Get a SMS Quote
22 Nov 2013 | by Lisa Cockerill

How to determine if a vehicle has been in an accident

Buying a second hand vehicle is an exciting process. Even though the vehicle isn’t brand new from the showroom floor, it is still new to you.





Starting out on the hunt for the second hand vehicle usually begins with browsing online or jumping in the car and visiting the local dealerships.


It doesn’t usually take long to narrow down what you don’t like and within a couple of days you would have an idea of the make of vehicle that you are leaning towards, it is just a matter now of fitting in with your budget.


One of the most daunting things about buying second hand vehicles is that there is no trust in the market. You know that the person who is selling the vehicle will tell you just about anything to get the vehicle off their hands.


How do you determine if it is a good buy?


vehicle Pre-Purchase Inspection is always recommended if you are not car savvy or can ask a family member/friend who is. That way then you can see if there are any issues with the vehicle and negotiate the price down to compensate for their repairs.


No one wants to put their hand further into their pocket for more money on a car they have just brought, in what they thought was great condition.


One of the main things to look for that can cause problems down the track is if the vehicle has been in an accident.


Here are some of the things that indicate that the vehicle has been in more than a fender bender.



  • The colour of the whole car has been changed, sometimes more than once. It is expensive to change the colour of a car and they may not be changing it because they like the colour green. A great way to check if the colour has been changed it to check then engine bay and under the vehicle. Most vehicles will have the engine bay painted when they are resprayed but it is common for the underneath carriage to be the original colour.
  • Variances in the paint from panel to panel. It takes a professional to be able to colour match perfectly when respraying a panel that has been damaged or replaced. More often than not you will be able to tell if you are in the right light and angle to see the difference. Do not inspect a vehicle at night. Always find a time of day with the best possible lighting.
  • Look under the vehicle for evidence of overspray of undercoat. If there is spray under the vehicle of grey or black then you know that there have been paint repairs done to the vehicle.



Replaced parts


  • If a bonnet or boot of a vehicle has been replaced with a new aftermarket part, the replaced part would have been spray painted to the colour to match the rest of the vehicle. A lot of the time they will only spray the top of the boot or bonnet, leaving the underneath black. The original boot or bonnet would have the same colour on both the top and underneath of the boot or bonnet.
  • If you have the suspension replaced on only one side at the front of the vehicle, it is likely that it has been in an accident on that side. You wouldn’t replace the suspension on one side only unless there has been an impact making it unusable.


Other Indicators


  • When opening and closing the doors on the vehicle, take particular notice if the door doesn’t line up correctly with the frame when closing.
  • If there is any exposed wiring from under the dash or in the door trims ask questions immediately. Look for zip ties in the wiring, which is a sure indicator that something has been repaired and you need to check who has done the work.


PPSR/Car History Reports


The Car History Reports are a great tool to see if a vehicle has been reported having an accident. But that is the thing to keep in mind is that it has to be reported to the police/insurance companies to show up on this report.


Say for example the vehicle owner has an accident but never claims it through their insurance it will not have a record of this in the Car History Report. That is why looking for these key indicators is how you are going to be able to protect yourself from buying the unknown.


Note: If you do run one of these reports be sure to run it yourself. There is an option on these reports to un-tick the insurance box so any insurance claims do not come up on the report. It is known that car dealerships will leave this off the report if it is not in their favour.


It is still recommended to run this report, as there are other categories, which can save you money. These are financial encumbrances (Money Owing), Repairable write-off status and any Reported Stolen Status.


If in doubt, always engage a professional. It is better to spend a couple of hundred dollars and be certain than take the risk that could cost you thousands.


View All >>