Light Vehicle WIth A Broken WIndow

Market trends show that used car values have gone up; three years after purchase, cars are now worth 10% more than they used to be. Is it worth buying a rebuilt title car? There is a higher demand for pre-owned cars, but buying a vehicle that has been in an accident does raise some concerns.

Sometimes, the person selling the car might not know everything about its accident history or how severely it was damaged. Cars that have been in crashes can sometimes have problems that pop up later. This is why some buyers stay hesitant about buying refurbished cars that were once involved in an accident.

Despite these concerns, there are a few pros (and cons) of purchasing a car with accident history. 

Benefits of Buying a Used Car That Has Been in an Accident

You save money.

Once a vehicle has been through a crash, its value goes down, even if it has been fully repaired. Generally speaking, this depreciation means you can purchase the car at a lower price compared to a similar model with a clean history. According to Carfax, on average, if a used car has some damage, its price might be about $500 less than it would be without any damage; if there was a lot of damage, the reduction in its selling price averages around $2,100 less. 

You get better features for your budget.

Sometimes, when a car is repaired after the accident, it undergoes a few upgrades or customizations. The owner might have opted for higher-quality parts or added features that were not in the original vehicle. This means you may be able to afford a car with a higher-end model or elements than you had hoped for, i.e., you can get more bang for your buck in terms of amenities, performance, and comfort.

You have more room to negotiate.

The general perception is that a second-hand, post-accident car carries a certain level of risk, even after repairs, which directly affects its market value. You can use this history of accident(s) to strengthen your position while negotiating the price. Many sellers are willing to reduce the price further if you are knowledgeable about the car’s history and the extent of the repairs.

You can also consider having a professional inspection to uncover any underlying issues that may not be obvious. If the inspection reveals that there are still some unresolved issues, or the quality of the repair work was subpar, this can be a strong point for negotiating the price down.

Limitations of Buying a Pre-Owned Car with an Accident History

One of the major downsides is the diminished resale value. A car with an accident history generally has a lower resale value compared to a similar model without such a history. If you plan to sell the car in the future, this is something to think about. Beyond that, here are some other factors you may not have considered:

  • Accident-related damages can compromise the car’s frame, electrical systems, or other internal components – and this is not immediately apparent even with a thorough inspection. You may be forced to spend a small fortune on these repairs down the line.
  • Although professional repairs should restore the vehicle to its safe, pre-crash condition, this is not always the case, especially if the crash was catastrophic. 
  • If the accident causes extensive damage, the car will likely need more maintenance over time, making it more expensive to own in the long run.
  • Some insurance companies charge higher premiums for cars with an accident history as they are considered a higher risk. Similarly, some insurers are hesitant to offer full-coverage for a car that has been in a major wreck.
  • There is often a stigma attached to vehicles that crashed once. This can make it more difficult for you to sell it later as potential buyers might be skeptical about the vehicle’s history and condition.
  • For many buyers, the uncertainty of owning this kind of vehicle can be too much. Worrying about hidden damages, safety issues, and future resale value can detract from the enjoyment of having your own car.

Considerations When Buying a Car That Has Been in an Accident

Before you purchase it, find out exactly what happened. How bad was the accident? Was the insurance or law enforcement notified? Is it mentioned in the Carfax report? This will help you gauge the seriousness of the accident and make a more informed decision.

The next step is understanding the extent of the damage. Find out where the car was hit, the cost of repairs, and the type of repairs done. Also, check if there are any pending repairs. Knowing whether the car had any mechanical or body repairs or just minor cosmetic fixes is important. 

Crashed front end of a car

Reviewing these repair records can give you a clear picture of the damage and how they were addressed by the body shop. The car’s title is also a useful resource; it tells you if the car is considered “junk” or “salvage,” indicating serious past damage, or “rebuilt,” which means it was repaired after major damage.

Cars that have been in accidents generally lose value, as their structural strength might be less than a car that has never been in a collision. It does not matter how skilled the mechanic was, it would not change the fact that the car has been damaged. Compare its price with similar, non-accident cars in the market. If possible, find and compare it with other cars that have had accidents. Usually, a car with a crash history should be cheaper than a similar car without such a history, assuming all other aspects are similar.

Get in Touch With Our Car Accident Lawyers in California

If a car wreck results in someone getting injured, a key part of the case is figuring out who was at fault. Since California is an “at-fault” state, the person whose negligence caused the accident should be responsible in covering the costs of any damage and injuries. Now, let’s assume the accident happened because of a vehicle that was not in good condition. Who is at fault then?

If the owner of the vehicle knew it was not safe to drive and still used it, they could be held responsible. Similarly, if they were aware that the vehicle was poorly repaired and still had issues, but did nothing about it, this could be seen as negligence. At Maho Prentice, LLP, our car accident attorneys have protected the rights of people who have been injured in such circumstances for over two decades.

Whether it was you or a loved one who was injured due to someone’s negligence, we can help. Get strong legal representation from our personal injury lawyers so we can advocate for your rights and get you the largest possible compensation you rightfully deserve from all the liable parties. Call us at 805-962-1930 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. 

By Maho | Prentice, LLP Attorneys at Law on February 13, 2024