How I have bought this car:
I was looking for car of the size of Opel Astra or Renault 19, reasonably old, with good value for money. After browsing through the used cars shops and internet, I have found a commercial, selling 3 years old Renault 19, with only 27.000 km. So I went ahead to check it. I was impressed by interior of the car and also very inexperienced in buying cars. So I bought it.
Where the inexperience shows? Although I knew the car has had an accident, I was not able to check it thoroughly. This brought me some problems later on. To compensate for lack of experience, I brought the car to Renault dealer for check before I bought it, but they did not help me a lot.
How can I see that my Renault 19 was crashed?
It was crashed from the front. The wonder is, that you have to take torch and look at the body from bellow. Look into wings, look at the supporting structure for any uneven areas. Do not look only at the side that was crashed, but always look at the opposite side as well. Remember, that front of the car almost always moves to the side and you can see how much by deformation on the other side. If any parts were exchanged, screws are usually not in original paint. Plastic parts in the engine compartment are quite expensive so people do not dare to buy them new when they repair the car. If they are missing or look much older then other similar parts, car was probably crashed.
What can you expect from crashed car?
Rust, rust and rust. But this is not the biggest problem of all. It is much worse if the tires are not worn evenly. So always look at the tires. It can be even worse, if the chassis is not stiff enough any longer.
Fortunately, I only had problem with missing plastic parts (I managed to collect them from car graveyard), non working switch of the cooling fan and with the costly painting repairs.