How to spot accident damage when shopping for a used car

If you're in the market for a used car, it's important that you do your research to not only save you money but also to not buy a car with safety issues related to an accident.

Take a look at the damage in both of these vehicles that they suffered during an accident.

The Lexus didn't have major damage, just about $1,300 worth of repairs.

Lexus / $1,300 worth of repairs

Lexus / $1,300 worth of repairs

The Jeep had significant damage with about $18,000 worth of repairs.

Jeep / $18,000 worth of repairs

Jeep / $18,000 worth of repairs

It didn't take long for repair shops to fix that damage.

"Although it looks shiny and new now to the untrained eye you would never know it had some type of damage event in its history. It is now worth less that what it was before it had that accident," said Emilie Voss with CARFAX. "You want to make sure any repairs that were done were done properly as otherwise, it could be a safety risk."

Before you put any money down on a used car, check out the vehicle's history. Take the car for a test drive, but also take it to a reputable mechanic for an independent inspection.

According to CARFAX, in the Raleigh/Durham area, there are about three million vehicles on the road that have some kind of accident or damage event in their history.

Their data goes on to state there are about 9.1 million vehicles on the roadways in North Carolina with accident damage.

If you buy a car that's been in an accident, and not repaired properly, it could mean safety problems.

Also, damage from an accident typically lowers the value of the car.

"It's not to say that a vehicle that has damage in its history is a bad thing, sometimes you can get a great deal on a vehicle, you just want to make sure you understand, you just don't want it to be a surprise," Voss said.

According to CARFAX, of all the vehicles for sale right now, about one in four have sustained damage.

The average impact on retail price is about $500, but that average impact on value jumps to $2,100 for a vehicle with severe damage in its past.

CARFAX has a free valuation tool, History-Based ValueHistory-Based Value, that looks at vehicle specific information for pricing, and it includes accidents as one of the many factors.

The Troubleshooter Takeaways when you're buying a used car are to make sure you get an independent vehicle inspection.

No matter what the sales rep tells you, take it to a reputable mechanic and have them thoroughly check it out. Next, take a look at the value of the vehicle, if it's been an accident, it's typically worth less, and so you should not be paying full value. Remember it's key to know the vehicle's history.
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