Are you buying a used car that has been in an accident?

Are you buying a used car that has been in an accident?

One of the serious risk while buying a used car is buying a car with accident history.

Cars in a accident collisionWhat happens to the car if it is met with an accident?

Are all types of accidents same?

What is the impact on resale value?

How do you identify the accident?

Should you buy a car that has been in an accident?

Most of the modern cars are built on unibody structure (monocoque body) that means body itself acts as frame and supports the entire car unibody framecar. The integral components of the structure are Apron, A, B, C Pillars, front cross members, quarter panels and dicky floor. The unibody design also has inbuilt crumple zones (or soft zones) that absorb the impact if the collision.

So, when a car is met with a major accident, the structural integrity is compromised and its capability to withstand another impact is weakened and potentially the car could behave erratic while on the road.

However, not all accidents are same, they are categorized in to minor and major accidents. Minor accidents could be damage to headlights, bumpers, minor to major dents on door panels, but, no damage to the frame.

In major accidents the structural components of the car get impacted, compromising the structural integrity of the vehicle.

Impact on resale value

The resale value is impacted based on how bad is the damage. If it is minor damage, the impact is to the extent the repairs need to be done. However, if the car’s structure is damaged it could seriously impact the resale value as most of the certified dealers and consumers looking for good vehicles will completely avoid such vehicles.

Even when the car’s frame is not damaged, certain damages like change of bonnet or dicky door would impact the resale value downwards, as the car potentially could have been in a frontal collision or has been involved in a chain accident.

How to identify if the car has been in an accident

For an untrained eye it would be difficult to identify an accident. The best thing to do is get it inspected by a trained technician, who has ability to identify the damage and the nature of damage.

Some common methods used by experts to identify an accident are as follows:frame damage inspection

Check for Insurance Claim: In the insurance policy check whether no claim bonus is less than the prescribed percentage. If so, insurance claim has been taken on the car. Check the service records of the car, the nature and extent of repair performed.

 Visual Inspection: Includes inspection for shade mismatch, paint over flow, peel off, uneven or rippled body line, too wide or too narrow gaps between panels, etc.

Inspection for damaged / repaired seals of body panels and frame: Once it is identified that paint work is done, you need to inspect for original seals of body panels (doors, bonnet and dicky).

In case the original seals are damaged or repaired the panel (s) are replaced, it is a clear indication that the car has been in major accident. You must then thoroughly look for any repair done in the frame of the car.

Should you buy a car that has been in an accident?

Cars with only paint work: Most of the cars on the Indian roads tend to get minor dents and scratches, due to traffic conditions. Paint work is done on such vehicles either by owners or by the selling dealers to enhance the aesthetics. These vehicles are non-accidental and are safe to buy, however, you need to check for the quality of paint work performed. If these are bubbles, paint over flow, paint mismatch or poor quality paint, such panels need to be repainted before you buy it. The resale value of the car also is not impacted if you buy this car.

Cars where panels are replaced but no frame damage: Sometimes door panels are changed due to side collision, or bonnet / dicky changed due to a minor frontal or rear collision, without any damage to the frame. The resale value of these cars reduces, but, they are safe to buy.

If there are more than 2 panels are changed, better to avoid such a car, as you may not find a buyer quickly willing to purchase when you go to sell it.

Cars with frame damage: As explained above, frame damage impacts the structural integrity of the car and becomes unsafe to drive. You should completely avoid such cars. If the car has few seals repaired and rest if the car is intact and you are getting it at a great price bargain, you may like to evaluate the option.

Further Readings:

http://www.carlawfirm.com/what-is-frame-car-damage

http://www.autotrader.com/car-tips/should-you-buy-a-car-thats-been-in-an-accident-210714