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Has My Car (or Truck) Been Wrecked?

David Humphreys June 19, 2018

Most people know about Carfax and use it or AutoCheck before they buy a vehicle. Neither report is any guarantee that your vehicle has not been in a serious wreck. Did you know that neither AutoCheck nor Carfax does anything to actually investigate the collision history of your vehicle? They simply repeat whatever information is provided to them by various sources. If a fraudster wants to hide the vehicle's true history (and what fraudulent car dealer doesn't?) all they have to do is to not self-report the collision and repair history and avoid the information sources that do self-report.

If the state doesn't issue a “Salvage” or “Total Loss” title, there is very little that can be done to alert others about the true collision history of your vehicle. Some frauds go so far as to “launder” a branded salvage title into a clean title, selling the vehicle across state lines at a “See Nothing, Say Nothing” Dealers Only auto auction.

The financial incentive for a fraudulent car dealer to is to buy a cosmetically repaired, wreck damaged vehicle, paying far less for it and then passing it off to you as a “clean” vehicle. This is often done through a murky chain of wholesale buyers, sellers, and auction houses, often across state lines. It's very difficult for law enforcement to stop the steady flow of wrecked vehicles through the back channels of auctions, salvage yards, and shady repair shops.

So how do YOU know whether your car has been collision damaged?

Things you can check for yourself to see if your vehicle has been wrecked or been in a flood:

  1. Check the door pillars and the engine compartment for factory stickers. Unless there are no stickers (missing stickers means they likely were removed in a cosmetic repair), you can compare what you see to other vehicles of the same year and make.

  2. Check for paint overspray on all of the chrome and glass and also under the hood.

  3. Measure the gaps between the body components on one side of the vehicle and compare to the width of the same gaps on the other side of the vehicle.

  4. Crawl underneath the vehicle if you are able and look for scrapes, gouge marks, freshly applied undercoating or painting or any other non standard looking modifications (you can check under another vehicle of the same make and model for comparison).

  5. Look under the hood at the wiring and connections for any non-factory appearing changes.

  6. Look for wrench marks on bolts and nuts or any rusting of nuts or bolts (factories use special equipment to prevent such damage).

  7. Look into the vents or under loose carpet for mud, silt, or water or rust stains (your sense of smell can be an obvious tip off).

Now what do you do?

If you have reason to believe you bought a wrecked, flooded, or salvage vehicle, you should take immediate action to protect your legal rights, click here for a Free Case Review.