Finding vehicle's accident details

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Mar 1, 2012
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754
I have been looking for a replacement vehicle. It's not urgent but just checking inventory. There are many vehicles with reported accidents and almost all claim it to be minor. Is there any way one can find out what type of accident it was and what was the cost of fixing it?

Carfax only shows the location of the accident, i.e. front, rear, sides, and if it was major or minor. I don't fully trust Carfax because my vehicle has been in a crash. The cost of fixing it was $6000, and its not on Carfax or Autocheck.

Thanks in advance.
 
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Just because your vehicle is not showing an accident on it's history report doesn't mean that it won't in the near future. It likely will eventually, but it can take some time.
A vehicle can get an accident report for the repair of very minor superficial bumper cover damage (very common), a dented fender, or a paint scratch, none of which will have any affect on its body integrity or useful life. Sometimes it can have an accident report even if the vehicle has never been damaged in an accident by having it's VIN appear on a police report, for example, if the car was burglarized. According to CarFax, 40% of vehicles on the road today have sustained some sort of damage, but only 16% have been involved in a significant accident (like what you are picturing in your mind).
Such a large percentage of used vehicles show at least one accident report on CarFax and/or AutoCheck that having one shouldn't be an automatic dissqualifier. On any vehicle that shows an accident report, I would have it professionally inspected before purchase. A good inspector can use a paint depth gauge to find out where any/all paint work has been done, will be able to spot any body work, assess how severe an accident was, and how good the body shop work was.
You are in an ideal situation for finding an inspector that knows what he/she is doing by taking your current vehicle to them and having them inspect it.
 
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They will often denote whether or not airbags deployed. If they did I’d pass on that one.

I too bought a vehicle with squeaky clean Carfax that had been significantly damaged. 😟
 
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Is there any way one can find out what type of accident it was and what was the cost of fixing it?
Running down the police report, but that may have minimal details and could be arduous to do on every car. Contact the previous owner but that's not often possible until after you buy it. Contacting the body shop that did the work will be nearly impossible unless it's a car from a small town and you can ask all the body shops if they repaired it.
 
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Ask for a pre purchase inspection and take it to a autobody place for inspection. They'll know and if they can't tell, how bad of an accident could it have been.

I purchased a vehicle with salvage title about 23 years ago. It was fine. Just because it was in an accident doesn't mean it wasn't repaired properly.
 
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Used car manager here, and CARFAX is the industry standard go to for crash records.
All depends on the reporting, if the repair facility doesn't log the repair, its like it didn't happen.
As mentioned, a pre-buy inspection is your best route to discover unreported crash damage.
I've seen it happen a few times where a vehicle comes in on trade, was branded as "salvage" on the CARFAX, and the previous dealer didn't disclose it.
Buyer could go back to that dealer and request a refund, and cancel the deal.
 
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They will often denote whether or not airbags deployed. If they did I’d pass on that one.

I too bought a vehicle with squeaky clean Carfax that had been significantly damaged. 😟
Just because the history reports are clean doesn't mean that a vehicle has not been in an accident.
25% of people whose vehicle has been in a significant accident will trade the vehicle in immediately after getting it back from the body shop, 4-6 months BEFORE an accident report shows-up on a history report. Furthermore, people trade-in vehicles with body damage all the time, and body repairs that the dealer did will not show-up on a history report. Anyone who is greatly concerned about purchasing a vehicle that has been in an accident should get a used vehicle professionally inspected before purchase, regardless of what is (or is not) showing on it's history reports.
 
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I have seen both. On my car I took it to a good body shop after an accident, insurance paid for the whole thing, nada on Carfax. My dad's car went to the same body shop, insurance paid for the whole thing, and Carfax said it was totaled when it wasn't.
 
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Carfax only shows the location of the accident, i.e. front, rear, sides, and if it was major or minor.
Go by whether they call it "major" or "minor". The cost of the repair isn't always a good indicator of the severity. A whole bunch of panels being damaged plus electronics (sensors), could have been repaired/replaced while the impact was still relatively minor.

Otherwise, you need to just skip any vehicle that's been reported as being in an accident.... Then you have a CarFax that is missing an accident (or two or three) for a vehicle.
 

MoneyJohn

Thread starter
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As and when I will buy the vehicle, I will take it to the body shop for a pre-purchase inspection. I noticed though many dealerships do not allow that (we tried this when my friend got a car last year, either it was because of the current situation). I thought of checking the accident history because I would like to save time if the accident is significant enough to ignore the car. Hence, I was trying to find this info.


@wag123 It's good that you are very optimistic. me, not so. The crash I was talking about happened in 2009. It's been exactly 13 years this month. The whole front had to be rebuilt. The damage was mostly exterior, no engine or frame was affected but the cost of fixing was $6000. The police report was made because someone aggressively pushed my wife out of the lane and she struck a street light pole.
 
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I will take it to the body shop for a pre-purchase inspection. I noticed though many dealerships do not allow that (we tried this when my friend got a car last year, either it was because of the current situation).
Unless the sales rep goes along on the ride, there's no need to tell them - just go to the body shop. I do think sellers were denying inspections (either mechanical or body) just to avoid dealing with "difficult" customers because they knew there were plenty of other potential customers lined up who had no interest in an inspection, so why not just take the easy sale ? If you were selling a car, a house, etc and had two buyers both willing to pay the same $$$ amount, while one wanted to have an inspection and one didn't, who you gonna deal with ?
 
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As and when I will buy the vehicle, I will take it to the body shop for a pre-purchase inspection. I noticed though many dealerships do not allow that (we tried this when my friend got a car last year, either it was because of the current situation). I thought of checking the accident history because I would like to save time if the accident is significant enough to ignore the car. Hence, I was trying to find this info.


@wag123 It's good that you are very optimistic. me, not so. The crash I was talking about happened in 2009. It's been exactly 13 years this month. The whole front had to be rebuilt. The damage was mostly exterior, no engine or frame was affected but the cost of fixing was $6000. The police report was made because someone aggressively pushed my wife out of the lane and she struck a street light pole.
History reports are a worthy extra tool, but not totally accurate. A professional inspection is the ONLY way that you are going to be able to find out if a vehicle has been in an accident or had any paint/body work done. If a dealer won't let you take a used vehicle for a professional inspection, my advice is to walk away, or, if you can have an inspection done without them knowing, do it that way. I realize that at times like we are currently experiencing, this could end-up being problematic. Alternatively, there are services that do mobile inspections. Some are good, and some are not so good.
You also might want to consider purchasing a paint thickness gauge. This will tell you if and where any paint work has been done on a vehicle. There are a LOT of them available for reasonable prices. Every used car appraiser and wholesale buyer has one of these. Using one of these, you can eliminate most unworthy vehicles on the spot.
 
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Every used car appraiser and wholesale buyer has one of these.
I remember when these things came out, maybe 10 or 15 years ago, and half the people buying at the auction had one and would quickly go over a car as it came through the lanes. I think that fad lasted maybe 2 or 3 years as I haven't seen anybody use one in years. I guess a Carfax on your phone replaced that, and most dealers can tell if a car has paintwork without it. If they miss one, the repair must so good that it doesn't really matter anyway.
 
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I remember when these things came out, maybe 10 or 15 years ago, and half the people buying at the auction had one and would quickly go over a car as it came through the lanes. I think that fad lasted maybe 2 or 3 years as I haven't seen anybody use one in years. I guess a Carfax on your phone replaced that, and most dealers can tell if a car has paintwork without it. If they miss one, the repair must so good that it doesn't really matter anyway.
They have been around for over 20 years and they still use them. They are even useful for experienced buyers/appraisers when there is an accident report on a vehicle and the repairs are not obvious. With 40% of the used vehicles having accident reports, these vehicles are unavoidable in the car business, especially in the last 1 1/2 years or so. Rejecting all vehicles with accident reports, like some dealers and dealer groups (like CarMax) used to do, is not a practical option right now. EVERY dealer has vehicles with accident reports on their lot.
 
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my understanding is rental cars are not reported as they have their own shops do it and self insure. so no need to make it public. best bet is to have it inspected by someone knowledgable

my friends girlfriend bought a rental forester from car max car fax was clean. when it showed up and i saw it. i could tell the bumper had been repainted. did not say anything though as not to make waves
 
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my understanding is rental cars are not reported as they have their own shops do it and self insure. so no need to make it public. best bet is to have it inspected by someone knowledgable

my friends girlfriend bought a rental forester from car max car fax was clean. when it showed up and i saw it. i could tell the bumper had been repainted. did not say anything though as not to make waves
Finding a used vehicle that has not had one or both bumpers repainted will be nearly impossible. Today's bumpers are very fragile and easily damaged. They are unsightly on an otherwise nice used vehicle.
 
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