Author Topic: Buying a car that's been in an accident  (Read 2905 times)

Hotstreak

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Buying a car that's been in an accident
« on: June 14, 2013, 11:03:56 PM »
I have a gut feeling my car may be on it's last leg, and I'm looking to buy a used one.  I love my compact car, but there's no room for camping equipment, furniture, or my friends.  I know there are a lot of people on this forum who have much more experience in car buying than I do, some of you even do it for money!  I'm hoping you can shed some light on the questions I have running through my head.

I'm looking at a few different small/mid sized hatchbacks and I've noticed that quite a few cars on the market (but not all), have been in some kind of accident.  How do you value this when determining an offer price?  If it was simple body damage, and has been repaired, do you forget about it?  Do you take some value off of blue book because it had a bumper, or headlight replaced, or at all due to the assumed damage a collision would have caused other parts of the vehicle?  What if it has salvaged title, but has been professionally repaired?

Two vehicles I'm looking at right now..

1) 2006 Pontiac Vibe, 110k miles.  This vehicle has been in two minor accidents, one backing up in to something that required replacing the rear bumper/light, and according to the owner there is a small outstanding rust spot.  I am going to see this in a few days(ps, we don't salt the roads around here, and rust is very rare).  The second accident involved hitting a 100lb animal, which required the replacement of the front headlight and some body work.  Otherwise the vehicle is in great condition, clean, just had serp belt done, good brakes/tires.  He's asking 5% above KBB for "good" condition and I planned to offer a little less than KBB.

2) A 2003 Mazda Protege5.  Nice sporty little thing, was totaled with what is described as rear side damage that did not effect driving, and has been repaired.  This one is priced high, but I may make an offer.  Does having a salvage automatically reduce a price significantly?  This has been on the market for a while, which might mean he's rejecting fair offers, or has had no bites, or something else.  I would be paying cash, so financing issues don't worry me.

Mustacians, enlighten me, what have your experiences been in this matter?



FYI:  I plan to finance this vehicle through a low interest credit line I have.  I have been paying off my student loan aggressively this year and it has a few thousand left, and I will instead make large payments to this loan, paying it off in less than a year.

hybrid

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Re: Buying a car that's been in an accident
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2013, 06:23:56 AM »
I've owned Mazdas for the past 22 years, and love, love, love them.  I have a Mazda 3 hatchback that is just plain the best damn car I've ever owned.  IMHO if the frame was not damaged on the Mazda Protégé you are looking at then the car is safe to purchase, and you should be able to lower your offer a bit as well.

My Mazda 3 has had two mishaps already.  First one where someone with a Lincoln Navigator inexplicably threw her LeBehemoth into reverse to ask someone for directions, and my four month old car was in her way.  7K of damage later....  Next time a big storm (the derecho of 2012 that affected VA and MD) threw a large tree limb through my windshield.  So I am on my third hood already (sigh).  If I were to sell my car?  Oh yeah, CarFax is going to have two big blemishes on the record and I can no longer expect to get the full valye.  The reality is my car runs like the day I pulled it out of the lot  (and now that I am biking and carpooling more I am putting less mileage on it).

In short, don't be scared off by some damage if it was the kind that is easily repaired, use it to your advantage if it wasn't too bad an accident (like mine).

Dee18

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Re: Buying a car that's been in an accident
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2013, 06:31:55 AM »
Be sure the frame is not bent.  Test drive on the highway to see that it will go straight on its own and check the tires for uneven wear. Also have a professional check to see that new parts were used in any mechanical repairs.  There is a lot of repair fraud.

Hotstreak

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Re: Buying a car that's been in an accident
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2013, 08:56:51 AM »
Thanks for the tips. I'm going to do a few comparison test drives at the dealership, and see the vehicles tomorrow. I'll definitely take my choice to a mechanic before buying.

BlueMR2

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Re: Buying a car that's been in an accident
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2013, 10:07:09 AM »
Be sure the frame is not bent.  Test drive on the highway to see that it will go straight on its own and check the tires for uneven wear. Also have a professional check to see that new parts were used in any mechanical repairs.  There is a lot of repair fraud.

Definitely this.  I have no fear whatsoever of a car simply because it was crashed and required frame repairs.  However, I have great fear of improperly done frame repairs.  :-)  The good news is that the guys that just slap them back together without proper repair don't tend to worry about things like the car actually driving straight, making those easier to weed out for consumers that pay attention to such things...