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Buying a new car, previously damaged

I’m looking into buying a car right now. I found a pretty good one, but it has gotten in a pretty bad wreck. Even though it has been fixed and looks great, I’m afraid the structure and alignment might not be just right anymore, and that could mess with the car. Is that a legitimate fear? If it is, is there any place that would check for something like that?


A well-established body shop that uses a laser frame alignment machine would be the best bet but I have no idea what kind of fee they would charge for this service.
A visual inspection of the floor pan underneath, the subframes, and strut towers for any paint or undercoat cracking is also a good idea as that can be a sign of major, and unrepaired, damage.

If you want to do a quick test to get a rough feel for the car you could do this yourself.
With the wheels straight ahead take a tape measure and measure from the back of the front wheel rim (not the tire) to the front of the back wheel rim on one side. Repeat this on the other side. The measurements should be very close to each other.
If there’s a 1/2" difference or whatever then it’s time to back off from this car.

The car is 6 years old and one that has been hit hard should not have a premium price attached to it. Verify whether this car has been issued a Salvage Title or not because hard hits and a ST should mean a very deep discount on the price. Hope that helps.

With the quantity of used cars on the market–including lots of Corollas–I have to wonder why you would be interested in one that has been in “a pretty bad wreck”. Unless it is being offered for thousands of dollars less than the prevailing price for comparable 2005 Corollas in your area, I would suggest walking away.

And, even if it is being offered for substantially less cost than other, similar Corollas, you would need to have the car checked by both a mechanic and a reputable body shop, in order to detect mechanical problems and possible chassis damage issues. It is not unheard-of for cars to “crab-walk” as a result of chassis damage, so issues like that need to be detected prior to purchase.

Used cars are like commuter buses. If you fail to get one, another one will be along shortly.

Not all body shops do great work. You can have a body shop inspect the car to determine if the repair was a good job, or a quickie patch job. They can also check for frame alignment.

If you buy it and all goes well, over time you can expect the paint on the repaired area to deteriorate faster than the areas still with factory paint. This means the car which looks good now, might not look as good in 5 or 10 years. The fix then is to repaint the entire car.

All this means the damaged car should sell at a good discount from other Corollas with similar features and miles on the odometer.

I think this is one of those “deals” that’s no deal at all. I recommend walking away from this purchase.

Your fears are quite valid. If the title is salvage run unless it is 1/4 of book value.

I agree. Not worth the risk, and almost certainly not priced correctly for that wreck.

Buying Any Used Car Has An Element Of Risk To It. Buying A Repaired Wreck, Even A “New Car” Wreck, Has Risk Attached, But Buying A Used Repaired Wreck Is Like Kissing Your Sister.