Everyone knows how terrible a head-on collision can be for drivers and passengers. At the same time, such accidents often cause irreparable damage to the structure of the vehicle, which does not allow restoring the technical integrity of the body to the factory parameters.
Buying a car which has been in a head-on collision accident, its new owner risks getting a number of unpleasant and unfixable surprises. A minimum knowledge of how to identify a broken-down car will allow you to choose from a huge variety of vehicle options only those that can be submitted for a thorough inspection to a master, saving a considerable amount of money.
7 signs of a car recovered from a head-on collision
When buying a used car, the first thing to do is to have it inspected for any involvement in accidents.
However, you should not rely solely on the information from the State Traffic Police, because sometimes after an accident the matter never comes to formal registration, and after an experienced mechanic works with a damaged vehicle, the evident signs of accidents may disappear.
Some general signs, to which inattentive buyers may simply not pay attention, help to maximally reliably determine, whether the car was involved in a head-on collision or not:
- The first thing that suffers a frontal collision is the hood, so look at the size of the gaps between the body and the hood on the left and right sides of the car – they must be the same, especially on foreign cars.
- With all that, the hood on relatively small mileages must not have been painted, replaced with a new one or have obvious differences with the body paintwork. For example, if there are small chips and scratches on the body, the hood must also have similar defects.
- A frontal collision most often irreversibly changes geometry of the hood opening mechanism, so there are usually problems with its opening – an obvious sign of an accident.
- After opening the hood, even if it was easy for you, be sure to look at the places of its fasteners. Bolts must be painted in body color, and there can be no scratches or unscrewing marks on the whole car.
- Shock absorber strut cups are also obligatory to inspect, as they are often damaged in frontal impact. The main signs of it will be cracks, spots of manual welding, traces of unscrewing of bolts fixing the struts.
- Often after an accident, the expansion tanks are replaced, and with them all the pipes and rubber hoses. It is not difficult to notice perfectly new elements of the engine cooling system, and if the car has driven only 50 thousand kilometers, there should be many questions to its owner.
- Next, you should check all the joints of the metal body parts. Factory welding is nice and neat, has an even and uniform seam, and the spot welding is definitely not confused with anything else. If there is even the slightest sign of a hand-made welder’s work, the car is very likely to have been in an accident.
If a damaged car was made in a garage, the traces of an accident may show crumpled elements of a body. Paint chips, missing sealant where it should be (for instance, between the seams on the back of the hood) or its excessive presence where it definitely should not be.
Technical points indicating a broken car
Sometimes a battered car is restored so professionally that all the aforementioned signs may be simply absent, and the car under the hood may look like a new one, just from the showroom.
And it should alert the buyer in the first place. If the car has a decent mileage, the underhood space must be at least dirty, the engine is covered with dust and traces of minor oil spills, which inevitably gets on it during the change of fuel and lubricants or during the level check. A perfectly polished engine and other mated parts and car body parts would tell you that something was definitely done to the car, and it is possible that this work was connected with the accident.
To confirm your hunch, look closely at both headlights, compare the markings and years of manufacture with each other and with the year of manufacture of the car. The data must match within a month, and fixing bolts must have no traces of unscrewing, otherwise we may conclude that the car is still broken.
Too clean radiator and forced cooling fan should also alert. These parts should not stand out too much against the background of under-hood space. If they do stand out, most likely the car was in an accident with frontal collision.
The confirmation of premature replacement of units under the hood may be the stickers of service centers, which often remain forgotten on the bodies of replaced parts. The data from the stickers will give information about the date of the work and the exact name of the part.
Sometimes the parts being replaced during restoration are already covered with dust, and the stickers may be gone. In that case, knowing the differences between the original parts and their analogs or even fakes can help. If the car you are considering has cheap Chinese analogues of radiators or an alternator, and the mileage is low, it is safe to say goodbye to the seller and proceed to the examination of the other vehicle.
You should also carefully inspect the side members, an important structural part of the car, which maintains the geometry of its body, and the stability of the car on the road. The factory arrangement of the spars makes it possible to adjust the wheel overlap and camber. Failure to make the exact adjustment usually affects the condition of the tires, which begin to wear unevenly, and this is an indirect sign of a beat-up car.
If the car was involved in a serious accident, it is impossible to return the spars to their original position, even at the stand. Thus, restoration works may leave some traces of welding and microcracks of natural corrosion layer, which may be detected with an ordinary car flashlight.
It is extremely dangerous to drive such a car, because it is not clear at what moment it will lose its stability on the highway and become a party to another accident.