Buying A Car That Was In An Accident? Here Are Three Things You Need To Look Out For To Avoid Getting Stuck With A Lemon
Just because a car was in an accident doesn't mean it isn't worth buying. In fact, you can sometimes find great deals on cars that were previously wrecked, even if they were fully repaired and restored. The trick is being able to differentiate between the lemons and the gems.
The first thing you should do is obtain a comprehensive vehicle history report so you know exactly what sort of damage occurred. That will help you thoroughly inspect the vehicle and know what to look for during a test drive. You should also take the car to a reputable mechanic and auto body shop so that experienced technicians can go over the vehicle with a fine-tooth comb and ensure there are no issues hidden beneath the surface.
Make Sure the Drivetrain Drives Like It Should
If the car you're considering suffered engine or transmission damage, ask the seller for receipts to ensure all the mechanical components were replaced with quality parts by a reputable mechanic. When you check the car out in person, pop the hood and closely examine the engine and transmission to ensure there are no damaged components, leaking fluids, or other reliability issues.
If everything looks good on the surface, take the car on a long test drive. When it's safe to do so, push the engine to its rpm redline at full throttle. That will put a proper amount of stress on the drivetrain and help bring any drivability issues to the surface. Once you're finished with your drive, inspect the drivetrain again for leaking fluids — a dishonest seller may have cleaned up stray fluids before your inspection, but pushing the engine to its redline should bring out any leaks that are occurring. Also be aware of any burning or chemical smells originating from the drivetrain components.
Note that some drivetrain issues won't reveal themselves during a single test drive. That's why you should take the car to a reputable mechanic before you purchase it. A mechanic shop can perform more thorough inspections such as a leak-down and compression tests to ensure the engine's internals are working properly.
Watch out for Sloppy Cosmetic Work
You also need to make sure the car's exterior was properly repaired. If cheap paint was used on replacement body panels, the color may not perfectly match the original color of the car. Cheap paint can also develop a bumpy texture known as orange peel. Carefully examine the exterior in a brightly-lit environment so you can properly see if there are any issues with the paint.
In addition to the paint, carefully check out the fit of the body panels. Make sure there are no excessive gaps between any panels, and give the panels a firm shake to ensure they are solidly attached.
Have the Chassis Checked Out
The car's chassis is even more important than its exterior. Essentially, the chassis is the skeleton of the car. If any chassis components are bent or otherwise damaged, the car may not drive properly. Furthermore, a damaged chassis can compromise the structural integrity of the car, meaning it won't be safe if you happen to be in an accident.
Properly inspecting the chassis is an extensive job. To get to the chassis, you'll have to remove exterior body panels, suspension components, drivetrain parts, and interior panels. Because of the dangers involved in owning a car with structural damage, you should have a reputable auto body shop, such as Rocky Mountain Collision of Sandy, inspect the chassis before you buy the car. That way they can perform a thorough inspection to ensure the car you're buying doesn't have any broken bones in its skeleton.
If all of your driving tests and inspections go well, you can rest assured that your new car's previous accident didn't turn it into an unsafe lemon. Even so, you can still use the car's accident history as a bargaining chip when it comes time to negotiate the purchase price.