Should You Buy a Used Car That’s Been in an Accident?

Picture this: You’ve just found the used car that all of your automotive dreams are made of. It’s the right model, the right model year, has all of the interior and exterior amenities that you’re after, and the price of it just speaks to you. But… There’s a but? Yes, because as it turns out, the used car that you’ve got your heart set on has previously been in an accident. So, what do you do next?

A used car after an accident
A used car after an accident | Joan Slatkin/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Reasons to buy a used car that’s been in an accident

If you’re the kind of used car buyer that hears the word accident and can’t help but to cringe, then maybe buying a used car that’s been in an accident isn’t for you. Though, when it comes to purchasing a used car, it does pay to be open-minded. 

According to Carfax, 40% of vehicles on the road today have sustained some sort of damage, which means that around 110 million cars in the U.S. are on the road and have been in some kind of scuffle. Carfax added that at least 5% of those vehicles had an airbag deployment too, which is equivalent to more than 5 million cars. 

Buying a used car that’s been in an accident can save you money, though. According to Carfax, you can expect to pay $500 less for a used car that’s been in an accident. If you decide to buy a used car that’s been in an accident, be sure to confirm its title status, who did the repairs, and whether the car needs any additional work.

Reasons not to buy a used car that’s been in an accident

Because it’s been in an accident, obviously. There’s more to it than that too. The case against buying a used car that’s been in a crash is a pretty strong one. According to Autotrader, the main reason to avoid a used car that’s been involved in an accident is that accidents can cause long-lasting damage. Autotrader explained further that in some cases, that damage could cause additional problems down the road, even if the car has been repaired. 

Repair quality isn’t always perfect either. Repairing a car after it’s been in an accident is difficult. While some shops take great care to repair the vehicles customers have brought to them, some shops focus less on quality and more on getting the car “fixed” as quickly as possible. 

Tips for buying a damaged used car

If you do decide to buy a used car that’s been in an accident, there are several things that you should keep in mind. First things first pull the car’s vehicle history report. That report will give you a good understanding of the vehicle’s overall history, and accord to U.S. News & World Report will give you the inside scoop on the vehicle’s title. And if it’s a salvage title? U.S. News & World Report says steer clear.

It’s essential to understand who fixed the car too. As mentioned before, not all mechanics do great work. You’ll want to grab the name of the repair shop that fixed the vehicle and get an understanding of the kind of work they do. Are they reputable? Trustworthy? Consider enlisting the assistance of another trusted mechanic to assess the repair quality too.

Consider how much the car is being sold for too. Does the price make sense for a used car that’s been in an accident? If Carfax is to be believed, you should be paying less, not more, for a used car that’s previously been involved in a car accident.


10 Signs That a Used Car Has Been in an Accident

Is buying a car that’s been in an accident a bad idea?

In the end, buying a car that’s been in an accident is a decision you’ll have to make for yourself. If you want to save money and don’t mind the possibility of shoddy repair work, then it might not be just a bad idea. But if it’s a quality used car that you’re after? Steer clear.