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Old 11-07-2019, 11:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Buying a car that's been in an accident

I'm car shopping for my wife right now, and we just went out to test-drive a 2014 Corolla. We both liked the car, it drives nice, it comes with a good service record, lower miles for its age...but it's got 2 damage incidents on the CarFax (Which the dealership was forthcoming about)

The first was rear bumper damage in 2015, the second was front center bumper in 2017. The bumpers both do look newer than the rest of the car, and the prices are in line with bumper replacements, but there's that big question mark.

That being said, the car is noticably cheaper than comparable examples, and it doesn't seem to have affected it at all.

Is it worth the risk, or should I move on?
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Old 11-07-2019, 11:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I would move on, without being able to verify the quality of the repair. If there was any structural damage that could be easily hidden by a new bumper, that car won’t handle its next accident so well.
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Old 11-07-2019, 11:54 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Cars are one thing, but definitely don't buy a used toilet seat that's been in an accident, definitely not from William the Third.

I would tend to agree with RuleOfSines, but also know the feeling of hoping to get a great deal, especially if there wasn't much actual damage. If you want to pursue it further - do you have any friends in collision repair? Someone who knows what to look for might be able to at least give you an idea of what damage may be hiding beneath the bumper. My brother does body work, and I've asked him stuff like that - he can usually pop a few clips in a matter of minutes and take a look at the pinch welds for cracks and deformation.
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Old 11-08-2019, 01:12 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Car fax will mark a car for a parking lot ding if people turn it into insurance. At the same time the car could be cut in half and welded back together if it’s done out of pocket it will have a clean car fax. I don’t trust it. The only thing it’s good for is saving insurance companies money. Because people will pay out of pocket not to have a car fax mark that brings down the value of there car. Most people wouldn’t even know there cars they are driving now have been repaired and in accidents.

I would be careful buying repaired cars especially if you don’t know what to look for. However you can save a bunch of money on cars with previous history small repaired. Just don’t buy salvage branded title cars that’s a nightmare.

Corolla are a pretty common car should be able to find a good deal on one that hasn’t been smashed up and put back together. Without looking at it and the knowledge to know what you are looking for I would stay away.
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Old 11-08-2019, 01:42 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainmaker View Post
Cars are one thing, but definitely don't buy a used toilet seat that's been in an accident, definitely not from William the Third.
Lulz!

See if you can find out who did the repairs and look up their rating. Bring someone unaffiliated to the shop that did the work, or take it to a different unaffiliated repair shop, and have them judge the repair work. See if you can get some before repair pictures to get an idea of the extent of the damage.
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Old 11-08-2019, 01:48 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Idiot Box View Post
Car fax will mark a car for a parking lot ding if people turn it into insurance. At the same time the car could be cut in half and welded back together if it’s done out of pocket it will have a clean car fax. I don’t trust it. The only thing it’s good for is saving insurance companies money. Because people will pay out of pocket not to have a car fax mark that brings down the value of there car. Most people wouldn’t even know there cars they are driving now have been repaired and in accidents.
I knew of someone who bought a cargo van that had a clean CarFax. At some point in the future they were doing something to it, and found sand/seashells in a location they had no reason to be, and then other evidence it had been underwater.
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Old 11-08-2019, 01:50 AM   #7 (permalink)
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You can't rely on car fax to do anything for you at all. It is a good base line but car fax isn't going to know when a car was clobbered on the street and repaired by joe's garage.

You should look at the car carefully. If you have a friend that knows his way around cars, ask him or her to come look for you.

Things to look for is ANY paint at all on the black rubber seals around doors and windows. Even good repairs will usually try to leave fixed side windows in place and you can find a little stripe of paint on the black rubber trim where it meets the painted part of the car. This is extremely common with cars that people are lying to you about.

If the car was in a little bumps where the bumpers were replaced, it should be fine.

If you were buying it directly from the person who replaced the bumpers and owned the car, that would be one thing. The dealer will blatantly lie to you and simply make up stories that sound good. You really can't trust a single word they say when it comes to things like this. They buy a lot of cars from auctions and have no idea wtf happened to them. They have their team shine them up. Dealerships know what to do to make a car pass all but the most intense scrutiny. They are wiley.

I have a car that was bought new and had a brief stop at a toyota dealership before it came to its second owner, and then my hands. I still find wiley things that the dealership did to make it pass 5 foot scrutiny. I would not buy a car that has been through a dealers hands (a second time) again, if it can be avoided at all.

I would buy "certified pre owned" because those are backed by the MFG.
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Last edited by Cunha; 11-08-2019 at 01:53 AM.
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Old 11-08-2019, 09:26 AM   #8 (permalink)
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paint and body work is expensive; so even a smaller collision in the bumper will bring you over a $500 deductible if it needs to be replaced and painted to match.

take it to a body shop and have them put it on a lift. they know what to look for and can even show you whats going on. it might cost $50 or $100 but would be worth it depending on the "deal" you are getting.

agreed, carfax gives a false sense of security as well as paranoia.
my 1st car had a clean carfax since i did all the work myself. (replaced blown engine and grenade'd transmission, wheel bearings after sliding into a curd, and countless body panels and hood as well as other stuff.) I enjoyed doing the work and was too poor a high school kid to pay someone.

ive also seen people go through insurance when they backed into a parking lot post and dented the plastic bumper. ive seen someone go through insurance when they hit a little pile of ice on the ground that cracked the splitter.

could be big, could be small. just take it to a place that knows what to look for.
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Old 11-08-2019, 09:47 AM   #9 (permalink)
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As has been said, carfax doesn't really mean squat. One of the easiest ways to tell what's been repaired/replaced on a vehicle is by the paint. If there's dirt in it, it's been repainted. Generally when parts are resprayed, just the really noticeable stuff gets buffed out, but usually you'll see little specks. In front, you should be able to see the frame rails somewhat. You can look for cracked paint to see if they've been bent before. Or, in areas where the parts meet, alot of times there's no access for a spot welder. Those are plug welded and ground, so you may see minor grinding marks or at least a lack of spot welds. You can check the same types of things in the rear by just lifting up the trunk mat, or crawling underneath.

You said the estimates matched a bumper job... What are the repair costs listed as?
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Old 11-08-2019, 10:55 AM   #10 (permalink)
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If it has a "salvage title" walk away, that means it was totaled by the insurance company after an accident and in some states you can not re-register/title even if it was worth having. Find out what types of accidents it had; hell it could have been a parking lot accident that was mostly cosmetic. Most people feel they have to claim everything on their insurance even when it is minor and most likely is little beyond deductible in cost to repair. Not all accidents are the death of the usability of a car. If in doubt I'd walk away.
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