual miles, probably from an honest prior owner that told them (checked the box on the title). maybe they changed out the speedo at one time. There should be a door sticker or records that shows what the old and new miles were when it was swapped over. Someone may have pulled that sticker off & tossed the mechanic's records. So you have absolutely no idea what the miles really are. Could be 100K higher. Many vans look like low mile vans when they aren't.

Does it matter. It will always be worth a little less than a documented actual miles van. But if the condition is great, and it looks great, that is better than low miles. I'd have the engine tested by a very good VW specialist and have everything else looked over. The engine will be the biggest expense if it really is high miles, maybe $4500 at some point. But I have never known anyone who owned a van for a while that didn't have to put an engine in. So maybe it is just a matter of time, not cost.

I bought a van that was advertised as 96K and later found out it was 175K. I replaced the engine a lot sooner than I would have had to. And the tranny was going out when I sold it at around 200K. The prior owner did it to me though and he seemed honest and straight forward. I took him to sm claims court and won the max they can give you, $1500.

So take it to a good vw mechanic and look very closely at whatever receipts he has to see what maintenace has been done and you should have a better idea if it is still a good one.
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SL1
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 19, 2011 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well, it sounds like the last owner did lots of maintenance, and that will save you lots of trouble and money. You have a knowledgeable VW mechanic checking it over, and the leakdown and compression tests are a smart move, then you just have to roll the dice and take your chances

Owning a vanagon is a love/hate/love relationship, or I should say it can be.

My Westy came from BC, great shape, soild chassis, even had a recent rebuild from VW Canada. Had it checked by a very reputable VW shop in NS, and though they found no problems with it, The engine was toast after two weeks. It developed micro-cracks between the valves and was not detected during the leakdown test and compression test -it had to be hot and running hard for them to open up. Long story short, I had to get my engine rebuilt complete with new heads and all the sensors / waterpump, etc.

After much cursing and reflection, I still love my Westy, and now know for sure what I have. I knew full well that at some point I would be rebuilding my engine - just didn't plan on it so soon. I still have tons of work left, for my own reasons, as I plan to have it fully restored within the next two years, and that will have increased my purchase price threefold

As many people say, its a 20+ year old vehicle, parts are expensive, and it will require work, no matter what you have or what was done in the past

Like dubbified said, lessons learned..... Laughing
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