March 28, 2023

If you purchase a used car with little to no service history, you might be taking a risk. You don’t know if the vehicle has been in an accident. However, some helpful clues can show you if the car has been banged up before.

One way to see if a vehicle has been in an accident is to get a vehicle history report from a service like Carfax. Carfax and similar services can give you an accurate picture of the vehicle you want to purchase. Getting the car’s history may take a little time, but it’s worth it. 

Additionally, even if a car comes back with a clean report, it is not a 100% guarantee that the vehicle has never been in an accident. Here are some things to keep your eyes out for to save yourself a ton of trouble.

Look at the Paint Job

A great way to determine if a car has been in an accident is to look for signs that it has been repainted. Look at the reflection of the paint. When viewed straight on, the surface of the vehicle may look smooth. But if you sit by the side of the car, you might see the unevenness. Walk around the entire vehicle. Make sure that all the color panels match. If they don’t, you know some patchwork was done.

Misaligned Panels

Carefully examine the tires. If the tread is uneven, it is likely because the wheels are misaligned due to damage to the chassis. Look at the underbody of the wheel wells. If you see a reparation undercoat that looks like it has been freshly applied, this is a good indication of recent structural repairs.

Damp Smells

Check the electronic equipment. This includes power windows, power doors, and lights. If you notice that the electronic equipment doesn’t work right, it could indicate flood damage. Be especially cautious if there are too many air fresheners in the cabin. It could be that the owner is trying to hide a damp smell caused by water damage.

Get Behind the Wheel

Don’t buy a car without driving it first. Listen for strange sounds, like squealing from the tires. This might indicate that an axle bearing is damaged or failing. Any tapping or knocking sound from the engine could mean a damaged piston from an accident.

The Wrap Up

There are a ton of financial benefits to buying a used car. But you want to make sure the vehicle you buy is right for you. Following the above-mentioned steps can help you identify if the car you want to purchase has been in an accident.