Coast to Coast Motors Official Blog

How can you tell if a used car has been in an accident?

By Product Expert | Posted in FAQ on Monday, May 6th, 2019 at 6:19 PM
Two people checking damage to their cars after an accident

When shopping for a used vehicle, it’s important to look out for signs that the vehicle was in a previous accident. We break down 3 easy ways to uncover hidden damage below.

[Read More: What car color shows the least amount of dirt?]

3 Easy Ways To Uncover Hidden Damage On A Used Vehicle

Mechanic with a notepad and pencil writing notes above a car engineInspect for Physical Damage

If a vehicle was in a previous accident, and especially if it wasn’t repaired properly, there are usually some telltale signs that car shoppers can spot right away on the dealership lot. Look out for cracks or dents on the front or rear bumper. The bumpers will usually take the first hit in an accident and any cracks or dents could be a sign of other accident-related damage elsewhere. Also look to see if the doors, windows, and trunk all close flush with even gaps all around. If not, there was likely some bodywork done on the exterior.

Research the VIN

Most used dealerships will provide their customers with a free vehicle history report for any model available on their lot. The vehicle history report should provide key information on the maintenance and history of each specific model including whether it was in an accident, a flood, or some other natural disaster. If your dealership does not provide a free vehicle history report, you can also purchase one online using the model’s vehicle identification number or VIN.

Bring It To A Trusted Mechanic

Whether a used purchase comes with a free vehicle history report or not, we always recommend buyers have any potential used purchase inspected by a third-party mechanic. Not only should the mechanic be able to alert drivers to any accident damage or sub-par repair work, but they can also clue potential buyers in on any upcoming repairs the vehicle may need and what kind of condition it’s in under the hood.

[Read More: When am I most likely to get the best deal on my car purchase?]

Just because a used vehicle has signs of past damage from an accident doesn’t mean it isn’t a good buy. You’ll have to do some extra digging to find out just how bad the accident was and how well the repairs were performed, which an inspection from a trusted mechanic can help with. Keep in mind that if you are interested in purchasing a used vehicle with previous damage it should be priced below what a similar used model with no damage history would cost. If it isn’t, you aren’t getting a great deal.