Three Signs a Used Car Has Been in an Accident

Unlike brand new vehicles, used cars have a history that you just can't always be certain of. Even with consumer information products like vehicle history reports and vehicle inspections, flaws can hide from your. Take a closer look at any car you are considering buying for these three signs that it has been involved in an accident.

Check the Airbag Light

When a car is in a serious accident, the airbags will deploy. Replacing used supplemental restraints is expensive. Some unscrupulous people take short cuts to refurbish used cars. It may not always be obvious at first glance, but you may be looking at a vehicle that has been tampered with. One quick way to see if there is anything suspicious is to test the function of the airbag indicator light on the instrument cluster. Simply cycle the key on. The computer control module will run the warning light through a test function. If everything is working properly, the light will come on momentarily and then switch off. A light that remains active is a sign that there is trouble with the air bags. Even worse, a light that doesn't come on at all has either burned out or been removed to hide the fact that there is a problem.

Signs of Paint Work

Paint can hide a lot of things. Sometimes the body of a vehicle is painted to replace the worn or faded layer of original paint. Other times, paint is applied after body work has been performed to correct damage. It takes a trained eye to spot high quality paint and body work. Those who cut corners leave clues.

Walk around the car and look to see if any of the body panels are slightly off in the coloring. Variations in the color shade will give away the location of repaired panels. Also run the tips of your fingers along the body of the car. Factory paint will feel smoother than cheap paint work.

Inspect the Fender Bolts

When a car is assembled at the factory, the paint is the last thing that goes on the body. That means that the bolts and screws that hold the major body panels together are painted along with the rest of the car. It is impossible to remove a fender or body panel without leaving marks along the fender panel bolts. Lift the hood and inspect for turned bolts. The paint around the bolts will look scratched or even torn. If a panel has been off, it is likely that it has been replaced or repaired in some way.

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