How do I know if a used car has been in an accident?

Looking to buy a used car? Want to make sure you’re not signing up for more headaches? Here are a few ways you tell if a used car you’re interested in has been in an accident: 

Look for the obvious.

It’s easiest to look for obvious signs the car has been in an accident– mismatched paint, a panel that looks a lot newer than the rest, two different mirrors, a missing grill, dents, and other obvious signs of previous damage.

If you can, you should also request a test drive. This way you’ll be able to see, hear, and feel for any internal problems and, perhaps more importantly, you’ll be able to gauge how comfortable you are driving it. Unfortunately, it’s not always so easy…

Show me the CarFax.

If you’re at used-car lot and want to know the history of a particular vehicle right then, just ask for a report. Almost all dealers have vehicle history report subscriptions, usually for either AutoCheck or Carfax, and many will run a free report for truly interested buyers. You can also find many of vehicles on Edmunds’ used-car inventory page or on the dealerships’ websites. If a salesperson refuses to run a vehicle history report, or provides an outdated report, that’s a huge red flag.

If you’re shopping for a used car on the private market, or from an individual, the reports from the biggest players like Carfax can be expensive, ranging from $40 for one or $100 for multiple reports.

Keep in mind that car reports are only as good as the incidents that have been documented– and a vehicle could have damage and you would not know it by just reading the report. While no report is perfect, it’s a good idea to run a vehicle history report before putting any money down.

Ask a professional.

Before you sign the paperwork or cut a check, have a trusted mechanic examine the vehicle. Ask them to look for any underlying issues and estimate the cost of necessary repairs or replacements that will need to be made soon after purchase. It’s also a good idea to check the vehicle history report and look for any red flags.

Most used car dealerships will be upfront about any services that need to be done; some will even preemptively do them (or at least perform an analysis) knowing that a car sells better when it runs more efficiently– and when the customer knows exactly what they’re getting.

At V&F

V&F Auto Sales has been serving the Western Mass community since 1988. We strive to provide our customers with top quality, affordable vehicle inventory and convenient financing options so you can get the car you love– without breaking the bank. View a complete list of our inventory on our website, or visit us at 7 Harding St, Agawam, MA 01001.

Written by Nicole Palange

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