Buyer Tips Used Cars

5 Major Physical Damages to Look out for Before Buying a Used Car from Online Auction

By Daisy Emah-Emah Posted: 05/04/2021

What are the important physical damages to look out for before buying a car through online auctions? 

Without a doubt, wholesale used car auctions will help you save thousands of dollars on your next purchase. This is great! But it is important to not get carried away with the possibility of good deals or the large inventory to avoid ending up with a lemon! 

Many inexperienced buyers are eager to buy and often miss tell-tale signs that may end up posing costly challenges. These challenges spring up during shipping or worse yet ending up with a lemon. 


How to Avoid Physical Damages

The option of arranging physical inspection comes with a cost many are unwilling to bear. A cheaper alternative is to purchase vehicle history reports. Surprisingly enough, some buyers are still unwilling to go for that option. It is important to note that vehicle history reports or VIN checks are also prone to omissions.VIN checks sometimes fail to capture the true state of the car. Especially if the current damage was never reported for the records. 



So what’s the worst that can happen aside from buying a lemon?

The impact is more on buyers who are buying to export out of the USA. A car that listed as a runner or non-runner depending on the extent of damage, the physical condition at the time of delivery, or the criteria of the shipping line, may be rejected. Thus ineligible for the RORO shipping option leaving container shipping as the only option to export the car.

Shipping in a container is slightly more expensive when sharing a container/consolidating. It takes more time to arrive, consolidation may stretch the delivery timeline by anything from a few weeks to months. There is also a possibility of additional inspection fees from random checks. 

When next you are buying your vehicle in an auction avoid buying vehicles with these physical damages: 


Physical Damages to look out for


The most basic thing to do before purchase is to visually check if the tires are flat or have pressure in them, this is essential because the car won’t be accepted as a runner upon delivery at the port move from its location. Each car listing comes with up to 10 pictures that can give you a pretty good idea of the state of the tires if deflated or not. 

Also, you need to check to know if the tires are in good condition or have any major damage that will hinder movement. 





A bent wheel can be very obvious if you are patient enough to inspect the desired vehicle. The rim is the tire’s outer edge, which reduces friction when the car is moving. A damaged wheel will visibly be bent away from the tire which can break the air seal that is between the tire and wheel. One side of the tire being more worn than the other can indicate poor wheel or suspension alignment.

Before a purchase is made, inspect the positioning of the tires, make sure they are not bent and the steering should align with the position of the tires. 


Leaking Fluids

The easiest way to spot this is to inspect under the vehicle for oil sludge (brown greasy liquid). You can also get this information by arranging a physical inspection or paying for the vehicle history report.  


Driver Door Damage

Visibly inspect the driver and passenger side of the vehicle, to ascertain that there is no damage to the doors. Due to the damage to the driver’s door, the vehicle is not easily accessible to be shipped as a runner. 


Hood/Bonnet Damage

For vehicles with batteries in the hood, shippers may find it difficult to access the battery of a severely damaged hood. Many shipping companies do not transport vehicles that batteries are not easily accessible, because they cannot be disconnected. A damaged hood is likely to have hanging and exposed wiring, broken bulbs with exposed wiring, which many shipping companies may not accept as RORO. Also, a hood that is pushed too far in due to damage obstructs the driver’s visibility and may not be accepted as RORO.


Regardless of all this, you avoid purchase vehicles with less severe physical damages. We have highly skilled personnel who are available to assist you in accessing vehicles. and finding the right vehicle for you. Sign up here today to get started.