Important Note:This part is designed to give you some basic knowledge about how to inspect a used car and can possibly help you to avoid used cars with potential problems.Information published here can’t substitute for detailed mechanical inspection performed by a professional mechanic.That’s why we always recommend you to visit a professional mechanic.
Mostly it’s not recommended to buy a car whis is involved in an accident.The main reason for that, you can’t be sure about job done.Strong frontal collision can damage the integrity of the vehicle body making it less stronger.The vehicle may develop some mechanical problems later such as wheel alignment problems, mulfunctioning problems, noisy wheel bearings, etc. Also paint job not always looks and holds as good as original, the color may not match and later the paint may start peeling off at the edges.
It doesn’t mean that all repainted cars are junk. Make sure that some cars has minor frontial damage can be fixed very good by professional mechanics and body men.So always get help from a professional.
Read few tips below how to inspect a car body for signs of previous accidents.
How to inspect a car body when buying a used car
STARTING WITH CAR HISTORY CHECK
The best way to start before even looking at the car,check the car history report which can already tell you if there is something wrong. So you will not waste your time with inspecting a previously wrecked car.Get the VIN (Vehicle identification Number- mostly located on the left corner of your windshield or inside of your driver door) and use this number to check car history.CARFAX is the most common internet based tool nowadays.
Ask the owner (salesperson) if the car has had any accidents?You can ask salesperson for a free CARFAX report in most car dealers.
In general, it is not a big deal if the car has been involved in minor “fender-bender” or only one body panel (a fender or door) had been repaired, because of a scratch or some other minor damage. But avoid cars that have been seriously damaged in a collision or have been flooded.
Also avoid cars that had been badly corroded and then repaired. A rust tends to reappear again.
LOOK DOWN THE LENGHT OF CAR
Before start make sure at you’re checking a clean car, because a dirty car can hide lots details!The lines of the car body should be straight.Look at the reflection;keep the car between you and light source to see waves on the body. Try to check the entire car this way.You can suspect the car has been damaged,sometimes it’s not a big a problem if only one body panel has been damaged. But it gives you the option to ask for a lower price.
CHECK ALL GAPS BETWEEN BODY PARTS
Every gap should be even along its entire length. Look at this image. The gap is narrow on the left and later becomes wide, which means this car has been hit at its right front corner. Try to inspect all the gaps the same way.
If one of the gaps looks too narrow (too wide) – compare it to the same gap on another side of the car, they have to be of exactly the same width. If they are notable different, it’s very possible the car has been in an accident.
FIND THE BORDER BETWEEN OLD AND NEW PAINT
CHECK THE PLACES BEHIND DOORS,HOOD AND TRUNK
Try to check all places like connection points,behind doors, hood, trunk and panels.Though a skilled painter may make such a border almost invisible, you’ll find it somewhere if you check the entire car carefully, so take your time.
There is one more sign you may find – scaled off clear coat. It usually happens because the area wasn’t sanded properly before painting, as in case of cheap repair.
CHECK THE HOOD AND DOOR HOLDING BOLTS
If hood has been realigned from its original position, It might be a sign that this car has been involved in an accident. Try to pull up the driver’s door when it’s open – does it have a free play in the hinges? Excessive free play – excessive use. Even it’s not a sign for previous accident, you will need a good aligment.so another chance to ask for lower price.
PAINT AND RUST CHECK
Some parts like fenders, doors and hood are hard to repaint and match the original paint.So start from these parts to figure it out.Take a look at the car from different angles and different distances.Different angle can show and hide the color difference.Feel the paint with your hand,if it’s not so smooth,if there are some little things, unevenless on paint,it is a sign that it has been painted and it’s not professionally.
If you find some spot of corrosion, continue your search more carefully. Check the floor under the carpet, door’s bottom, trunk and wheel arches. Take a little magnet and try to make it cling to the bottom of the doors, fenders and other places where you suspect some defect.
If there is too much filler under the paint, the magnet won’t cling. However one or two small spots of corrosion isn’t a big.
CHECK ORIGINAL STICKERS ON FENDERS, DOORS AND HOOD
Most of cars has some factory stickers and information panels.If a door,fender or hood has been replaced or painted,it’s going to be very hard to put this stickers back.And some new cars has VIN plates on their fenders,doors,hood even on door glass. Always make sure that it has its original stickers.
CHECK THE FRAME
Some cars have unibody (unibody is a construction technique that uses the external skin of an object to support some or most of the load on the structure) Some cars have a frame (many of SUV’s, trucks, some full-size vans and large passenger cars). The car’s frame (marked with a yellow arrows on the image below) is very essential to support the vehicle. Try to check the entire length of the frame. It shouldn’t have any visible damage or be corroded through.If you find the frame rusted through, it’s a sign for a previously repaired damage. Some people they fix cars by welding two different car frames and making one car like using a glue! That kind of car with a weak frame can cause lethal effects in an accident.AVOID such a car!
LOOK FOR SIGN OF FLOOD DAMAGE
If a car has been flooded in the past, even if it looks and runs good now, it will develop many expensive-to-fix problems later. This is because water gets inside many components where it shouldn’t be and eventually, the corrosion will cause a component to fail later.
Look for mildew smell, water stains on the seats, roof liner and door covers. Inspect door covers and trunk covers for possible signs of water level. If it’s possible, look for moisture under the carpet. Check lower edges of the door covers for water damage, look for corrosion and water debris in the spare tire well. look for badly corroded metal parts under seats. Check all door speakers – water could damage the speaker diaphragm. Coffee-with-milk color of the engine oil or transmission fluid may indicate presence of water. History report can also reveal flood. Be suspicious if the history report indicates that the car came from another state.