Unfortunately, even if your vehicle was repaired to its original state after an accident, its trade in value is likely to decrease. Even if the damage was minor, the incident was likely reported to insurance or the police, causing a negative vehicle history report. Many buyers do not feel comfortable purchasing a vehicle that has been in an accident, so the dealer will adjust price to resell the vehicle.
The amount deducted for a vehicle that has been in an accident differs by dealer. Dealers also consider consumer demand for the type of car you have and the current market. Most importantly, the vehicle repairs and whether or not they are noticeable has the biggest impact on your trade value. Bad paint jobs, uneven paint or misaligned panels make it harder to sell a car. If your vehicle was repaired perfectly or the damage was very minor, such as a replaced bumper, you may not suffer decreased value at all.
Amount of Damage
Bring any paperwork that states the cost of repairs and explanation of damages with you to the dealer. If the accident and repairs were minor, the dealer can resell the vehicle easier if he has the paperwork to prove the vehicle did not sustain significant damage. Car history reports do not give a detailed explanation of the accident beyond where the car was hit, the date of the incident and the town and state in which it occured.
If you determine that your vehicle is in excellent condition without noticeable repairs, ask the dealer for more money. While it is understandable potential buyers will haggle over price or decide not to buy the car because of the accident, it is highly unlikely that your trade-in will be the only vehicle on the lot that has a marked history report. Most dealers do not offer their highest trade offer to start, so you likely have some room to negotiate. Don't let the accident stop you from getting a better deal.
Dealerships have employees and managers in place who check trade vehicles over for damage. They also have access to history reports. If the dealer does not notice that the car has been previously repaired or fails to run a history report, it is not your responsibility to point it out. In fact, if you're purchasing a used vehicle, the dealership will not tell you it was in an accident unless you asked to see a history report. The dealership will not sue you or cancel the deal after you purchase, just as you could not do the same if after your purchase you found out a vehicle you bought had been crashed.
Shanan Miller covers automotive and insurance topics for various websites, blogs and dealerships. She has extensive automotive experience, including auction, insurance, finance, service and management positions. Miller has worked for dealer sales events around the United States and now stays local as a sales and leasing consultant for a dealership.