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MG MGF Technical - Checking for damage

Going to check out a car at the weekend with a friend, basically as a favour (for some reason he has fooled himself into thinking I know something about mg's) anyway, I have a couple of questions: I've phoned the garage who is selling the car, very cheap 4000 and they have said that it has been involved in a bump, but that it was only cosmetic (alarm bells are already going off), front bumper and sills. I can check the spot welds in the boot and around the doors to make sure that they haven't been filled over etc but is there anyway of checking the the car is 'straight'! I will ask fo an HPi check, an obviously get a drive in it........any advise? SF this is your speciality....what have you learned from scarlet rebuild?

Well at that price its must need a MOT because of its age,if it has been listed in even the lowest 'insurance group write off' the insurance company will have taken the last MOT cert and the car will after repairs have needed a new MOT.

So if old MOT's are with it they will not run consectively.

A HPI check will tell you this anyway.

Just check the shut gap on front doors and bonnet.

Rob, 'minefield' springs to mind, good luck though.SF will be along in a minute;-)

If the damage was 'cosmetic' then the car won't have been written off. If the car was repaired by an approved dealer at the insurer's expense, then it's probably OK (and paperwork should back this up). If it was a cash deal, then be very wary.
front bumper, I can understand - but sills ?

One good way to check the car is straight is to have someone drive it while you follow in another vehicle. Check the car does not crab to one side while being driven straight. If it does then the body or subframes are twisted. Is the steering wheel in the straight ahead position while driving straight? Check for evidence of new paint. Check out the radiator. If it's new then the bump was quite hard. The sills could have been damaged by leaving the road and going over a kerb. Check for further damage underneath. Check condition of tyres/wheels. If there's a new one on the side that the sill was damaged then perhaps the wheel was written off. Ask to see the repair data if they were the garage which did the repairs. Is the previous owner available to talk to?

HTH and Good Luck

Bruce Caldwell


Was the car written off or was it just a repair job under the insurance? This is a big clue as to the extent of the damage. If it was a 'buy back' (Cat C write off) then IMO i'd give it a miss, if it was a straight insurance repair then chances are that it's OK (providing the work was done to a reasonably high standard). Either of these though are good leverage for bargaining witht he vendor. If you can satisfy yourself that the repair was well done, then you have a pretty strong bargaining chip.

Standard of crash repair - straight car
Tricky one this, TTBOMK there is no 'easy' way of checking if the car is straight, although there are numerous clues. Obvious things like panel gaps and spot welds (where visible). Generally Bruce's advice about the radiator is sound, but if the car is aged 5 years plus then corrosion is a more likely reason for the rad to be replaced. It would be worth getting the car 4 wheel aligned, this will be a big clue as to the worthyness of the repair IMO (not sure if the vendor will go for this though). The biggest clue here will be the test drive, the car pulling in one direction, especially under heavy braking would make me very suspicious, as would any odd vibrations or sounds.

Providing the accident didn't make it as far as the cabin / floorpan and the repair is a high quality job then you should be OK IMO, but caution is the watchword here. I would try to find out some more about the car, particularly who the repairers were. If they are an insurance approved repairer (not necessarily an MGR dealership), it *might* be worthwhile popping into some local garages and asking them if they use them and what they think of thier workmanship - just a suggestion. Also, when the repair was done is important as if it was a while ago then the new parts may not be that obvious.

If it is done well and the car is sound then i reckon it's quite a good buy, but you really need to have your eyes open and ideally another F next to it to cross compare with.

*Check panel gaps closely
*Check paint finishes closely (evidence of overspray, poor blending, under paint rust)
*If it was a front impact, remove underbonnet shroud panel and look for creases in the bulkhead.
*If it was a rear shunt, remove carpet in boot and look for creases in the metalwork (particularly boot floor)
*Lift footwell carpets if possible and check for creases in the cabin floorpan.
*Take it for an EXTENDED test drive, checking for vibrations, noises, odd behaviour (pulling to the left/right) in as many different situations/speeds as possible
*Definitely do an HPi check
*I would also recommend an AA / RAC inspection (could be money very well spent)
*Do some research, find out when and who repaired car and if they have a good reputation.
*If possible get a 4 wheel alignment check done (preferably independant of the vendor)

Good Luck

Scarlet Fever

All good advice here but caution..or you could loose a friend, use a approved motoring organisation, as suggested or a independant motor engineer that way if the car turns out to be hiding a poor repair you will have some recourse. Watch the small print.BTW I haven't seen a job done by 'insurance approved' repairer that has been satisfactory first time.


Many thanks for the advise......I was all too aware that it was going to be a difficult job, the info provided supports this entirely. If it is that my friend is still keen on buying the car (if still ok after all of above checks completed) I will advise an AA check or even a 'Satur Survey' (copyright Rob Copeland 2003) to make 100%sure. However, I have a feeling from speaking to the sales guy that things won't get that far. No service history and repair info seems alittle vague....i'll keep you informed in the name of interest!

Thanks again!

Mike: got the report on my motor! Thanks! Will have to ask Santa for an advance!

Stay away, as you have mentioned no service history either. MG can go very very wrong with bad services.
Hanah Kim

Might also be worth asking previous owners, more importantly the owner at the time of the accident and get his slant on it. He no longer has the car, so he will more than likely be 100% accurate in detailing accident damage, repairs, niggles etc etc etc.
I have had many calls from people buying some of my old trade -ins and I have no issues in being frank and honest with them.
The garage should be able to give you the past 2 owners details from the V5 document.
Glandular Fever

This thread was discussed between 12/11/2003 and 14/11/2003

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