Is my car worth less after an accident?

    Accidents happen, and they can impact your car’s value down the line.

    Accidents can leave lasting marks on your vehicle, and not just physically. A car or van with a history of collisions can also carry questions of safety and reliability, which affect its resale potential

    When you sell your car, you’ll be asked to detail any accidents it’s ever been in. The good news is that minor bumps and scratches won’t impact the value of your vehicle much, if at all. UK dealers know that used cars are rarely flawless, so a scratch here or there is perfectly fine. However, this isn’t the case for more significant damage.

    Discover the impact having an accident history can have on your car’s value and what you can do to get more money if and when you choose to sell your vehicle

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    What counts as an accident?

    How you define ‘accident’ influences your car’s value and dealer expectations after the fact. Small scratches, scrapes, or dents usually have a minor impact on car value, if at all. 

    Minor damage from a collision can have a slightly higher impact on vehicle valuation, even if all necessary repairs have been made. Serious accidents that impact the structural integrity of your car or van are likely to significantly impact resale value. 

    Insurance category bands are another way to gauge accident impact. When you tell your insurance company that you’ve been involved in a collision, they’ll assess the damage and place your car into an insurance category based on the sort of damage sustained.

    Insurance categoryMeaning
    Category ACar is irredeemable and must be scrapped. Category A cars cannot be broken down into parts and resold.
    Category BCar is irredeemable but vehicle may be broken down for parts and have some components resold. Parts are permitted to be used in road-going cars.
    Category SCar has endured structural damage. The car will need to be professionally repaired; once fixed, it can be driven on the roads again. Note: Category S was previously known as Category C
    Category NDamage is not structural, but this does not necessarily mean that the car remains roadworthy. This includes damage to the brakes or steering, both of which make the car unsafe to drive. Note: Category N was previously known as Category D

    Accidents and car resale price

    car worth less after crash
    Your car could be worth less after a serious crash.

    A history of accidents affects a car’s value, shaping buyer perceptions and influencing resale potential in three key ways. However, remember that what your car was worth before the accident also plays a role in the rate of depreciation and its value post-collision.

    1. Degree of damage – After an accident, assess the severity of damage, including structural and cosmetic aspects. Structural damage can significantly impact a car’s value, as it may compromise its safety and overall integrity. Similarly, cosmetic damage, while less critical, can still affect the car’s aesthetics and market appeal.

    2. Quality of repairs – Accidents may raise doubts about a car’s overall quality and reliability, even after repairs. Ensuring that you have high-quality repairs by professional technicians using genuine parts can help mitigate reductions in vehicle value, even if there’s been extensive damage. Documentation of all repairs is vital as a clear record of the work undertaken! Qarranties on repair work also offer reassurance to potential buyers regarding the quality and reliability of the vehicle.

    3. Insurance costs – A car with a history of accidents may incur higher insurance premiums, a fact that can deter buyers. Understanding a car’s previous insurance claims provides insights into its accident and repair history. Moreover, it allows for an assessment of how these claims might impact future insurance premiums, which can influence the car’s resale value

    There’s no one answer to precisely how much less your car will be worth after an accident. Cars placed in insurance categories A or B will only be worth what you can get when you scrap your car, or for its parts. Category S and N cars still have hope of selling to a dealer or private buyer, but they’ll be worth less than vehicles that have never been involved in an accident. 

    Other things that impact car value, regardless of accidents, will also continue to apply. So, as well as the car depreciation that comes with accidents, you’ll also have to remember that age and mileage play a role. 

    What is diminished value?

    damaged car worth less after accident
    After an accident, your car will have a diminished value, which you can use on your insurance claim.

    Diminished value is an insurance term referring to what your car was worth before and after an accident. 

    The diminished value can be used in your insurance claim to help you cover the repairs needed to bring your car back to its original state. It’s worth noting that even if you completely repair your car, its accident history will still be requested and likely still impact value. 

    Disclosing accident history

    When considering the selling price, disclosing the accident history of a vehicle can have a dual impact. It may lead to a lower selling price due to the perceived risk associated with the car and decreased market demand. However, this transparency can also serve as a negotiation leverage for both buyers and sellers, and help sellers maintain a positive business reputation. 

    Legally, many jurisdictions have consumer protection laws that mandate sellers to disclose any known defects or significant issues with the vehicle, including past accidents. Failure to disclose accident history could be constituted as misrepresentation, potentially exposing the seller to legal liabilities and financial penalties.

    Sale contracts also often include clauses requiring sellers to disclose all relevant information about the vehicle, including accident history.

    Ethically, disclosing accident history demonstrates integrity and transparency, fostering trust between the seller and the buyer. Buyers have the right to know the complete history of the vehicle to make informed decisions about its safety and reliability.

    Will dealers buy a car that has been in an accident?

    Motorway works with 5,000+ verified dealers who are experienced in selling a wide range of cars. Being in an accident isn’t something that automatically means you won’t be able to sell your car. 

    While you should assume that you’re likely to make less on a car that has been in an accident versus one that hasn’t, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great deal. Even if your car has been written off, we can connect you with our scrap partner (though your car will not be able to be offered to our dealer network). 

    Selling with Motorway is easy, but there are some extra things to remember if you know your car has a history of accidents:

    • Motorway’s free and instant valuations are based on reg and mileage, and the assumption that your car has never been in an accident
    • You must show any damage in your car profile
    • Dealers will inspect your car in person, if they find evidence of an accident that you did not disclose, your sale may fall through.

    No matter who buys your car, you should have your documents in order, such as service history to show the repairs it has had. Always be honest about any accidents.


    Can I check if my car has been in an accident?

    Yes, you can check a car’s accident history online by entering its registration number into one of the many online platforms or UK government websites. Additionally, you can check your V5C logbook or ask the DVLA for past MOT results, which will include accident history.  

    How do I know if my car has front-end damage?

    Front end damage signs can include misaligned panels, uneven gaps, cracked headlights, and issues with the hood or bumper alignment. If unsure, ask for a mechanic for a full-body assessment.  

    What part of the car gets damaged the most?

    While car accidents can affect every part of your vehicle, the front and back bumpers, grille, headlights, and bonnet are areas that commonly experience damage in collisions due to their exposure at either end of your car.

    Can the front-end of a car be fixed?

    Yes, front-end damage can often be repaired by auto body shops, depending on the extent of the damage and the vehicle’s make and model. Consult a mechanic on what’s possible for your vehicle.

    How can I track the value of my car?

    If you’re not sure what your car’s value is to begin with, it’s hard to know how its accident history impacts resale price.

    All vehicles depreciate at varying rates, with no rule of averages accurately describing any one car’s changing value. Motorway’s Car Value Tracker provides a free, reliable monthly price alert for up to six vehicles at once. 

    Follow changes to your car’s value to choose the best time to sell, and make informed choices about investments in your car’s maintenance.

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    Ready to sell your car?

    Want to read more about owning, valuing, and selling your car? Check out more of our guides here, covering everything from depreciation to maintaining your car’s value. Understand your car’s worth in the wider market.