finance and insurance will be less. Buying used lets you put a better-equipped car in your driveway than you may be able to afford new. However, a used vehicle can also be risky as you may not know its history. Before you buy, check out our list of warning signs that the vehicle may be a rebuilt wreck.
Telltale signs that a car is a rebuilt wreck:
- Paint that chips off or doesn't match indicates damage repair and poor blending.
- Paint overspray on chrome, trim, or rubber seals around body openings reveals that the adjacent panel was repaired.
- Misaligned fenders suggest a poor repair job or use of nonoriginal equipment manufacturer (non-OEM) parts.
- CAPA (Certified Automotive Parts Association) sticker on any part may indicate collision repair.
- Uneven tread wear reveals wheel misalignment, possibly because of frame damage.
- Mold or air freshener cover-up suggests water damage from a leak or flood.
- Silt in trunk may mean flood damage.
- Fresh undercoating on wheel wells, chassis, or engine strongly suggests recent structural repairs covered up.
- Door that doesn't close correctly could point to a door-frame deformation and poor repair.
- Hood or trunk that doesn't close squarely may indicate twisting from side impact.
- Dashboard lights, power windows, and other electronics with intermittent problems could be a sign of flood damage.
- Dashboard air-bag indicator that doesn't light up could mean the air bag was replaced improperly--or wasn't replaced at all--after an accident.
- Big dents, kinks in structural components, or crimped or crunched fuel lines and pipes underneath are the easiest problems to find because rebuilders assume you won't be looking there.
- Uneven surfaces on frame components could be filler, seam sealer, or welding beads.
- Damaged/gouged nuts and metal on top surface of strut tower (which connects the front wheels to the frame) in engine compartment may mean the frame was realigned.
- New metal on only one part of the hood apron shows section repair rather than replacement of the entire apron piece.
- Welding bead anywhere on heavy frame members underneath the engine suggests frame-rail sectioning or sloppy repair of a cutout made in the rail to perform repair work.
- Inconsistent welds around hood apron, door, door frame, or trunk exemplify a non-factory weld.
- Frayed safety belts or belt fibers that have melted together because of friction indicate a previous frontal impact above 15 mph.
- Missing car emblem or name on trunk may mean a non-OEM part was used.
Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.