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The Used Car You Want Has Been in an Accident – Should You Buy it?

When you’re buying a used car, you likely have a good idea of how much you’re planning on spending. You might even know what kind of vehicle you’re looking for. And, like many used car shoppers, you could assume you want a vehicle that’s never been in an accident. So, what happens if you find the perfect car that fits your budget, but it happens to have some damage history?

Checking for damage

The first step to assessing whether a vehicle’s history is a deal-breaker is finding out about the damage and how well it was repaired. Get a CARFAX Canada Vehicle History Report (VHR) to learn about what has happened in the vehicle’s past – including damage, registration history, unfixed safety recalls, lien status and more, making it a key part of the Canadian used car buying and selling process. You need to know about the damage in order to assess whether it will impact the vehicle’s safety – and a big part of that is finding out how well it’s been repaired.

By getting a VHR and asking the seller for all the information available about the accident and repairs, you should have a great headstart to determine if the vehicle is safe. Take the vehicle, the VHR, and any anecdotal information you receive from the seller with you to a reputable, licensed mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection. This will help the mechanic focus on the areas that need it most. They will check out the whole vehicle, focusing on the areas that have been repaired, and let you know if it’s in good working order.

Using damage as an opportunity

If you’re one of the many used car buyers with luxury-brand taste on an economy-brand budget, finding damage in a vehicle’s history could be the opportunity you’ve been looking for. Damage history impacts vehicle value, even if the repairs were done perfectly. Just like anything you’d buy – think refurbished phone or laptop – a model that’s been damaged and repaired has a different value than one in its original condition. But, if the damage has been properly repaired by a reputable source, a vehicle that’s been in an accident can still be a great buy – and can allow you to get a better deal, and potentially into a more premium model than you could have afforded otherwise.

Remember that damage history impacts value, so even if the vehicle has been properly repaired you can likely use this as leverage in your price negotiations.

For more information to help you buy a used car with confidence, check out CARFAX Canada’s free Used Car Buying Guide.