Maybe it seems too good to be true: a beautiful used car, at the right price. The only trick is, you don’t have access to a vehicle history, and you don’t know for sure why the asking price is so low. How can you tell if a car has been in a wreck and been repaired? Here are a few signs of a past car accident on a used car that you can check yourself. Remember, many cars can be repaired after an accident and be a great value, but as a car buyer you should be informed of that before you sign on the dotted line.
Signs of a past car accident on a used car
Badly Fitted Body Parts
If when you open the door it touches the fender, or if there are gaps (or an irregular fit) between the rear tailgate and body, that may be a sign the vehicle was badly repaired after some pretty serious damage.
Extensive Dents and Body Filler
A few dents are normal on any used car, but if a lot of dents have been smoothed with body filler (or just are still there) then you may want to ask some questions about where the damage came from. Also, if the two sides of the vehicle are differently shaped, then that can be another sign that the car has been in an accident.
Irregular Paint Colors
While different-colored body panels or doors are a good sign that something has been replaced, subtle differences in the exterior paint on your vehicle could be a more troubling sign that the car has been repaired extensively without your knowledge. If the vehicle has been sprayed over, the doorjam, moldings, and plastic cover items may be missed entirely, so that is a good place to check to confirm.
Damage Under the Vehicle
The undercarriage of a vehicle will almost always be dirty and have normal scratches and small dents, but issues like a muffler held up with zip ties or a big dent in the gas tank can be a huge red flag.
It’s always smart when buying a pre-owned vehicle to look at it and test drive it during the day so you get the best visibility. Having a mechanic look it over before you buy can also save you hassles later on.