Buying a car is an exciting experience but can also be daunting if you don’t know what to look out for when making your choice.
An important risk to check for is whether a vehicle has previously been in an accident.
A damaged vehicle which has not been repaired properly can be unsafe to drive or may be worth less when you come to sell it.
So read our advice before choosing your second-hand vehicle.
How to tell if a vehicle has been in an accident
1. A vehicle history check
Make sure you choose a reputable dealer and ask if they will carry out a full vehicle check.
At Rockpoint, we offer the HPI check, widely considered the best in the UK.
It uses the registration number, chassis number (VIN) and logbook (V5C) details to throw up any issues with a car and its history such as its mileage, ownership and any outstanding finance.
It will also alert you to whether the car is an insurance write-off.
An insurance-write off happens when a car has suffered damage and the insurer considers the repairs to be uneconomical. The insurer keeps the car and pays the owner the car’s market value.
There are different categories of write-off from from A and B which must be destroyed to those in Category C or D, which can be repaired and put on the road again.
Here at Rockpoint, we would never sell a Cat C or Cat D car.
Some traders do but they are legally obliged to tell you if a car has previously been written-off while a private seller is not.
So, it’s always best to buy from a trusted dealer where possible.
2. Look for signs of paint work
One sign that a vehicle has been in an accident is paint work.
Make sure you examine the paintwork in the sun or under a bright light to check for body work repairs.
You are looking for inconsistencies such as differences in colour, shade, texture or shine between panels.
Look from different angles and distances.
Also check for paint over spray, where paint particles have settled on nearby parts, or signs of masking tape, used to prevent this.
3. Lacquer peeling
Car lacquer is a layer of clear coat which manufacturers apply over car paint to protect it.
It also gives a car its glossy appearance.
Damage to the car or a poor paint job can cause the lacquer to peel, which leaves the paintwork vulnerable and can be tricky to fix.
4. Panels not lined up correctly
Check panels when buying used cars
Uneven gaps between body panels and door gaps are another sign of accidental damage.
So, when looking around a vehicle, make sure to check the spacing and that the panels are lined up correctly and that the bumper sits flush.
If something doesn’t look right on one side compare it to the other side of the vehicle to see if it matches.
Check to see if bolts have been tampered with or scratched inside the car on the bonnet, door or boot hinges.
If they have then the parts have probably been replaced or readjusted.
6. Registration plates
Check to see if the front and rear number plates are different.
If one is much newer, it may have been replaced due to being damaged in an accident.
7. New parts
Check for obviously new or replaced parts. In an accident, it is often the airbag cover or the lights which are damaged, so inspect these.
Compare the headlights and taillights to see if one is obviously newer.
8. Moisture in headlights or taillights
If any lights have moisture inside then a corner could have been hit and cracked to let water inside.
A headlight can be costly to replace.
Buy from a trusted dealer where possible
Follow our tips when buying a used car and above all, remember to choose a reputable, trusted dealer like Rockpoint in Tamworth, Staffordshire.
Visit our website to see all the latest quality stock or call 01827 283496.
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