Checking for Signs of an Accident when Buying a Used Car

When you’re shopping for a used car, it can be difficult to know what to look for. How do you know if the car is reliable, safe and fit for purpose?

In addition to standard checks, such as obvious signs of damage, wear to tyres, steering, brakes and the clutch, what else should you be looking for? Here are some of the tell-tale signs that a car has been in an accident, so you can look out for them when buying a used car.

Signs of Repaint

If the used car you’re looking at has recently been repainted, then this should flag alarm bells. However, it’s not always easy to tell when a car has had a new paint job. Study the bodywork under natural light (are any of the panels a slightly different colour?), make sure the paintwork is smooth (repaints can’t match the precision of factory jobs), and check that there’s no paint where it shouldn’t be (such as trims).

Problems with Body Work

Usually easier to spot than a repaint, any issues with body work may indicate that the car has been in an accident. Walk around the car and take notice of each panel. Are there any gaps? Are there any ripples or bumps in the bodywork? And does the bonnet and boot line-up correctly? Any damage could indicate that panels have been replaced or repaired.

Unevenly Worn Tyres

While it could be that it needs realignment, unevenly worn tyres could also point to an accident. When you take the car for a test-drive, check to see if it pulls to a side, as this indicates alignment issues – make sure to ask if alignment has recently been done. If the car doesn’t pull to a side, it could be that the chassis has suffered collision damage.

Replacement Parts

Although the car may have had a fault and required replacement parts, it may not be so straightforward. Check the car’s interior for any signs of replacement. Does all of the trim match? Are there signs that the airbag may have deployed? In addition, if you’re able to, look underneath the car. Is the overall level of wear and aging appropriate for the age of the car? And does any of the underside look newer than the rest?

Buying a second-hand car can be a stressful process, but looking for these signs should help you to rule out a car that has been in an accident. Furthermore, when buying a used car, it’s always a good idea to get a comprehensive car check, which will provide a complete history of the vehicle.

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