Background: My family and I are looking to buy another car and a broker found a 2005 Ford Focus that has good mileage, price, and features. Unfortunately, it has an accident in its past. The title is still clean and he says the frame was not bent/still meets factory specifications, but the bumper, hood, and wheel well all had to be repaired or replaced.
My questions are:
- Should the accident rule the car out as a prospective candidate or is the damage described the kind that can be repaired safely?
- I would like to take the car to a body shop and a mechanic for inspections. Is there any reason I should not do this? If they tell me I cannot take it for inspections, should I walk away?
If they won’t let you inspect ANY car, not just this one, don’t walk away…run. Get away fast. Anyone who’s not trying to hide something from you would be willing to let you get it inspected (they may want to stay with the car, but I think that’s fair).
I’ll let others talk about accident vehicles. I tend to shy away from them, but it’s more a feeling for me than anything else. There are too many around that haven’t been wrecked for me to mess with one that has. Just my $.02.
Don’t Start Out With A “New” (Pre-Owned) Car Having Doubts Or Questioning The Deal. Pass And Find One That Hasn’t Been Crashed. I Buy Pre-Owned Cars And That’s What I Do.
I managed a body shop years ago and I still know what I’m looking at, usually. However I won’t buy a crashed car unless the damage was extremely minor and there is written record of the repairs.
These cars don’t have frames. Based just on your description of the damage, I’d say chances are good that the front part of the unibody was tweaked a bit and had to have bumper reinforcements straightened or replaced.
My advice is to walk away and you’ll be happier.
If they won’t let you take the vehicle to a mechanic for inspection…then they’re hiding something…And I’d tell them to their face…NEVER buy a used vehicle unless you have it inspected from a trusted mechanic…OR you personally know the history of the vehicle (i.e. Relative, friend).
If they won’t allow an inspection, walk away. The broker is also not a mechanic or body man so you might ask him where he gets his info from.
He states to you that the damage is comparatively minor and the frame (misnomer) is actually subframes and a unibody and that it is not bent and still meets factory specifications.
Ask him to show you the printout from the Chief Laser alignment rack (or whichever brand the body shop uses) to back the factory specs statement up. Odds are you will get a few back and forth movements of the eyeballs and a story…
The bumper and hood is one thing; the wheel well damage could point to some serious problems.
A few years ago my youngest son lost his Camaro in an accident (other party’s fault) and a quick lookover by me determined the car should be easily repairable with some bolt-ons. Strangely enough the radiator, battery, and even the headlights survived the impact.
Later on and after the car was towed home a much closer examination showed the inner wheel well and floor pan was buckled, the subframe tweaked, and a few suspension components were damaged although to the naked eye those components looked fine.
At that point I told him to just write the car off.
With such a common car there’s no need to accept one that’s been in a crash. I’d find another. Try Cars.com, that kind of thing. The thought of dealing with a ‘car broker’, and accepting the one car he finds, gives me the car-buying-creeps. Unless you know him personally, of course.