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Trading in a Car with Body Damage: What You Need to Know

Trading in a Car with Body Damage

If your car has sustained some body damage and you're in the market to get a new vehicle you may be wondering if trading in a car with body damage is even possible. The good news is that yes, it's very possible. In fact, drivers trade in cars with body damage all the time. This is one of the big reasons why people want to get an update of an older vehicle.  Accidents happen and after a few years of driving the same car, there is always the chance that you're going to get into a few dings or fender benders that cause damage, or even more serious accidents that leave the body of your car in a damaged state. So, let's look at how trading in a car with body damage works and how it's going to affect the value.

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 How Does Body Damage Affect the Value of My Car?


 As we said, the good news is you can absolutely sell the car with body damage. The bad news is that even if you repair some collision damage, your vehicle could lose 10% to as much as 50% of its value just because it had been damaged in the past.


There's always the temptation to repair a car before you sell it or trade it in. It makes sense that a car that is in good condition is going to be worth more than one that is damaged. But the counterintuitive fact of the matter is that in many cases it is actually worth more to you to not bother repairing that vehicle. With the depreciation that comes with damage even after repairs, you can end up sinking a large portion of the car's value into repairing the body damage only to find out that at the end it's worth less than what you paid to fix it.


Things That Affect the Value of a Car with Body Damage


There are a few things you need to take into consideration when trying to figure out the value of your car after it sustained body damage. The first thing you want to do is find out what your car is worth in the first place. The best way to do this is to head to either Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds.com and find out what your car is listed at. You can find the make, model, and year of just about any automobile ever manufactured on these sites. You can even include body color and trim packages. You'll be able to get an estimate of your value that takes into account whether your car is in perfect condition, poor condition, or somewhere in between.


Once you have a rough idea of the value of your car, it's easier to determine whether or not it's worth it to trade in with body damage or trying to get something fixed. But keep in mind, there's more to determining the value of a vehicle and whether or not it's worth repairing than checking the Blue Book value. For instance:


  • Materials. This is something that a lot of drivers don't think of, but it has a big effect on the potential value of a car with body damage. For instance, in 2015 Ford switched the F-150 from steel to aluminum. The thought of the time was that the new aluminum models were going to be more expensive to repair and also less safe. In fact, the aluminum holds up just as well as steel does in crash testing, and they didn't become more expensive because Ford kept a cap on the price of replacement aluminum parts. 


However, what was less well-publicized was that the cost of getting steel replacement parts for older models actually went up. So, depending on what your vehicle is made of, repairing that body damage might be more expensive than the exact same kind of body damage would be on a different car made of a different material. 


  • Mileage. Mileage has absolutely nothing to do with the way your car looks but it has everything to do with the value. Any car with over 100,000 miles is going to be considered well used and the value is going to suffer. So, if your car has 100,000 miles or more on it, taking the time to repair body damage is something you really want to think hard about. It's already going to be considered less valuable because of how far it's driven and putting the money in time of the repairs is going to cut more out of your resale or trade-in value at the end of the day.


  • Age. Aside from how the age of a car can affect the materials as we've seen with the Ford F-150, the desirability of an older car needs to be taken into consideration. While some older cars are considered classics, if you're looking at cars that are from the 80s to the 90s and even the early 2000s those are not old enough to be considered vintage yet, and there are in many cases just considered old and less reliable. 


The technology isn't up to par with what drivers want from newer automobiles. You're not going to have something like a navigation system and depending on the age it may not even have power windows or power doors. Because the cars missing those features are not as desirable, they're going to be worth much less on a trade in. So, taking the time to repair body damage on a car that's this old can quickly become counterproductive. 


  • Vehicle History. There's a reason when you get a Carfax report on a car it's going to list accidents that the vehicle has been in. This is important information for a new buyer. You'd want to know if the car you were interested in had been in a serious accident in the past because it calls into question how reliable the car might be in the future. 


Even if it was repaired, there's potential that some damage wasn't accounted for or there has been some serious weakening of parts that didn't appear to be damaged. So even if you take the time to repair body damage after a collision, that's why the value can drop by as much as 50%. New buyers or dealers don't want to risk that the car is going to be unreliable or fall apart on them as a result of past damages.



What to Expect from a Dealership When You Trade in A Car with Body Damage


When you take your car with body damage into a dealership to trade it in you have to remember that they are running a business. That means that not only are they going to try to sell you the highest value car you're willing to buy, but they're also interested in giving you the least amount they can on a trade-in. That doesn't mean that the dealership is trying to scam you, it just means that they're in the business of making money so they're not going to give you any more money than they feel they need to. And if your car has had some body damage as a result of a collision then that is going to cost you.


A dealership absolutely will take a car on trade in that has collision damage and there are few things they are likely to do with it.


  • Repair. If the dealership feels that it's worth it to them, they will repair the body damage and resell a car. Dealerships are able to perform repairs much more cost-effectively than you are. You have to take it to a mechanic, but the dealership has their own mechanics. If the damage is not so severe, or the car is still high value enough that it's worth the time this is what they're going to do.


  •  Wholesale. If the make and model of your car isn't actually one that the dealer you take it to sells, which means if you take a Chevy to a Ford dealer for instance, the dealer is likely just to sell it wholesale to another dealer who specializes in that make and model.


  • Auction. Oftentimes a dealer doesn't want the hassle of trying to repair a car that has any damage. Instead, they will ship the vehicle to auctions that are held all around the country. Typically, cars here are sold as is and it's just a method of turning the vehicle around quickly to try to make some money off of it.


The Bottom Line


When it comes to trading in a car with body damage your best bet for getting the most money is to go with Cash Cars Buyer. We can offer you cash in hand for your car, no waiting for checks to clear or online payments to process. We can even tow your car away for you free of charge. And even if it has body damage, we are still going to offer you a fair deal for the value of your vehicle. This way you don't have to worry about how you're going to get it to a dealer, be exposed to covid-19, or when and how you're going to get paid.


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