Should You Buy a Car That’s Been in an Accident?
Advice from Our Knowledgeable Car Accident Lawyers
The used car you have been looking at may have been in an accident. How do you know? The sellers are usually honest about it. If you need a second opinion, then talk to your mechanic or check with commercial services that provide vehicle history reports on used cars and light trucks to US and Canadian consumers, such as CARFAX and Autocheck.
But should you buy a car that’s been in an accident? It depends. There is no reason why you shouldn’t buy a car that’s been in an accident if it is in good condition. But before buying one, you should make sure that you know everything about it. Here are some suggestions by experienced car accident lawyers.
- Find out how bad the accident was
Ask the seller how bad the accident was. If it suffered only minor damages needing some paintwork, then the car is good to buy. But if it suffered major damages, then you should see a red flag. Even if the car looks new (obviously, no one will sell such a car without repairing and repainting it), there can be some unknown problems. If you can’t trust the seller or need a second opinion, then check with CARFAX or Autocheck. They may have an accident report on the car.
- Have it checked by a trusted mechanic
Whether a used car has been in an accident or not, it’s always a good idea to have it checked by a trusted mechanic or a body shop before buying it. Do not go to a mechanic recommended by the seller; go to your own mechanic. Many mechanics are good at identifying replaced or repaired parts and most body shops can instantly identify a car that has received paintwork. Ask your mechanic to give his fair assessment of the car as well as his honest opinion on whether it’s a good buy or not.
- Find out who fixed the car
Ask the seller who fixed the car. This makes a big difference. Most sellers are honest about it. Was it fixed by a cheap local mechanic or body shop with no ties to the automaker? Or was it fixed by a factory body shop with ties to the automaker? If the paint colors do not match or the panels do not fit properly, then it was probably done by the former and there could be more hidden issues. Also, don’t forget to look at the emblems and badges. If they are missing, then it’s a sign that the repair was not done well.
- Find out the car’s title status
Ask the seller whether the car has salvage status. A salvage status is a form of vehicle title branding, which lets potential buyers know that the vehicle was damaged and/or was deemed a total loss by that insurance company that paid a claim on it. Different states have different criteria for issuing salvage titles. Many states will issue a salvage title to a vehicle whose repair costs exceed its present value. A repaired car is also issued a “Rebuilt title” once it has been inspected and deemed to meet certain safety criteria.
- Find out the car’s resale value
You may want to sell the car after using it for some time. One thing you should keep in mind is that a car that has been in an accident won’t have as much resale value as a car that hasn’t. Forget about hiding the truth or lying to the potential buyer; he or she will probably find out the same way you did. So you have to come clean. If you frequently change your car and want a good resale value, then you’d better buy a car that hasn’t been in an accident.
The positive side of buying a car that has been in an accident is that you can get it cheaply and it may be a great deal. The negative side is that it may have some hidden problems or may not fetch a good price when you need to sell it yourself. If you ever get in an accident, you should consult top car accident lawyers immediately.