How Important is a car’s history? You slowly and carefully back into that narrow spot in the underground parking garage. You turn your head for a split second to see who’s honking their horn and SCRAAAAAAPE! The parking garage pillar now has a perfect sample of the Iridium Silver paint you pain-stakingly spent hours choosing in the dealership. You take it to your local body shop and have it fixed. They do an amazing job and it looks like new. You can’t even tell it was ever damaged. It looks the same or even better than it did before it was damaged. So, is your car now worth less? YES.
If a dealer was doing a trade-in appraisal on 2 exact same cars, year make and model, and the only difference is your encounter with the underground garage pillar, your vehicle will be valued 10% – 30% less.
If a dealer was doing a trade-in appraisal on 2 exact same cars, year make and model, and the only difference is your encounter with the underground garage pillar, your vehicle will be valued 10% – 30% less. This is often over looked as a factor in whether or not to put a claim through your insurance. This brings up another question. Do body shops report to services like Carfax? Usually not. The majority of body shops don’t report any records to Carfax at all, and when they do, it’ll say something like “Vehicle serviced. Front bumper, fascia, headlights, grille replaced.” Carfax reports this as a repair, not an accident so you should not take Carfax reports as gospel. But, in the case of more serious damage, where there is a police report and/or an insurance claim, that will be reported to Carfax.
(For more info on how Carfax collects data, click here.)
So what if someone lies about a car’s history before selling it to you? It all depends on who’s doing the lying. If it was a dealership, you’re more likely to get some justice because there may be more of a “paper trail” as to how the car was represented. In most private car sales, it’s buyer beware.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line, whether you’re buying a used vehicle from a dealership, or your bother-in-law’s best friend, get as much info as you can, preferably in writing. If you’re putting out major dollars, spend a bit more and pay to have your mechanic give it a once over. Most mechanics will be able to spot work done by body shops, or aftermarket parts on the car which would indicate a repair.