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Is a used car better than one that's been repaired after a wreck?

My 2014 Lexus RX 350 (50,000 miles) was recently in an accident in which several air bags deployed and there was about $12000 worth of damage, mostly to the front end. Luckily, I was able to drive the car afterwards (50 miles, straight to the body shop). The other guy admitted fault and his insurance paid for the repair. But now I’m wondering whether I should trade it in on a “certified, pre-owned” 2014 RX 350. This trade would cost me about $10,000, but the pre-owned car has a 4 year, comprehensive warranty, about 15000 fewer miles, and has never been in a serious accident.

I wonder about the actual value of a repaired car vs a used one. For example, is a 3 year old air bag that has never been deployed (in the used car) a better bet than an air bag that was installed by the body shop? I suspect that most of the parts used in the repair are not OEM, but rather salvaged from other wrecks or manufactured by third parties.

What are your thoughts?

Talk about a question that has no answer. It could be yes or no depending entirely on the vehicles involved.

Second thought: you make this expensive trade and several months later someone crashes into you and you are right back where you started. I say just drive on.


IMHO a used car is always an unknown, and a late model used car always leaves me wondering why it’s back on the market. If the repairs to your car were properly made, the car should be fine. If you have reason to suspect that corners were cut, talk to your insurance agent. You do have the right to question the repairs.

As regards parts, in a car this new any parts used would have to be at least as new. Aftermarket parts, if they were used, are generally just as good as OEM parts.

In short, I think your risk would be bigger with a late model used car than with what you have. If you’re uncomfortable with what you have, I’d recommend considering trading for a new vehicle.

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If the car was fixed properly, I don’t understand why you’d want to get rid of it.

When I’m trying to sell a vehicle I bought used, and someone asks me if it was ever in an accident, I have to admit I bought it used, so I don’t know. Then I tell them the only way to ensure you are buying a quality used car is to have it thoroughly inspected by your mechanic, who you are paying to remove any conflict of interest. If you aren’t going to do that, you shouldn’t buy used, and if your mechanic doesn’t find any thing wrong, why would you care whether it was in an accident?

It’s actually pretty easy to spot a shoddy collision repair. The body panels don’t fit together properly, so the gaps between the panels won’t be uniform. If you know the signs, you don’t need an expert. If you don’t know the signs, you need to hire a professional who does.

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I go along with driving it. My daughter wrecked one of our cars about four years ago. Mrs JT drives it now. The front end was wiped out and a fender had to be replaced, along with the radiator, and some suspension parts. It runs fine now and my wife drives it everywhere.

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Don’t you already know the answer?
Assuming the vehicles are essentially similar in amenities, it’s basically costing you $10k for 15k miles. Seems to me the dealership has already discounted your vehicle for the loss of value…

Your car’s been repaired. Unless you have evidence that the repair wasn’t good and the car isn’t working right or is unsafe, it would be silly to spend $10,000 getting a used car, the history of which you do not know.

Probably not, assuming the body shop did their work competently, which they probably did. Airbags last a very long time.

What makes you suspect this?

I find it highly doubtful that the body shop would use anything but an OEM product for a safety system, because if it were to fail you would have grounds to sue them into oblivion.

Body panel? Sure, that might be 3rd party. Who cares, as long as it fits right and looks right.

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@Toyoda, with all the airbags that have been recalled due to safety issues, I’d rather have a car with new airbags in it than original airbags.

@Frailey, what insurance company and body shop are you patronizing that would allow your car to be fixed with used parts?

Most reputable shops and insurance companies dictate that used mechanical parts be sourced first. If they cannot find a suitable used part, then they pay for new.

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I wouldn’t be concerned unless mine were one of the cars on the recall list (I confess I have no idea if OP’s is one or not) and if it were, I’d have the recall performed and have new airbags either way.

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Mixed bag here, we had a van pushed onto a landscaping boulder by the back end of a fed ex truck, had repairs done and 2 months later the trans started leaking fluid, had to pay for a rebuild as it was denied as being accident related or it was after we signed off on it. first trip the rear window was covered with trans fluid, had the leak fixed 3 times under warranty after a rebuild and told sorry things just don’t line up right and traded it in.

Second experience a leased vehicle 2 months in rear ended, 2 or 3 grand in repairs, called the dealer to ask if this is considered at end of lease, dealer said on a lease, no but if you were trading it in yes, lucky you leased it. We have the buy out option, less inclined to consider it at the end of the lease but depending if nothing turns out in the next year, might consider it.

Thanks. I hadn’t thought about that, but it would surely be frustrating if I traded it in and then got into a wreck.

I forgot to mention that the used car would be coming off of a 3 year lease.

As to whether the repaired car was fixed properly, my main concerns have to do with all of the sensors and electronics and the air bags. There are all kinds of sensors in this car for being too close to other cars, blind spots, etc. and I don’t know how well a body shop can fix those things. After my wreck, they were all going off continuously.

I have the insurance company’s list of parts to be used for the repair. I went over it with them. It’s a long list. There are several categories, listed in order of relative cost (most to least):

  1. OEM parts from the manufacturer - very few of these were used.
  2. Parts from the manufacturer that are sold on the side without the official label because of oversupply. There were several of these parts used.
  3. Parts taken from other cars that were totalled in wrecks, but where this specific part was not harmed. There were a lot of these and both the body shop and the insurance company claim these are used a lot because they are readily available, made by the manufacturer, and a lot less expensive. Over half of the parts were in this category.
  4. Parts made by third parties. Very few of these were used - mainly when none of the above three is readily available.
    All parts are guaranteed by the body shop and the insurance company.

Also, the air bags on this car were never recalled and they worked perfectly in the accident.

I am OK with 1, and 3.

2 seems a little sketchy to me. The “oversupply” argument to me says “doesn’t meet manufacturer’s specs so we don’t sell it as branded”.

4, to me, is as good as 2 since aftermarket parts (3rd party) are made withOUT the manufacturer’s specs, only what they can copy. That doesn’t mean they are junk. With body panels, it usually means more work for the body man to make them fit properly.

Your insurance company has to return the car to the pre-accident condition. that’s the contract. If it all works as before, I think I’d keep it because a good repair is essentially as good as new

THIS is a problem, and not yours… this is the insurance companies problem.

“After my wreck, they were all going off continuously.”

I understand that to mean after the wreck, but before the vehicle was repaired

These need to be fixed, even if it needs to go to the dealer. Work with your insurance company. [quote=“Mustangman, post:16, topic:96758”]

2 seems a little sketchy to me. The “oversupply” argument to me says “doesn’t meet manufacturer’s specs so we don’t sell it as branded”.

I have mixed feelings on this one. I’ve always assumed (and it IS only an assumption) that meant that the manufacturer contracted for, say, 500,000 parts and only sold 300,000 cars and keeps 100,000 in dealers’ stocks (or the supply distribution system) selling the balance to an authorized retailer as “overstock parts”. I have no basis to actually know this, it was only and assumption. I can tell you that I’ve bought parts through the Toyotaoverstockparts website and gotten OEM parts. I know Lakeland Toyota sells “overstock parts”. They seem to have bought the rights to the Toyotaoverstockparts website just this past year. I don’t like the changes they’ve made to the site, but that’s life. :unamused:

Is an apple as good as an orange?

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You stated that the other driver was at fault. In some states you can be paid for diminished value in that your car is worth less than it was before the accident. Each state has different insurance laws. Google your state for diminished value and contact your agent