Hidden Accidents: Experts Highlight the Ease of Uncovering Damage in Second-Hand Cars

Used car dealers often fail to disclose to motorists that the vehicle they’re buying has suffered minor or significant damage or has been involved in a total crash. Experts are raising the alarm about this standard practice, which isn’t only due to insurance tables determining what’s repairable but also due to technical aspects. A damaged car may be welded, spray-painted, and look good, but it won’t protect the crew in case of an accident.

“99.4% of the advertised used personal cars this year stated that they had not been involved in an accident. The reality is different. Two-thirds of ten-year-old cars have been in an accident. However, the buyer hardly ever learns about the damage from the seller,” says Martin Pajer, the head of Cebia. This company helps buyers verify if a car has crashed or if the odometer number corresponds to the actual mileage.

Even though sellers often fail to disclose damage in their offers, most motorists know they can verify a car’s history with several companies. A digital footprint left by every car in shared databases facilitates verification. Specialized firms analyze data from insurance companies, branded car services, and previous car advertisements in the Czech Republic and abroad.

Not all damages or odometer discrepancies may be caught by verification systems, but thanks to millions of records, they can discover a lot. “When buying a used car for hundreds of thousands of crowns, I recommend buyers to invest a few hundred in verifying the service history internationally. This reduces the risk of buying a crashed car by more than 90%,” confirms Jiří Grund, Chairman of the Association of Used Car Dealers.

In conclusion, as long as it is possible to order a simple device over the internet for a few thousand crowns to reduce the state of the odometer, the mileage figure may be just indicative. According to Cebia, a reduction occurs in about a third of used cars and even more in imports. Although tampering with the odometer is a criminal offense, it isn’t easy to enforce in practice.