Short answer, Yes, but the issue was less severe by the generation you are speaking of. The 2.5s of the late 90s were horrible with the HG issues. Early 2000s were better. I think the issue went until the 09s being the last with the "issue"
I was a car dealer for a few years and did a carfax on every car we sold. (This was for customer assurance only.) I can say having seen hundreds of carfax reports that the only consistent reason to get a carfax is to satisfy your curiosity. Usually all you get is a random smattering of maintenance that's been done over the years, and the dates and location in which it changed hands.
Accident history and such would only show up if the car was taken to specific dealers within the system. If I hit a tree, then took it to my local shop for repair, or did the repair myself, it will not show up on a carfax. Carfax has good advertising warning of totaled cars and flood cars. That sort of thing will result in a title branding. You don't need a carfax to tell you what the title of the car already says.
There's very little that carfax can give you an advantage on that a thorough look over on the car wont. Was it maintained? Modified? repaired? Repainted? Looking a car over well will give you a good idea on these things. And I always maintain that a car repaired properly is repaired properly. I know a guy who quite happily bought a branded title Honda Accord. The car had been totaled, repaired and re-titled. He drove that car for over 10 years and 100,000 miles with nothing out of the ordinary. Cars are just metal, nuts and bolts, so I feel like carfax mostly just makes people worry. Those unsafe sort of patch jobs that you do want to worry about are done in backyards and private garages and will not show up on a carfax.
Like the dodge stealth i saw at an auto auction. It had been rear ended. someone welded the front of a dodge stealth to the back of a 3000GT (unibody mind you) and repainted it. Car looked great. had to look close to see where welding had taken place. CLEAR title.
So with or without a carfax, be sure to go over the car with a fine toothed comb. Bring a buddy along for a second opinion. A car is a machine and a proper evaluation of that machine will let you know what you're getting into with little surprise.
Edited by AdventureSubaru, 14 July 2013 - 10:52 AM.