A dented body, a crumpled bumper or shattered windows - this is probably how most people imagine an accident car. The fact is: many accident vehicles do not show any signs of having been damaged. Another fact is: the value depreciation of such accident cars is usually considerable. Therefore, buying an accident car can be a lucrative business. We explain what you should know about the topic.
This question is not easy to answer because there is no uniform regulation. Even past court rulings show how complex the issue is. What is certain is that as soon as a part of the car that is relevant for driving safety - such as the steering or the suspension - has to be replaced, the vehicle is called an accident car. The same applies if larger areas have to be repaired, filled or repainted.
But what about smaller damages that have also been professionally repaired? The Federal Court of Justice has made a clear statement on this: any damage that constitutes a material defect according to § 434 of the German Civil Code (BGB) is an accident damage and makes the vehicle an accident car. Accordingly, a product is only free of material defects if it is suitable for normal use and has a usual quality.
This means that small paint chips, such as those caused by stones on the highway or country roads, are hardly avoidable, are therefore part of the usual quality and do not make a vehicle an accident car. Any major damage - which does not necessarily have to be caused by an accident in the traditional sense! - represents a material defect.
If you want to buy an accident car, there are several sources to consider. You can often find them at car dealerships, and you may have a good negotiating basis since they want to get rid of the devalued vehicles quickly.
In addition, insurance companies often provide a good source. Especially with large damage, they often pay out to the insured and thereby acquire the accident car. Afterwards, they sell these vehicles again, hoping to make less loss overall.
There are also online accident car markets. Here, as a buyer, you have a particularly large selection and can better compare the individual accident vehicles. In general, online providers are usually a good source for buying used cars.
For those who may want to buy several accident cars at once, an accident car auction could be interesting. These are often organized by large car dealerships, where the old used cars are offered in bulk. Numerous online providers can also be found where you can bid for an accident car.
If you are considering buying an accident car, you should conduct very thorough research on the damage. Ideally, the seller can prove all damage with an expert report. Repairs should be traceable through workshop invoices. The more information you get as a buyer about the accident or damage, the more trustworthy the seller appears.
In addition, every car that you want to buy should always be thoroughly checked from the outside and inside. This is especially true for accident vehicles. In particular, it should be clarified whether all visible damage matches the seller's information. An inspection of the paint and gap dimensions provides information on whether the vehicle may have had further damage.
If the seller's price expectations seem exaggerated or a precise assessment of the accident car seems difficult, an independent expert opinion can provide information on the objective residual value of the vehicle. A reputable seller should not stand in the way of this, as he also wants to sell his accident cars at a fair price.
Buying a damaged car - it can definitely be worth it. The discount increases with the amount of damage. There are several sources for buying damaged vehicles. Auctions are particularly interesting for frequent buyers, where the potential savings can be particularly large.
However, caution is advised when there are few documents available regarding the damage or its repair, making it difficult to verify the extent of the damage. The more transparent the seller is about the history of the damaged car, the higher the likelihood that the information provided is entirely truthful.