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How often have you stumbled upon a car of your choice in the second-hand market but turned away due to its damage history? Indeed, buying a used car with an accident history is understandably a little more contentious because even the dealer might not know the full extent of the car's damage history or how severe the reported damage was. This is the reason why customers tend to swerve around damaged cars while looking for used cars for sale.

However, a decent deal could be cracked by taking a closer look at these often ignored vehicles. A thorough investigation and checkup of used cars can reveal the depth of the damage incurred during the accident. And during this investigation, every little dent and scratch does matter. 

Accidents can leave cars with unpredictable consequences that could result in a safety hazard later on. And these consequences are sometimes invisible to the naked eye. For instance, a small dent on the rear end that left just a cosmetic imprint could actually have impacted the suspension of the car. These details should properly be assessed by a mechanic.

There is a lot of potential for a great deal while buying a damaged car, especially if the damage is minimal. The most significant benefit is the lower retail price. Used cars that have some amount of damage are on average 60 percent of the price of undamaged cars, even if the repairs are flawless. This is an excellent way to get way more for your money. 

Instead of a cheap economy car with no damages, you can get a rather luxurious one with minimal damages. However, it is not all smooth sailing once you buy it. Because of its accident history, the used car will further depreciate in value. So consider it no longer an asset. And damaged cars can also have hidden issues that might show up once you have clocked in a few hundred miles.

Below are some tips on how to evaluate a damaged car:

Do not get taken for a ride

Many private sellers or dealers will often try to take you on a drive with you in the passenger seat. This is done in order to disguise any possible accident damages to the powertrain. Instead, ask for a drive with you in the driving position.

Get a Vehicle History Report

This should be the first thing that comes to your mind before looking at a used car for sale. Demand for the full vehicle history report or get it from a service like CARFAX. The report will let you know everything from registration history to every accident the vehicle has been in. Along with this, the report will also mention any damage it has sustained and even any recalls that the particular make or model might have missed.

Be vigilant!

Keep an eye on the date of how many times and when the vehicle was sold. If the vehicle was sold shortly after an accident, it could be a red flag and a potential trap.

Get a professional inspection done

If you are not a certified car geek, leave the job of inspection and thorough checkup to the professionals. It is of paramount importance to get a trained and trusted mechanic on board before buying a used car with damages. Let the mechanic assess each and every component of the car before you take the keys.

Consider insurance costs before buying a used car

This trick could also help save future losses. In the United States, you will need car insurance before you can register the title ownership of a new or used car. So right before the purchase, do factor in how much money you might need to put in the vehicle. 

Assess whether the car has been in a minor accident with simple repairs or cosmetic damage that could easily be fixed at a local garage. Or a major accident that involved the totaling of the vehicle. Salvage title vehicles may also bring more to your financial constraints considering banks won't accept the auto insurance claim on such a severely damaged vehicle.

Assess if the vehicle is priced right considering its history

Once you have done your research on any damaged vehicle and are confident that the vehicle will do just fine. Consider that it will still likely not be as reliable as a vehicle that has not been in an accident. 

So while negotiating the price be sure to compare the damaged vehicle with other vehicles with clean titles. You shouldn't pay anywhere near to the clean vehicle for a salvaged or damaged vehicle. Some websites also offer services related to what you should pay for a used car, and using their services can help you to a lot of extent in determining the right price of that particular vehicle. 

Should you buy a car with an accident history?

The answer to this question depends on the level of risk you are willing to take. It is a high-risk high-reward situation. While a used and damaged car costs significantly less, one wrong interpretation and you could be looking at a failed powertrain or broken axle in a few months. 


A used vehicle is a smart and affordable option for purchasing a vehicle. But do not neglect the possible damages and repairs that could rack up the cost of running in the future. If you are considering getting the keys to a damaged used car, follow the steps mentioned above.

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