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Did I Just Buy a Previously Wrecked Car?

David Humphreys Jan. 8, 2020

After you buy a new or used vehicle from a dealership or a private seller, sometimes the thrill of a new car or truck wears off too quickly. You may just be feeling a little “buyer's remorse,” or it might be something much worse. It could be a nagging sense that you've been had.  Some of the red flags that you might have purchased an undisclosed previously wrecked car include:  mismatched or misaligned body panel; paint over-spray on seals, windows, or in the trunk carpet; pulling hard to one side or another; shakes at highway speeds; or, if you notice an electrical problem. If you observe any of these red flags, you may need to ask, “Has my car been wrecked?” More than just asking, you need to investigate and get to the truth.

A dirty secret of the car sales business is that there is far more money to be made selling used cars compared to new vehicles. How can a dealer make more money selling used vehicles for less money than the price of a new vehicle?  One way is that some dealers knowingly buy wreck damaged and repaired vehicles at out-of-state dealer auctions and truck them back in state, then adding a huge markup above what they paid at auction.

Many times auction vehicles with questionable histories are “laundered” across state lines to remove title “brands” such as “salvage” or “junk.” Other times, vehicles don't require a brand in one state so they are sold there and brought in and given a clean title.

Carfax and AutoCheck are useful, but they don't tell the whole story and can lead a consumer to believe if it doesn't appear on the report, it didn't happen.  Not true.  Read the fine print in Carfax or AutoCheck and you will notice that they only report what is reported to them.  You cannot rely on these information providers before you buy. Just because Carfax gives your vehicle a clean bill of health does not mean it has not been is a serious wreck. There are easy ways for fraudsters to avoid having accident damage reported. There are large incentives for people who sell wrecked vehicles to do shoddy and inexpensive repairs and to conceal unsafe conditions such as missing airbags or faulty frame welding.

If you are worried that you bought a vehicle that has been in a wreck, click here for a free case review, or call Humphreys Wallace Humphreys, PC.