We often hear from readers horrified to discover that their perfectly lovely used car was once another owner’s total loss. They only find out much later, once something goes horribly wrong due to the previous damage. But once the vehicle is all fixed up and shiny, how is the average car buyer to know the difference? It turns out that there are distinctive signs that a car was previously in a crash or flood. Some you might notice yourself, and others require a mechanic’s eye.
Our friends at Consumer Reports Cars give you the lowdown.
- Paint that chips off or doesn’t match indicates damage repair and poor blending.
- Paint overspray on chrome, trim, or rubber seals around body openings reveals that the adjacent panel was repaired.
- Misaligned fenders suggest a poor repair job or use of nonoriginal equipment manufacturer (non-OEM) parts.
- CAPA (Certified Automotive Parts Association) sticker on any part may indicate collision repair.
- Uneven tread wear reveals wheel misalignment, possibly because of frame damage.
- Mold or air freshener cover-up suggests water damage from a leak or flood.
- Silt in trunk may mean flood damage.
- Fresh undercoating on wheel wells, chassis, or engine strongly suggests recent structural repairs covered up.
- Door that doesn’t close correctly could point to a door-frame deformation and poor repair.
- Hood or trunk that doesn’t close squarely may indicate twisting from side impact.
For the rest of the signs, some which are more complex and perhaps better left to pros, check out the post over at Consumer Reports.
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