When you need to buy a vehicle, perusing the used market can be a cost-effective choice. While it's generally a good idea to frequent reputable car dealerships that also sell certified used vehicles, you might be tempted to look for a deal in the online classifieds. There are certainly deals to be had of this nature, but you need to be sure that the vehicle you're considering buying hasn't been in an accident. Vehicles that have been banged up can have a variety of issues that will prove to be costly. The seller may not divulge the car's accident history, but you can identify some clues that suggest it has indeed been in a collision. Here are some clues.
A Body Panel Has a Different Inside Color
An easy way to discern that a used car has been repaired after an accident is that it has one or more body panels that are painted a different color on the inside. Open the trunk, for example. If the trunk is white on the outside to match the car but green on the inside, this is a sign that the car's original trunk was damaged and that the owner bought a used trunk, had it painted white, and installed it. If you get a flashlight, you can get below the car and check the color on the inside of the quarter panels, too.
There's a Suspicious Area in the Car's Finish
Have the seller move the car outside (if it's inside) so that you can carefully inspect it in the natural light. Look meticulously along the body panels of the car. You may see small dents caused by doors of other vehicles, but what you're looking for is any suspicious areas in which the paint doesn't seem to exactly match the rest of the paint or the paint has a different texture. This could indicate that there was a major dent that someone filled and repainted, and is a likely sign that the vehicle has been damaged in an accident.
There Are Uneven Areas Between Body Panels
When you gently run your hand over the small gap between two body panels, such as between the front quarter panel and the hood, the transition should be smooth. If one panel is notably higher or lower than the other, it may suggest that the car has been in a collision. Even a minor fender bender will jostle the panels in this manner.
If you notice any of the above issues, it's best to give up on the used vehicle in question and keep looking. Talk to a used car dealer near you for more advice on finding the right car for you.