Previous accidents

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Updated: 3/28/2003 1:53 pm
When you're buying a pre-owned car, you should ask the seller for as much of the vehicle's previous history as possible. If the car has previously been damaged in an accident, this should be explained to you and any repair work done to the car shown to you, preferably with workshop receipts. Unfortunately, not everybody can be relied on to be scrupulous about providing you with an honest history of the car they're trying to sell you. For this reason, when you're inspecting the car, you should pay particular attention to any evidence that may indicate a previous accident, such as obvious bodywork or an area of the vehicle that's been repainted. You can use a small magnet to check for any well-concealed fiberglass bodywork. Look inside the hood, trunk and doors for any telltale indications that the vehicle has been repainted. Examine the underside of the car for any obvious damage or misalignment. If the vehicle has been involved in a previous accident you should have the wheel alignment and steering systems checked carefully for tracking faults as these can seriously affect the way the car handles and, at the very least, cause unnecessary wear to the tires. Uneven tire wear can indicate problems with the car's tracking, suspension, or steering system, and may also indicate that it's been previously damaged in an accident. A previously damaged vehicle may still be a reasonable purchase, as long as the damage has been fully repaired and documented, and the price of the vehicle is adjusted accordingly.

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