To avoid regrets and conflicts arising from the purchase of an accident car, it is important to carry out a thorough analysis of the vehicle and its history. It’s time to let the Sherlock Holmes in you shine through, strictly following the ten steps we advise you to take to make a safer purchase, and we have divided the investigation into two fundamental areas: documentation and mechanics.
How to know if you’re going to buy a crashed car
Even before investigating the Rebuilt title vehicle, it is important to analyze all documents and information associated with them.
Search with a vehicle identification number (VIN)The VIN is a 17-digit code made up of numbers and letters, which allows you to know the country of origin of the car, factory where it was produced, year of production, model and engine type, among others. Use the VIN to do an online (free) search and find out about the vehicle’s chronological history, technical and equipment data, damage and collision records, actual mileage, photographs posted on sales websites, and registration in stolen vehicle databases.
Search through the Permanent Automobile Certificate
The Automobile Permanent Certificate contains updated data in real-time on the ownership of a vehicle, identification of the car and its owner and charges that exist on the vehicle, as well as pending orders. Valid for six months, it can be requested or consulted by any person or company. The simplest way to do this is via the internet, on the Automóvel Online website: the access code costs €10, the paper certificate costs €17, and must be requested at an IRN counter or a Citizen’s Shop.
Consult service book and periodic inspection records
These records reveal previous or even current vehicle problems. Although they may not be up to date or consistent with the condition of the car, they allow us to know something about service or maintenance, as well as whether the recommended inspections were carried out correctly and in an appropriate place. Inspection sheets reveal past vehicle problems.
Investigate car insurance
If the vehicle registration is registered and the registration is updated in the national database. You will be able to find out whether the vehicle is insured or not (not having it can indicate that it has been stopped for some time…) and, if so, access information about the insurance company, policy number, and start and end date of the insurance.
Everything was apparently ok with the documents; we moved on to the second phase, the inspection of the mechanics and the bodywork. Here, unless you are an expert in the field, we advise you to bring a mechanic with you. If you go alone, ask the seller about everything you consider relevant and investigate some specific points.
Inspect the chassis
First, check that the chassis number on the documents is the same as that on the identification plate on the vehicle and on the Documento Único Automóvel (booklet). Different numbers or with the appearance of having been tampered with, it may mean that the car was involved in a serious accident that required the replacement of the bodywork. Worse still, it could be a stolen car.
Look for the glass information.
Like the chassis, the glasses also have a serial number, in addition to the origin and manufacturer’s name. If the data on the car’s windows differ, it means that they have already been replaced, which can indicate accidental breakage, of course, but also that the car is crashed.
Check the paint
Take the car to a well-lit place and check for differences between the colors of all the panels. This is an important indicator of whether the vehicle has already been repaired due to an accident. Doors and bumpers are strategic points for detecting paint repairs. If the paint looks different to you somewhere, give that area a little tap. If the sound is different, plastic putty may have been used to correct the dent…
Look for uneven doors and other damage.
Confirm that the doors, bonnet, and luggage compartment are uneven. If there is, or if the doors do not open or close properly, it is almost certain that the car has been repaired and that it has most likely been involved in an accident. Hinges and hydraulics that are not original are suspect.
9. See the headlights and optics
Check that the optics are all the same and from the same manufacturer. When a car has an accident, it is common to change only the headlight or optics that were damaged. Broken or misaligned lights deserve a second look.
10. Take a test drive
Guiding the car, you intend to buy is essential. You should do this by paying attention to any noise or play, the most important noises coming from the suspensions. If you feel the steering is misaligned, demand that it be corrected before doing business. And if there is a need to make an exaggerated adjustment, be suspicious, as it is likely that the vehicle has already crashed.