Should You Buy a Car That's Been in an Accident?
In the days of CARFAX and Autocheck, it's easier than ever to tell if a vehicle you're considering was in an accident. For many shoppers, CARFAX and Autocheck mean a process that once meant visiting a skilled body shop can now be handled with the click of a button. What if that click reveals some bad news, such as past damage? Should you buy a car that's been in an accident? We have a few suggestions.
How Bad Was the Accident?
The first thing we'd do if we found an "accident car" is figure out how bad the accident was. Sometimes CARFAX will report this information. For example, I recently looked at a pickup for which CARFAX said: "Minor damage; vehicle was driven from the scene." That doesn't bother me so much, since it means the truck was probably only dented or scraped.
A CARFAX report that says "major damage" or notes a car was towed from the crash site is certainly a red flag. However, CARFAX isn't always accurate. Sometimes, a 4-car accident in which three cars sustain major damage can show up as "major damage" on the undamaged car's CARFAX report. Such errors are just a reality of the system. And that's why we recommend having a car inspected if you're even a little concerned about a bad CARFAX report. Read more about the Should You Buy a Car...