When buying used cars, it’s almost impossible to know the full story about what they have been through. They go through all kinds of different things on a daily basis, and as the years and miles rack up, the chances of accidental damage do, too. That’s why understanding how to tell if a car has been in an accident is more important than ever.
Aside from a vehicle inspection that tells you practically everything that you would want to know and spot all of these signs for you at a much deeper and more precise level, there are still some key signs to look for.
1. Colour Discrepancies
The largest and often easiest way to tell if a car has been in an accident is if the colours of the car aren’t consistent. Different shades, styles or different colours all together can be huge giveaways that the car has had some damage that has been repaired or hidden. That’s not a good sign.
The best way to find discrepancies in colouring again is without a doubt from a vehicle inspection. Inspectors have the tools to check this at a granular level. If you do try it yourself, however, make sure the car is in a well-lit location with enough natural light to be able to tell. Be thorough here.
2. Unusual Parts
As well as the car potentially not being the same colour throughout, another big giveaway that tells you that the car has experienced damage and even how badly in some cases is the condition or even the type of parts that are used to repair or replace them.
Bumpers, mirrors and doors are likely the most common examples of how to tell if a car has been in an accident, so check these areas first. It can happen to any area in reality though, including under the surface of the vehicle too. This is also a great time to check for out of place parts, including those that leave gaps or misalignments.
3. Cosmetic Issues
The one that goes without saying in our guide on spotting if a car has been in an accident is how the cosmetic of the car looks in general. Aside from the points above, things like scrapes and dents are the biggest problem areas you’ll likely find. In fact, these can even lead to a structural write off (cat s) if they haven’t been inspected or flagged already, so be cautious of that if the vehicle is due an MOT.
Again, you need to be really thorough if you’re going to check this one out on your own. Cars that are inside dealerships especially have unnatural lighting used to show them off, and a by-product of that is usually that dents are harder to spot. Even if you’re buying a car outside, try to pick times where it’s nice and bright outside.
4. Unnatural Welding
The last way that we’ll look at with how to tell if a car has been in an accident comes from a really thorough check-up. Make sure you’re again in a well-lit environment and are somewhere that you’re able to concentrate. This is where we get inside the car’s mechanics, after all.
Getting both under the bonnet and under the car if you can is the best way to go about it. If there is any welding present that doesn’t look quite right (or does look completely out of place), then there could well have been some repairs done to try and fix things up. This could have been by a mechanic if not an amateur at home pre-sale, so really do be cautious about this one. If the car is a cat S for example, the value might change drastically once someone finds out.
This isn’t even the half of it when it comes to spotting issues with cars. Accidents really do come in all shapes and sizes, and if you’re not familiar with cars or a professional that knows what to look for, it is much easier than you think to find yourself buying something that has had an accident in the past.
As always, the safest way to try and navigate the situation is with a vehicle inspection from a service like ourselves, but these are the bare minimums you need to be on the lookout for the next time you’re looking to buy.