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Consumers likely to overpay on a used car without crash damage history

CARFAX: 40% of cars have some kind of damage
Consumers likely to overpay without crash damage history on used cars
Posted at 4:42 AM, Mar 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 09:52:52-04

Spring is typically the busiest time of year for used car sales. As people get those tax returns and now stimulus checks, experts are expecting a competitive market where consumers can easily overpay. News5 found out learning about a vehicle's crash history is a step that could help you avoid those mistakes.

There are so many things to consider when you're looking at buying a used car, but experts say checking that vehicle's crash history is most important because it impacts the car's value and safety.

Damage could reduce the value of a vehicle by thousands of dollars, and could even put your family's safety at risk if it wasn't properly repaired. The experts at CARFAX estimate as many as 40% of vehicles on U.S. roads have sustained damage during their lifetime; that's about 110 million cars. CARFAX data also shows one in four cars are sold within a year of the incident.

"A vehicle that has a damage event in its history its value will be lowered by about $500. So, it is important to know about that event. If a vehicle had a severe damage event in its history the average impacted value is about $1,700. So it's very easy to have someone overpaying by hundreds if not thousands of dollars," said CARFAX spokesperson Emilie Voss.

The experts say if you stick to these three steps when buying a used car you'll be able to limit the chances you make a mistake when you buy:

- Get a vehicle history report
(A CARFAX report will cost you if you're shopping for a used car on the private market, but if you're shopping at car dealerships, many will provide a free CARFAX report)

- Take the vehicle for an inspection with a mechanic you know and trust.

- Take the car for a test drive to make sure you're comfortable driving it.

"So a majority of vehicles that have an accident in its history, when you see it on the CARFAX report you'll also see some sort of severity details. Severity, point of impact, where that accident may have impacted the vehicle. So you can take it for that independent inspection and have that mechanic look and see was it the right front bumper? And make sure those repairs were made properly and that the paint looks good, all of that, so you can feel better about your purchase before you make it," said Voss.

A lot of times people will try to estimate the value of a vehicle based on year, make, and model, but you can get more specific details than that.

You can use this CARFAX tool to put in specific vehicle information to get the history value for your specific vehicle or one you're looking at buying.