It is not a deal breaker to purchase a car with an accident history. You might just get a good car for a lot less than what other cars are worth with the same credentials. However, if the car has been stripped down and put back from every corner, then it surely isn’t the car you should go for.
We give you a basic checklist that will help you examine the used car closely and assess the value of the car better before purchasing it.
1. Check the service history
A complete service history of the car should be able to tell you about how the car was handled during its period with the owner. An owner who maintains the complete service history of the car is far more trustworthy. You will find all the needed details of the accident, the damages, repairs that were done post the accident. It should also mention about any insurance claims that were made and the cause of the accident. This will help you to assess the extent of the damage yourself. If the service history is partial, there are other ways you can find out, if the car has been in a collision or an accident or not.
2. Check the windshield for cracks
Look for any chips, cracks on the front and rear windshield. A cracked windshield could be because of a possible collision, which was not taken care of. Talk to the owner and ask him for an explanation. You might have to replace the windshield which is an expensive affair; you could use this as alibi for bargaining the asking price.
3. Look for cracks and scratches on the bumper
The most visible signs would be on the bumper and the sides of the car. Look for bumps, scratches, scrapes, dents on the car. It will tell you a lot about how the car was driven and maintained by the owner.
4. Look for gaps in panels and doors
Look for uneven panels around the car. Open and shut all the doors and see if they close properly or not. A loosely closed door could be a sign of replaced door. Changed panels are a sign of collisions and could possibly mean the internal mechanicals were also damaged. If the front fenders were changed, look specifically if there is any damage to the suspension.
5. Look for repainted panels
A repainted panel will show with an uneven filling or change in the colour of the new panel. If the repair work was shoddy, it will show up on the car as well. It is best inspect paint work during the day in bright sunlight, so that any inaccuracies come out clearly. Feel the paint with your palm and you will find uneven filling easily.
6. Check the engine bay
If you find the engine bay super clean after finding problems throughout the car, it means that the engine has seen better days and the owner wants to get rid of the car as soon as possible. You should also check for any major leakages that the car might have and has been cleaned temporarily for making a sale.
7. Talk to the owner
After examining the car, if you find any inconsistencies; it is best to ask for a valid explanation from the owner about the same. If the owner is trying to hide the cause of the accident, he will insist you complete the sale and transaction immediately. Don’t commit on anything unless you are absolutely sure about the car. If you think the car is damaged and the owner won’t accept, it’s better to walk away from that deal.
8. Take it to a trusted mechanic
You could choose to take your trusted mechanic along and have him examine the car. He will be able to tell you off any major faults that the car may have, which could crop up in the future. You could also ask the owner, about where the car has been serviced and repaired till date and pay a visit to that garage to know about the work done on the car. If the car was repaired and serviced at an authorized service centre, you could easily get all the details about the car only with the registration number.
If you choose to go for a car with an accident history, make sure it won’t creep up with issues later. Buying a car with slight dents and scratches is ok as long as the structural rigidity of the car is intact. A major overhaul or accident would simply mean that the car isn’t as safe anymore and would be very unreliable. Look out for a complete service record that tells you about the history of the car.
Remember, reselling a car with an accident history will be equally difficult and expect a similar attitude from the next person purchasing the car. Moreover the depreciation will be quite high, so expect to take a hit on the sale price as well.