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Is it still Caveat Emptor when buying a used car?


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I foolishly didn't look at the documents in the glove box in the Corolla, but I had a suspicion that for the price of it, it had a prang.

The totalcarcheck that I bought (still have four of them left, which I will probably never use) didn't list any accidents so I took it that the car was good.

Turns out the totalcarcheck seems to have done a check for write off and other things and not specifically accidents.

The accident was back in 2021 and the car looks brand new with all the panel gaps nice and even and not too wide or getting wider as they go, so I think the car is still a bargain.

The question then is, should the"reputable" car dealer gave told me it had been rear ended in an accident a few years back?

I know, I know, I was soooooo stupid for not looking at the documentation in the glove box, and I didn't fully understand what I "wasn't" seeing in the total car check.


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The car dealers aren’t honest especially when selling cars, new or used. This has been since the early age of automobile and it will remain for ever. I never trust any traders and most of these paid checks for previous accidents or mileage records are only good on the theory, when there had been writes offs , but in real world they can’t always get the right information about the car. Physical checks, old school, and then personal satisfaction before anything else. If the car has been rear ended and not recorded as accident repaired, the job was done to the standards seller legally likely not been liability to note this. Half of the cars seen on the roads has some sort of body repair history, non recorded. 

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What were the documents in the glove box which alerted you to the previous accident damage? You could argue that a dealer who was actively trying to cover this up would have simply removed these documents from the glove box and destroyed them. (Plenty would I'm sure!) You would then have been none the wiser about the accident, even now.

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Michael, In most areas, reputable car dealers are legally required to disclose any prior accidents they are aware of. However, the exact details of what constitutes "awareness" can vary.

Total Car Check, these reports are helpful but might not be all encompassing. They often focus on write offs and major issues, potentially missing minor accidents.

On the positive side  If the car looks good with even panel gaps, it suggests a quality repair job.Look through the glove box paperwork for any accident reports or repair invoices.Contact the dealer and inquire why they didn't mention the accident. Explain the situation and see if they can provide any further information.

Getting a mechanic to inspect the car for any potential issues related to the accident could be helpful but if you are not sure or have doubts walk away as there are many more cars to be had for a bargain.Hope this helps :smile:

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