Damage on Used Cars: Major Problems to Avoid

January 27, 2012

When shopping for a used car you are bound to see dozens of vehicles in a wide variety of conditions, so what damage should you avoid on a used car? Some vehicle damage just isn’t worth the headache it is bound to bring you, but how can you tell what type of damage you should avoid at all costs? Hopefully we can help.

Storm, hurricane or flood damage is the first problem you should always avoid if possible. When a hurricane strikes a city dozens of dealerships can wind up with storm-damaged vehicles. Vehicles that suffer more than 60% of their value in damage are supposed to be categorized as totaled, but many dealerships will replace upholstery or repairs dents on their own and then ship the cars off as quickly as possible to other dealers at auction hoping someone else inherits their problems. So why should you avoid storm damaged vehicles or cars you suspect may have flood damage? The simplest answer is because the buyer has no clue to the extent of damage. There is no record of repairs and you have no idea what problems you experience down the road. Plus you are buying a vehicle that should have totaled and wasn’t.

Rust damage is another thing you should be wary of when purchasing a used vehicle. If you can see rust damage you can be certain there is a lot more you cannot see. Dealers go to great efforts to hide whatever rust they can find on cars and simple surface rust is extremely easy to repair and hide but what you cannot see is what you should be worried about. You can check for rust in wheel wells, on the frame and in the door panels. If you find any rust you should be extremely wary.

Salvage cars are another type of vehicle buyers should be extremely cautious about. Body shops and dealers have become quite accomplished at hiding crash and collision damage. If the vehicle has damage that has been salvaged there may in fact be more damage that was covered up at some point during the repair process. Salvaged titles should be a big cause of concern for a variety of reasons and are often best left alone. If you are suspicious about the history of the vehicle look at the bolts to see if the paint is chipped or loose, if so there could have been replacement parts added at some point and you should question the condition of the vehicle.

Hopefully you won’t ever need to consider any of these factors when buying a used car but it is always best to be aware of what potential problems you can face. Protecting yourself is always the best idea as many dealerships and private parties will only be concerned about selling their car for the best price. With a little bit of patience and care you can find a vehicle that is right for you.