When you buy a car, you need to have a good relationship with the seller. While you want to ensure that you are buying the right car for your needs, they also want to sell it at a fair price. The AA estimates that new cars can lose 40% their value within one year of purchase. Many buyers are turning to the used-car marketplace to find their next vehicle because of this staggering depreciation. Although used cars may initially be cheaper, there are potential problems with vehicles that have been in an accident.
There are some things you should look for when purchasing a used car. This will ensure that you get a good deal and a safe vehicle to use. You should be aware of the signs that your car is in need of repairs before you spend any money.
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Although it may not be your first question when purchasing a car, knowing if the vehicle has been in an accident could affect everything from insurance costs to the life expectancy of certain parts.
It is sometimes frustrating to find out if a car has been involved in an accident. This can be difficult for less experienced buyers. An unwitting eye can see through a well-polished exterior to hide all sorts of horrors!
No need to worry because at Check Reg you will be able to confirm and verify whether or not the car has been in an accident. To receive our free car inspection, all you need is the car’s registration plate. You can also pay a fee to get a detailed rundown of the vehicle’s history including any accidents and whether it has ever been written off.
When you purchase a used car, it is a contract of trust. However, you don’t have to believe everything they tell you! There are some things you can do to help you feel confident in your purchase, even if the used car dealer is reputable.
How do I know if the car I am considering buying was in an accident?
A car check is the best way to determine if a vehicle has been involved in an accident. You can be certain that any accidents in the past that led to insurance claims for the vehicle will be revealed by our premium report. Even if the seller was not aware!
This is especially helpful for older cars that have had a long ownership history and may have lost their paperwork. If you are familiar with what to look out for, there are some signs that a car has been in an accident. You should keep an eye on everything on the list. If neither the seller nor you can find the cause or repair, it’s time for you to move on!
Problems with the paint job
A vehicle’s paint or finish is not consistent. This can be a sign that it has been repaired. However, a poor-matched touch up will indicate that it was not fixed by a registered dealer. If your vehicle has a chrome or gloss finish, you will also be able see any dents or scrapes if you are looking at it from the right angle.
You can use a torch or your smartphone’s light to shine a flashlight along the car’s wing. Even the smallest imperfections will be visible as a reflection. This allows you to spot small scratches and scrapes that may otherwise go unnoticed.
Cracks and fillers
If a car is in an accident that causes damage to the bumper, the owner must immediately replace it. Bumpers are vital for reducing impact force. Cracks in the front and back of the car can cause more serious injuries in an accident. You should inspect the bumper for damage. Ask the seller if it looks damaged. If the bumper appears to have taken damage but has been repaired, you don’t know what else might be lurking.
Another sign that something is being repaired, but not replaced, is body filler products. These products are good for repairing non-structural damage. However, you need to mix them carefully and apply them with care. You don’t know how well a DIY repair will turn out.
If you don’t trust the seller and see repairs on a car, an online car check will give you an answer.
Parts that are not compatible
A sign that the bolts or hinges are not matching the rest of your vehicle’s can be an indication of damage. Bolts and hinges can wear over time and need to be replaced. Older cars may have newer bolts that indicate that they’ve been well maintained.
If the vehicle is just a few years old, or has no mismatches, it is worth looking a little deeper to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Registered service centres and garages use the same parts as the manufacturer. This means that glaring differences can often mean a less professional repair job. If you are noticing any differences in a used vehicle’s condition, it is worth checking that all repairs have been done to a high standard.
If the seller claims that a car has a complete manufacturer’s service history then you should be concerned about non-manufacturer components.
Poor tracking and uneven tire wear
An uneven tread does not necessarily mean that the tracking is wrong, but some accidents can cause tire damage. Also, poor repairs can lead to dangerous unevenness in your chassis that will wear one side out faster.
You can check the track by simply reversing the car without having to hold the wheel. This will ensure that the tracks are parallel and straight. Although minor tracking problems are not to be worried about, they can lead to more serious issues that will require attention.
A complete car service should include wheel alignment. If the seller has recently had their car serviced, it should not have any major issues, unless they tell you otherwise. If you are looking to fix minor tracking problems, a professional wheel alignment will be able to help.
Significant welding is the most obvious sign that a major accident has occurred to a vehicle. This isn’t always easy to spot and a seller might rely on your inability to see the evidence.
You should inspect a used vehicle before you buy it.
- The entire vehicle is visible from both the inside and outside.
- Under the Chassis
- Inside the engine bay
It doesn’t always mean that the car is in need of major repairs. If you have been told the car has had minimal work done, and there is evidence of something more serious, it is worth performing further inspections.
Airbags that have been used are an indicator of a car having been involved in a head-on crash. It is important to replace any airbags that have been damaged to make sure they are ready for deployment in the event of another accident.
However, it can be costly to replace the entire assembly and all associated electronics. Unscrupulous dealers or individuals might attempt to repair exterior damage but not replace the airbags. For your safety and security while driving, it is important to be sure that both airbags will deploy.
You should inspect the covers covering the airbags. This includes the area where the passenger airbag deploys. Avoid any cracks or parts that look older than the rest of your car if the seller attempts to convince you they have never been used.
You can quickly check if there are any problems with your car’s airbags by simply turning the car on. If all is well, the dashboard airbag light should briefly illuminate before going out. If the light does not come on after the first flash or remains illuminated, you will need to address the problem.
Online confirmation and checks
A car that has had many owners can only be inspected physically.
A vehicle inspection will reveal any accidents that have been reported and provide you with the MOT history. This can be used to identify any issues or reassure you that everything is in order.
An online inspection can confirm what the seller told you, or alert you to issues that they haven’t addressed. You will also find out if the vehicle has been towed, cloned or scrapped.
We get asked a lot of questions about the car’s history and how to find out the truth. This handy guide will help you ask the right questions when you buy a used car.
Is it possible to make a car road-legal even though it was written off as insurance?
- When the vehicle’s worth is less than its cost of repair, the insurance company will write it off. However, this does not necessarily mean that the car is irreparably damaged.
- There are many types of insurance writing-offs. These are used to determine if the vehicle can be driven again. A car check online will show you if a vehicle was ever written off, and which category it falls into.
- The vehicle is considered to be in irreparable damage and cannot be legally driven again. A category A writeoff means that the vehicle was so badly damaged that it is impossible to salvage any parts. You must have it scrapped.
- The vehicle’s damage is classified into the following categories: C, D and N. These categories can be written off and may allow the vehicle to be driven again, provided that it is in a roadworthy condition.
It’s possible to make a vehicle that has been written off road legal again if the proper procedures are followed.
These types of vehicles should be considered “buyer beware”. Your insurance company could charge more for a vehicle that has been written off. You may also be penalized if you fail or conceal an accident.
If there isn’t any visible damage, how can I determine the condition of a car?
It is not always easy to determine if the damage that you see was caused by an accident or normal wear and tear. A person selling a car that they aren’t the original owners might not know its full history.
A Free Vehicle Check can reveal a lot about the vehicle’s past that is impossible to see with a cursory inspection.
Our checks will tell you whether there have been accidents and confirm that the vehicle has had a clean service history.
- If the vehicle was ever stolen
- It was either imported from another country
- Any outstanding finance.
Even if one test returns a different result from what the seller promised, it should alarm bells. A price that seems too good to be true may be just that if you consider hidden repair costs and insurance increases due to past accidents.
Is it possible to get insurance for the car if it is damaged by an owner before?
If the vehicle has been properly repaired and documented by its owner, it doesn’t have to be considered worthless because of previous damage. Insurance companies will not pay for damage that occurred before you purchased the policy.
Your insurance company must be informed about any issues you have with your car or any accidents that you are aware of.
When you apply for car insurance, the insurers will conduct their own checks. This will help you avoid any unpleasant surprises. You will also be able to see any potential issues that could impact your premiums.
What can the seller tell me about past accidents?
Although the laws regarding what a seller must tell you about a car are not very clear, you are more protected if you purchase from a registered dealer than a private individual. Dealers and private individuals must inform you of any damage to your vehicle. Dealerships are required to perform certain checks before they sell it.
A private individual could claim that they didn’t know about the sign and weren’t familiar enough with cars to be able to see it in court. This defense is unlikely to apply to a dealership.
How can you determine if your car was in an accident?
A vehicle inspection will reveal any accidents or insurance claims and provide details about the MOT history.
We can’t give you details about accidents that were not reported to insurance companies, but any significant damage to the vehicle’s body or alteration should be documented in the service history.
If you notice any of these signs, and the seller insists that you are ignorant (and can’t locate any evidence of repairs), it is best to walk away from the sale before you put your money on the line.
How can I verify the car’s complete history?
This report will tell you whether the car was ever stolen, scrapped or written off. You can also find helpful information such as valuations and a comparison to the asking price.
If one in four checks uncovers something that a buyer requires, you need to consider whether it is worth taking the chance of not knowing.