5 signs that a secondhand car has been in an accident

Buying a second hand car can be an economical decision, since you are getting a huge discount on the price of the car. The first owner has already took the depreciation hit and you can stand to get something relatively new at a lower price. 

However, there are still many car buyers out there who are very sceptical of second hand cars and would ‘die-die’ buy a brand new car. We understand the stigma - used cars can be a nightmare if the previous owner did not maintain it well. You will end up spending more money and the car will spend more time in the workshop than on the roads. 

Which is why a pre-purchase inspection is necessary to help you avoid such situations. 

Other than leaks and worn parts, a pre-purchase inspection can also help to identify if a car was involved in an accident, and that is one car you should definitely avoid buying, because the safety and roadworthiness of the car is affected. It is also difficult (and unethical) to re-sell the car to another buyer who is not aware of the accident. 

So how do you tell if a car has been involved in an accident? Here are some signs : 

1.Panel gaps

Cars that come out of the factory are almost perfect in terms of fit and finish. Quality assurance is essential in every production line to check that the cars are fit for customers. If a car has been involved in an accident, there could be gaps in between the panels of the car. Some of them may not even be aligned properly as a result of a shoddy and cheap repair. 

So if you notice a gap in between your car panels, which is so big you can stick your finger in it, then that is a sign that you may have a car which was involved in an accident.



2. Mismatched paint

Some cars come with a very specific paint color that is difficult to replicate by typical mom-and-pop stores. For example, BMW has a special paint called ‘pure metal silver’, which sounds pretty normal but is actually the most expensive paint BMW offers because of the prep-work required.

When you get such custom paint jobs done, getting a panel of the car fixed can be very difficult. When shoddy paint jobs are done to a car involved in an accident, it will show because the original paint and the new paint will not match exactly. 



3.     Replaced parts

As part of wear and tear, its perfectly normal for car parts to be replaced. And when cars get into an accident, parts get replaced too. This is a good sign for you, as this means that you have something to look out for. For example, a brand new part on an older and aged car would be something you would want to ask the seller about. 

4.     Car doesn't drive straight

If you are driving a car along the highway, and the car has a tendency to pull to the side and not maintain a straight track, then that is a sign the car’s alignment may be off due to a chassis damage. 

In the worst case scenario, the chassis can be so damaged and bent that it is impossible to be properly aligned, and is a vehicle that you should never buy. 

5.     Uneven tyre wear

Uneven tyre wear could be caused by faults in the braking system, wheel alignment and the car’s suspension.

If a damaged chassis is aligned to hide the issue, then it can also cause uneven tire wear since each tire would be experiencing a different amount of force as the car travels. As such, even if the chassis is not damaged, there can be underlying problems with the car that should be checked. 



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