Buyer Tips Used Cars

Used Car Auctions: 10 Major Damage codes You May Find in Car Listings

By Daisy Emah-Emah Posted: 11/11/2021

If you have ever browsed through a used car auction listing you probably have come across the “DAMAGE” report for the vehicle. These damages could be either primary or secondary.


This report is a summary of all the issues found in a vehicle after an assessment. When a vehicle is involved in an accident the damage it sustains can change how your vehicle looks. 


Sometimes it is visible like dents, bends or it may not be visible like mechanical damages – visible damages are easier to repair than non-visible ones. 


Without a doubt, wholesale auctions help you save thousands of dollars!  If for export, buying a vehicle with certain damages can be rejected by the shipping line as RORO causing delays and more cost you never bargained for…



While searching for your ideal vehicle it is important to consider the damage report of the vehicle you want to purchase. To know the history of damages, you can request a VIN report or a physical inspection. 


The VIN report is easier and cheaper to obtain but it does not give you an in-depth knowledge of the current condition of the vehicle. A physical inspection on the other hand is more expensive but more precise and thorough. 


We have curated a list of the top 10 damages (and what they mean) you are likely to come across while searching for a vehicle of your choice. 


1. Front End Damage

Front-end damage is caused by a front-end collision or accident that affects the front of the vehicle. 


Front-end damage can be anything from minor dents and scratches to the major framework. It could be a dented front bumper, a crumpled bonnet hood which may or may not affect the engine. 


Carefully access the vehicle you want to purchase to make sure that the front damage is not major to avoid costly repairs. 


Car Accident

2. Hail Damage

Hail damage affects the vehicle body panels from hailstones, they could be dents and dings, shattered glass, or water in the vehicle’s interior. 


This can be repaired by a mechanic and repairs may be cosmetic or more severe. 


3. Mechanical Damage

Mechanical damage affects the mechanical components of the vehicle such as the engine. Ther brake parts, transmission, etc. If there is damage to any of the vehicle’s major components such as the engine, you will hear noise coming from the engine, leaks, smoke, or transmission not engaging. 


If you want to export a vehicle and notice leaks, it is best to avoid such vehicles as they will be rejected by the shipping line. Mechanical damage can be very severe or not but needed to be auctioned and is above 10 years. Taking a chance on a mechanically damaged car is at your own risk. 


4. Minor Dents/Scratches

This can be found on any part of the vehicle and is not bigger than 30 mm with scratches on any panels of the vehicle. Dents and scratches don’t have any serious impact on the vehicle’s performance. You can always coat it after your purchase…


5. Normal Wear

There is no visible or significant issue that has occurred to vehicles with normal wear. Normal wear is the expected deterioration in the condition of the vehicle due to use. If you are not ready for major mechanical repairs, you should stick your search to vehicles with this condition. 


6. Rear-End Damage

This has to do with damage that occurred at the rear end of the vehicle. This can include the trunk and panels on the rear side. 


Collision at the rear end can move the exhaust system forward, affect the trunk, and the transmission. Rear-end damage may or may not be severe and a professional mechanic can have your vehicle running in no time. 


7. Side Damage

Side damage is caused by an impact or collision that caused damage to either side of a vehicle. This impact leaves the vehicle dented, bent, or leaves door panels crumpled. This damage may include the wheels and tires. 


Before purchasing a vehicle for export with side damage, be sure to check if it affects the front doors. If it does, it’s best to look for similar vehicles if you want to stay on budget, because most shipping lines will reject this vehicle as RORO. 


8. Undercarriage Damage

We all see the exterior part of the vehicle and jump to the rescue when there is any damage to this part, but a lot of drivers often ignore the undercarriage. Really, it’s not their fault – they just don’t see it.


Undercarriage damage occurs to the underside of the vehicle. This is caused by debris, mud, rocks, and even salt that found their way under your vehicle. Also, when you run potholes and bumps – you are not being nice to your undercarriage. 


Undercarriage damage affects the body and any ancillary fittings which includes the suspension, exhaust, fuel tank, etc. If you end up landing a deal with undercarriage damage, have your mechanic fix it up for you.


9. Vandalism

Vandalism occurs when a vehicle is damaged intentionally. This is identified with broken glass, paint on the body of the vehicle, slashed tires, or missing keys, door handles, locks, ignition wiring, etc.


Once your purchase is done have the stolen parts replaced and the vehicle repaired by a professional mechanic. Be careful not to buy a vehicle with a broken windshield if for export. 


10. Water/Flood Damage

This affects both the interior and mechanical components of the vehicle due to water. Although water/flood vehicles can be restored, it’s best to avoid them if you are exporting the vehicle as many shipping lines reject them outrightly.  


Further Reading

  1. 5 Things to do to Restore Your Flooded Vehicle
  2. What You Need to Know About Hail Damaged Cars for Sale
  3. How to Get the Best Vehicle History Report on Auction Cars for Sale 
  4. 5 Major Physical Damages to Look out for Before Buying a Used Car from Online Auction

What Next?

Used car auctions do not guarantee the condition of any vehicle, but knowing what each damage mean can save you lots of headache on your purchase. You should be extra attentive when purchasing for export – you don’t want to buy a vehicle and never have it shipped to your desired location or spend all the money you saved on your purchase.


Before purchasing your vehicle it is recommended to request the vehicle history report to check the vehicle’s damage history. Or request a physical inspection to which may cost you more but will give you a detailed breakdown of the vehicle’s current condition. 


After your purchase, it is recommended to have the vehicle checked and serviced by a professional mechanic. 


You can also take advantage of wholesale auction experts like Auto Auction Mall to assist you so you avoid buying a lemon.


Owning your dream car has never been easier with an inventory of over 150k vehicles you can make your choice. All you have to do is sign up, make a deposit and begin bidding – 


Simple right?


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