Life is an ongoing struggle of delicate balance. There are always 2 sides to every decision, and every gain is potentially marred by a loss of something else. The same is true of cars in our lives. It’s all about balancing what you want and what you can afford, and that Goldilocks zone is very different for everyone.
For some of us, especially the younger ones, used cars may be the only sensible avenue into car ownership. What you trade-off in modern gizmos and gadgets, you gain in some sizable financial savings.
That is only if you get a peach of a used car. Their more citrusy counterparts may come with more palatable price tags but hide a significant and sour aftertaste. Unscrupulous dealers may have botched together accident-damaged vehicles to pass an unwitting buyer’s visual inspection for a quick flip. These cars may hide the damage that affects their structural integrity or have issues that lead to excessive and premature wear-and-tear.
Here’s the issue though – some touch-up jobs are so good, that it can be hard to discern the extent of a car’s damage. So how should check for signs a used car has been in an accident?
8) Unpainted Surfaces Or Rust
Check areas behind external panels to see if they have been properly painted. It is not uncommon for cars to leave the factory with the only primer in areas that are not commonly seen. Signs of patchwork, or perhaps even completely exposed metal is a sign that the car has been in an accident and have been replaced.
7) Welding Marks
Your car should only have weld marks on the edges of the panel. Factories use a combination of panel bond and plug welds to fabricate cars in the present day. Spot welds anywhere else can be a sign that the car was previously in an accident and has been repaired.
6) Replaced Parts
Mismatched parts can be a sign that the car has been in an accident. Headlights, mirrors, even whole panels can be of a different hue or spot differing levels of wear. This indicates that the car has had replacement parts fitted at some point in its potentially checkered history!
5) Panel Misalignment
It’s a bit of black art in itself to get all the panels perfectly aligned from the factory. Panels all have their own unique mounts and need to be fitted in a certain way in 3D space. Failing to do so, results in uneven panel gaps that can, at best be unsightly, at worse, cause panel damage.
It can be really tough for even skilled mechanics to fully restore every last mount after a decent-sized shunt. Slight changes in the location of the panels may not be noticeable until after the car is fully reassembled. Some of these mounts are deeply embedded within the structure of the vehicle itself, requiring massive labour for replacement. As external panels largely serve a cosmetic purpose, mechanics may opt to not mend it for bigger profit margins.
4) Uneven Paint
There are 2 ways this can manifest itself. Firstly, the factory paint is never perfectly glossy, so you’d expect to see some degree of orange peel in the clear coat. When a car has been in a shunt, the replaced panels may be blended onto the surrounding undamaged parts. This presents a cost-saving over a complete exterior respray. Typically, hand-laid paint is smoother than the factory equivalent, so there’s already going to be a difference in the finish. Some workshops then polish up these freshly repainted panels for an even more stark contrast in the paintwork.
Poor workmanship is also another possibility, yielding a worse-than-OEM finish. Perhaps it was an attempt at replicating the factory orange peel that has gone wrong. Or it could be a slight mismatch in the hue of the stock paintwork. Paint that isn’t 100% could be a sign the car was crashed and may have been fixed on a shoestring!
This is a sure-fire way to ascertain if a car’s paintwork is not original. To avoid damaging the surprisingly costly weather stripping on a vehicle, workshops often mask them up before a respray. If done properly, these can survive a trip to the paint booth unsullied by overspray. However, you’re more likely to come across a less-than-ideal tape job, which can then coat the rubbers in some overspray!
2) Mismatched Tyre set
Some owners and dealers opt to swap only the fronts or the rears in a bid to keep costs down. That, whilst not ideal, is somewhat commonplace, and shouldn’t be a cause for too big of a concern.
It’s when you see a singular mismatched tyre that alarm bells should start ringing. Do take a look at the suspension and brake components of the corner with the mismatched tyre. If the wear levels are not consistent with the other 3 corners, it has likely been in a crash. Another way to tell is if one corner visually sticks out and is not representative of the indicated mileage!
1) Suspiciously New Dashboard
Modern cars have airbags built into the dashboard. This means seamless aesthetics but can mean the entire dashboard needs replacing if they have been deployed. There’s a good chance that, if the dashboard looks out-of-place in the cabin, the car has been in some trouble prior!
No one wants to be involved in a collision. Unfortunately, accidents are named as such for a reason. If you’ve accidentally purchased a used car that has been in an accident, our application is sure to be of help! We can connect you to emergency and towing services, as well as connecting you to workshops around the country. Transparent communication and close competition mean affordable pricing and good service! Our application is available on both IOS and Android, so do give us a go now!