Q:

What signs of damage should you look out for when buying a used SUV?

A:

Quick Answer

Common signs of damage on SUVs include body panels with mismatched colors or fresh paint, as well as body panels that magnets cannot stick to. SUVs driven off-road are also prone to suspension and tire damage, so unusual suspension travel or tire wear may indicate potential damage as well.

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Full Answer

While not all signs of damage to an SUV are externally visible, it is common for the signs of repairs to damage to leave visible marks, especially if a seller has hastily attempted to cover the damage before presenting it to a potential buyer. While mismatched body panels are an obvious indication that some type of collision may have occurred, fresh paint spots sometimes signal an attempt to cover up damage from collisions or rust spots. If a magnet is unable to stick to steel body panels on the SUV, this may indicate those panels have been repaired or replaced with other materials. However, not all modern SUVs use steel body panels on all of their exterior, so this may not be a reliable test on some models.

SUVs that are driven off-road are more liable to encounter suspension damage, though this can occur to any SUV. A vehicle with a functional suspension should sit level when not in motion and should not travel excessively in any one direction when cornering. Suspension creaking under cornering or braking can also indicate damage.

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