Buying a used car has its financial merits. However, as the buyer, you have to ensure that it is road-worthy by checking that it has not been in an accident before.
If the car has been in an accident, there will be telltale signs that corroborate that fact. However, sometimes even the most keen-eyed person may miss them as they may not be that obvious.
Here are a few ways you can spot whether the used car you are planning to buy has been in an accident before.
If the car has been in an accident, there’s a chance that the panels would have been replaced and repainted.
To find if this is true, look closely at the reflections lining the car. Any warps or changes in the reflection will indicate that the car was hastily repainted. Paint drips are also a bad omen.
While we are on the topic of repaired panels, look for any inconsistent panel gaps that may appear on the car. The spaces on the body of the car should be consistent throughout.
If the gaps get wider as you run the length of the car, it could be a sign of an accident. Furthermore, you should also be suspicious if the front and rear bumper are not straight or if the gap difference on the opposite sides of the car is significant.
Sometimes the biggest problems can't be found on the surface. In this case, you would need to check for various abnormalities under the hood. Things to look out for include:
- Bolts that don’t match or are missing
- Damaged or bent radiator support
- Signs of welding on the chassis
- Miscoloured inner panel paint
- Patches of body filler
Once that is done, move to the rear of the car and open the boot. Next, remove the carpeting and check for warping especially on the hinges of the door. Similarly, check the rear underside of the car at the point where the bumper and the body join and make sure it is straight.
This point is particularly important as it is one of the tougher problems to identify and could lead to a very uncomfortable ride as the driver would have to tilt the steering wheel ever so slightly to make the car travel straight. This is called “dog-tracking” or “crabbing”
It is almost impossible to identify this problem while the car is stationary. Hence, ask the owner to reverse the car and at the same time, check from the front or the back, preferably at a low angle to determine whether crabbing is happening. This can also be checked when going for a vehicle evaluation.
Uneven Tyre Wear
This is something most people miss because they diagnose this as a small problem. Uneven tyre wear is caused by a much bigger problem such as a damaged suspension system or a repurposed chassis that's been misaligned due to an accident.
If the chassis or suspension has been damaged in an accident, these parts might apply abnormal pressure to the tyres, resulting in uneven wear over time. This can cause loss of control or frequent skidding if left unchecked.
As a general rule of thumb, car buyers should always ask for a car evaluation before purchasing a used car to avoid purchasing a “lemon”. If a seller or dealer refuses, they might be hiding certain defects from you.
If you are thinking of buying a second-hand car, why not check out our extensive used car directory? Besides assisting you with the loan and paperwork clearance, we can even help you with your motor insurance policy.
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