Each year an 2.5 million cars are wrecked, and 1 million of them end up back on the road, many wihtout the airbag being replaced. Unscrupulous repair people will not replace the $800 airbag, but include that amount in the repair invoice. If the car had previous accidents, or other title flaws such as "Junked", "Salvaged", "Rebuilt", you should have a mechanic verify the airbags are properly installed. Sometimes the CARFAX report can tell you if the airbag was deployed in an accident, if police investigators check it off in the accident report.
VIN Numbers & the Stolen car scam
The 17 digit VIN# (Vehicle Identification Number) appears on all cars, and is found in the dashboard on a metal strip. In the 70's and 80's (before the 17 digit numbers came into effect) car thieves would alter the numbers, file them down, remove the tag, or replace it with a VIN tag from another car.
Many manufacturers place the VIN# inside the driver side door on a factory sticker, as well as on the passenger door, the trunk, the hood, and sometimes the engine and other major parts have one, or it's engraved. If the VIN# doesn't match for all car components, then the car was stolen, or junked & rebuilt.
If a car is damaged in an accident, an unscrupulous dealer can buy it at a salvage auction, and transfer the VIN Number to a good condition stolen vehicle, and sell a "hot" car as a used vehicle. The only way to uncover this scam is to check the VINs on all panels of the car to make sure they match. Careful thieves however, can do a good job, and change all of them!
Used Cars from an Accident
It's highly not recommended to buy a car after an accident, especially after frontal collision:
To protect yourself from buying a car after an accident, you need to do some research to find out about previous accidents the vehicle had been involved in. Provincial motor vehicles registry should be able to help with this.
Sometimes cars have had their odometers tampered with, and sometimes a car is sold as having 30,000 kilometres on it, when it was actually driven for 130,000 and is on its second go-round. Add a stipulation on the bill of sale that your money will be refunded in full if you discover at any time that the vehicle has been the subject of odometer tampering. Or if the car is seized as the result of a police investigation related to events before your purchase. If the seller refuses to sign it, make sure to ask why.