Buying a second-hand car? Before signing on the dotted line and driving off, examine your potential buy for signs of a past accident, or seek the help of a trusted vehicle inspector.
1 Uneven paint
Some cars look clean and pristine, but a closer look may reveal glaring colour differences. Walk around the car and keep an eye out for uneven paint surfaces. It helps to view each side from varying distances, especially while under the sun.
2 Third-party parts
As replacing parts can be costly, third-party parts — as opposed to original ones — could have been used to lower repair costs. If a part of an aged car appears brand new (especially the airbag cover), then something is likely amiss.
3 Panel misalignments
Open and shut the doors, boot and bonnet to check that they are perfectly aligned with other panels. Pay attention to door jams as well. If a part does not appear flushed, it could be a sign it has been damaged or replaced.
4 Uneven gaps
Beyond superficial checks, ensure that the size of gaps between panels are evenly spaced. You should not be able to stick your finger in between gaps.
Inspect the windshield and windows closely for cracks — especially hairline ones — which could have been formed upon impact.
6 Headlights and tail lights
Check for moisture inside the car’s headlights and tail lights. Water may enter through a crack or a missing bulb cover. Be suspicious when the lights on the left don’t match the intensity of the lights on the right.
7 Driving misalignment
If a car seems to pull to one side during your test drive, its alignment may be off. Never purchase such a vehicle without asking for a realignment.
8 Weld marks
Shoddy repairmen may leave some pretty big tells. Look out for signs of cutaway sections that appear to be stitched together, especially in the boot or bonnet. It is a bad idea to purchase such a car as it is impossible to know if it would hold up in the event of another accident.
9 Unnatural creases and bends
A bent car frame, and creases on metal sheets and parts are some tell-tale signs that a blow has once been absorbed. If any part of the car produces an uneven reflection, you have every right to be suspicious.
10 Mismatched screws
Screws used throughout the car should be of the same type and of similar condition. Mismatched, damaged and/or missing screws are signs that the car may have undergone a repair under the radar.
AA Car Evaluation Service
For a more detailed check of the pre-loved car, leave it to the professionals from the AA Car Evaluation Service. They are unbiased, and have access to the right testing equipment, to produce a detailed report of the car’s condition. Inspections are strictly by appointment only.
For more information, refer to https://www.aas.com.sg/our-services/car-evaluation.html