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Old 09-05-2010, 01:53 PM
 
Location: Mountains of middle TN
5,232 posts, read 13,556,847 times
Reputation: 6011

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I know exactly zero about cars. The ones we're driving now I"m sure were all wrecked. I know the Eclipse was. I've had two people get under it and tell me it was. The tires on the Miata and the Explorer both wear funny, even after an alignment, so I"m guessing they were as well.

I"m selling two of the cars and buying one for our daughter. We've decided to downsize to a 2 vehicle family since 99% of the time one sits in the driveway anyway. At some point I'll go get a Solstice or something I like, but for now, this is what we're doing.

So, as I go car shopping with daughter, is there an easy way - other than Carfax - to tell if a car has been wrecked? A way to make sure it's in decent shape - other than paying a mechanic to spend the day with us? Any helpful hints? She's hoping for a small SUV (Explorer Sport or CRV or Jeep Liberty size) or a coupe, but leaving toward the SUV. She said the Eclipse was too fast for her and she felt uncomfy in something so small.
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Old 09-05-2010, 02:13 PM
 
10,139 posts, read 22,414,398 times
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Any good mechanic or body shop guy will beable to spot significant wreckage. Carfax will report those wrecks where the title was transferred as a result of the wreck: auctions, insurance recovery, etc. But a car can be pretty badly wrecked with no Carfax info. Since you know nada, take it to a mechanic.
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Old 09-05-2010, 02:37 PM
 
Location: Mountains of middle TN
5,232 posts, read 13,556,847 times
Reputation: 6011
Quote:
Originally Posted by wilson1010 View Post
Any good mechanic or body shop guy will beable to spot significant wreckage. Carfax will report those wrecks where the title was transferred as a result of the wreck: auctions, insurance recovery, etc. But a car can be pretty badly wrecked with no Carfax info. Since you know nada, take it to a mechanic.
I was hoping it would be something simple I can spot. We're going to be looking at a ton of cars in the next couple weeks. My mechanic would be flooded by looking at them all. And easily 95% are going to be anywhere from an hour to two hours from where the mechanic is (we live smack dab in the middle of abso-freaking-lutely nowhere) so there's just no way we could get them all out there.
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Old 09-05-2010, 02:58 PM
 
Location: Dallas, TX
4,464 posts, read 9,634,495 times
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Overspray due to shoddy masking can sometimes indicate an accident, as can differences in paint on different panels. And in some cases you can just tell that something isn't "right" (like it being a little bent crooked, but only enough for you to get that feeling that something s a bit off.)
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Old 09-05-2010, 03:04 PM
 
Location: Say-Town! Texas
968 posts, read 2,099,286 times
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certified cars are a good thing to stick to, i had a roommate that everyone of his cars had been wrecked prior to his ownership. he also got great deals on them.

so buy certified from the brands dealership if prior wreckage concerns you.
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Old 09-05-2010, 03:26 PM
 
2,320 posts, read 5,868,306 times
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Used to be that headlights were built into the fenders. All you had to do is pull out the headlight and look inside the fender. If it has been wrecked, you will see dozens of welds and metal that has been pounded out. Also gap the fender looking for thicker areas of Bondo. Taking the car on the freeway will tell you if it was hit from the side because it will start shaking at 65. Body shops forget to change bent rims.
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Old 09-05-2010, 04:20 PM
 
10,139 posts, read 22,414,398 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrs1885 View Post
I was hoping it would be something simple I can spot. We're going to be looking at a ton of cars in the next couple weeks. My mechanic would be flooded by looking at them all. And easily 95% are going to be anywhere from an hour to two hours from where the mechanic is (we live smack dab in the middle of abso-freaking-lutely nowhere) so there's just no way we could get them all out there.
That is gonna be a problem. They mess up the cars so much in the factory its hard to tell. I have a G20 Cargo Van that has the gas filler tube from another truck welded in because they put the wrong one in at the factory. The area is all over-sprayed and weld marks and everything. So you can't tell for sure unless you an expert, but most sources say to look for spray paint on the rubber parts like the door moldings and window gaskets because those are put on the cars after the body is painted. And a repair shop should but usually does not remove the rubber to paint, they just mask it. A really expensive repair shop removes all that stuff, paints and puts in back.
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Old 09-05-2010, 04:23 PM
 
Location: Mountains of middle TN
5,232 posts, read 13,556,847 times
Reputation: 6011
Well, bummer. I guess we'll have to look for the obvious signs then and hope for the best!

Thanks all!
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Old 09-05-2010, 04:31 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,556,197 times
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The easiest way it to look for indicators that the car has been repainted. Here's how:

How to Tell If a Used Car Has Been Repainted by Detecting Paint Layers - Associated Content - associatedcontent.com

Stop by any body shop and ask someone there to show you an example on a repainted car. You can learn to walk through a lot and check a car a minute.
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Old 09-05-2010, 05:19 PM
 
Location: FLG/PHX/MKE
7,289 posts, read 12,872,496 times
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The obvious signs of crash repair are usually paint overspray, significant misalignment of body panels, and mismatched paint. Some shops that do rebuilding, won't bother to blend paint over different panels, so they can be easy to spot.

It's important to keep in mind that a repainted part doesn't mean the car was in a per se "crash". Plastic bumpers are frequently repainted when cars are offered for sale (especially nicer cars). They get scratched very easily. A replacement fender or repainted door may have been a result of a stray shopping cart, or it might have been only one of many parts that was replaced in a larger incident. My other half was unable to pilot a car for less than a year without causing some sort of minor damage to the paintwork. Nothing major, a fender here, a door dent there.

One other thing that often gives accident damage away is the plastic headlamps on cars. Plastic headlamps degrade over time, so an old car with perfect headlamps, or one old/one new looking one, merit closer inspection. That said, headlamps are sometimes so cheap to replace, people will replace them when they get old and yellowed.

Finally, it is very possible to repair and align body panels on a car so well that most people won't notice prior damage. If a car is repaired really well, it can be difficult to see prior damage. If the car was half-assed, then it will be obvious--if you know what to look for.
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