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How Does Body Damage Affect A Car's Value?

Cosmetic damage is no big deal while you own a car. Body damage doesn’t often affect the way a car drives, although sometimes there are other mechanical issues lurking behind the smack-up. But where body damage really comes into play is when you want to sell a car.

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Can You Sell a Car with Body Damage?

Can You Sell a Car with Body Damage?It’s possible to sell a car while it still shows the scars of road battles. Dents, dings, scratches, cracked bumpers – you name it, you can sell a car while it’s damaged. There are a couple things to note though:

  • Some types of body damage can affect whether a car passes its annual certification inspection. For example, if a light is broken or the damage goes all the way through a body panel, it can be a safety hazard and need to be repaired before it’s allowed on the road again.

  • It’s tougher to sell a damaged car. Most people searching for a used car want something that can be driven right away, not something that needs to be repaired first.

You’re certainly able to sell a car with body damage, but it could take longer and will absolutely affect the car’s value.

How Does Body Damage Affect the Value of a Car?

How Does Body Damage Affect the Value of a Car?It simply makes sense that a car with damage is going to sell for less money. Think of it this way: if someone has the option to buy a car just like yours in good condition or buy yours with all its physical imperfections, which one will they choose? Naturally, the one in good condition. To sell yours, you’d have to drop the sale price to the point where it offers the better value for the buyer.

But at what point does it make sense for the buyer? How much does body damage affect the value?

There are two factors to consider:

  • The cost of repairs. Aside from normal wear and tear, how much will it cost the new owner to fix up the damage on your car? You can safely assume that each damaged panel will cost between $400 and $600 to repair – more if they’ll need to replace the panel. Multiply each panel by an average of $500, for example, to determine how much the repairs will cost.

  • The inconvenience. People only buy damaged cars for the huge money savings. It’s going to cost more than just the repair total to make it worth it to buy your damaged car. It will take weeks in most cases before a car is fixed up and ready to drive. There has to be a discount for that wasted time too.

For just one banged-up panel, you can safely assume you’ll have to slash $1000 off the sale price. And if it’s more than just one part, you could be cutting your car’s price by half or even more to make it worth it to a buyer.

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What’s the Value of My Damaged Car?

What's the Value of My Damaged Car?Online damaged car calculators are often inconsistent, biased, and unreliable. You can pay for an appraisal in person, but you don’t want to spend more money than you have to.

You can get a good idea of how much your damaged car is worth with a rough calculation. First, use or to find your car’s approximate selling price if it were in good condition. Next, assess how much damage is on your car. Is it in really rough shape or is it just some light scuffs and scratches? If the damage is really light, take 10 to 15 percent off the book value. If the damage is really bad, take 75 to 85 percent off the fair market value.

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