If you’re looking for a cheap used car, you’ll have great luck browsing repo inventory. Despite popular belief, repo cars, trucks and SUVs are often in good condition. Most need a good cleaning and some basic maintenance but that’s it!
However, it’s important to know that repos are sold as-is. They are priced just right, but you also inherit all of the problems. It’s not like shopping at a dealership where you can return the car if you don’t want or like it.
With this in mind, there are certain things you’ll want to watch for when shopping for repos. One of the most important is making sure the car wasn’t involved in an accident. Improper crash repair can affect the way the car drives.
Below are some signs that will help you determine if a repo vehicle has accident damage. If you spot these red flags, we recommend passing up the vehicle and looking at something else.
Most collision work involves some type of paintwork. Even the best paint jobs usually leave behind some signs. Start by looking at the colors, sheens and finishes. They should all match up.
Next, walk the length of the car and look at the reflections in the bodywork. Any waves or changes in luster may indicate that a panel was repainted. Also look for paint drips on panel edges or overspray on tailights, exhaust pipes and headlights.
Spacing Between Body Panels
Another thing to look for is inconsistent spacing between body panels. All gaps should be even throughout the vehicle. If you find that one gap between the door and body panel is not consistent with the others, it’s possible that there’s damage here. Of course, not all cars are perfect, but manufacturer defects should be subtle.
If possible, ask if you or the seller can drive the vehicle back and forth. This may not be possible with a repo, but it’s worth requesting. Watching the vehicle in motion lets you see if there is frame damage. Cars with this type of damage often drive sideways instead of forward.
If you’re not able to drive the car, get low to the ground and look for signs of “crabbing.” Crabbing is a sign of frame damage that happens when the front and back wheels don’t line up correctly. It typically comes from more serious accidents.
One of the first steps in repairing a wrecked car is adding a rubberized undercoat to the underbelly of the vehicle. This spray protects the car from salt, road grime and other contaminants. Even though it works great, be wary of why it’s there. Sometimes, people will apply a fresh coat to the underside to cover up recent damage.
Missing Fasteners and Rusty Screws
Having a few loose screws might not sound like a big deal, but it can indicate a larger problem. Loose screws, especially in the fender lines, means the car was involved in some rough road conditions. The screws might be missing because they no longer line up.
Look for missing or loose screws in the wheel well, along the frame of the engine bay and within door jams. Rusty screws are also a problem because they typically indicate that the car has been smacked around.
So what if you notice signs of damage? We recommend choosing a different vehicle for your own safety. But if you feel comfortable purchasing the car, you can always ask the seller for a discount. If you point out the areas of concern, they’ll probably be willing to work with you. For a full list of repossessions in your area, shop on RepoFinder.com today.