Author Topic: Cars with Rebuilt Titles  (Read 939 times)

wkumtrider

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Cars with Rebuilt Titles
« on: February 12, 2018, 01:52:29 PM »
Has anyone ever purchased a used car with a rebuilt title?  I am in the market for a used car and I see quite a few with rebuilt titles for little money.  I know it depends on the extent and type of damage, but I worry that it will be a lemon soon after it is purchased.  Just trying to see what others have done and what kind of luck people have had that purchased a rebuilt title car.

Thanks!

ZMonet

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Re: Cars with Rebuilt Titles
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2018, 04:31:58 PM »
I've lusted after a few rebuilt title cars and done some research on the subject.  It basically comes to a major gamble that you can somewhat mitigate if you know a lot about cars and know specifically why the vehicle has rebuilt title.  There is a major difference between different type of collision damage.  Also, you basically need to be prepared to have the vehicle for its entire life -- however long that is -- as resale will be difficult.  Finally, you can't rely on the fact that it has rebuilt title as some sort of certification that it won't be a lemon.

Sorry I can't give you any personal experiences with rebuilt cars.  You might take a look at this website that supposedly tells you the type of damage a vehicle has.  I would think a vehicle that was stolen and then totaled out by the insurance company, largely because of aesthetic damage and the fact it was stolen, would be the best bet.

 https://www.copart.com/

JLee

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Re: Cars with Rebuilt Titles
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2018, 04:39:32 PM »
I wouldn't buy one unless I didn't care about resale value or insurance coverage, and only after thoroughly inspecting what was repaired (and knowing the extent of the prior damage).

I would never buy a flood salvage car unless I planned on replacing every piece of electronics (including all wiring), which...is not going to happen.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Cars with Rebuilt Titles
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2018, 04:47:19 PM »
It means different things in different states. In my state it means damages exceeding 70% of the car's value. This means an economy car wrecked after it was a couple years old might have had very minor damage (e.g. airbags alone might be $4k. Throw in a bumper skin or hood and you have 70% of a 2y/o Civic.). On the other hand a late model luxury SUV with a salvage title was probably hit by a train or burned.

You would rather have a car that was in a collision than a flooded car.

My dad bought a salvage car that turns out to have been flooded. Several frustrating electrical problems later, it became a reliable car. Problem is, he paid too much for it. YMMV. 20-25% is the standard discount. This usually leaves plenty of room for any subsequent part failures, so I'd take the gamble.

ChpBstrd

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Re: Cars with Rebuilt Titles
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2018, 04:53:07 PM »
Regarding resale value, this is actually a factor working in your favor because of the 20% rule.

Suppose you plan to buy a car for $10k and drive it till it's worth half that five years from now. Depreciation = $5k.

Suppose instead you buy the car with a salvage title for $8k ($10k minus 20%) and sell it in 5 years for $4k ($5k minus 20%). Depreciation = $4k.

wkumtrider

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Re: Cars with Rebuilt Titles
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2018, 05:15:36 PM »
Thanks for the replies.  I have my eye on a 2014 Mazda3 hatchback with 58,000 miles.  Asking $8800.  Owner claims it was minor front end damage, no air bags deployed.  It looks good in the pictures but could be a different story in person. 

JLee

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Re: Cars with Rebuilt Titles
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2018, 05:55:02 PM »
Regarding resale value, this is actually a factor working in your favor because of the 20% rule.

Suppose you plan to buy a car for $10k and drive it till it's worth half that five years from now. Depreciation = $5k.

Suppose instead you buy the car with a salvage title for $8k ($10k minus 20%) and sell it in 5 years for $4k ($5k minus 20%). Depreciation = $4k.

That's assuming you can sell it for $4k.  If I was looking at $4-5k cars, I would generally rather pay $5k for one that hasn't been totaled than $4k for one that has. It's not just the resale value itself - it's the ability to sell it at all.

JLee

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Re: Cars with Rebuilt Titles
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2018, 05:56:37 PM »
Thanks for the replies.  I have my eye on a 2014 Mazda3 hatchback with 58,000 miles.  Asking $8800.  Owner claims it was minor front end damage, no air bags deployed.  It looks good in the pictures but could be a different story in person.

https://phoenix.craigslist.org/cph/ctd/d/2014-mazda-mazda3-4dr-sdn-man/6482247296.html

Here's a 2 owner accident-free 2014 Mazda3 (sedan) with 87k for $8700.

lbmustache

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Re: Cars with Rebuilt Titles
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2018, 06:35:39 PM »
Thanks for the replies.  I have my eye on a 2014 Mazda3 hatchback with 58,000 miles.  Asking $8800.  Owner claims it was minor front end damage, no air bags deployed.  It looks good in the pictures but could be a different story in person.

Everyone always says that. "Minor damage" does not = a rebuilt car ;)

Be wary of flood-damaged cars from the hurricanes last year. There are plenty of articles online about it.

Michael in ABQ

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Re: Cars with Rebuilt Titles
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2018, 09:22:43 AM »
My car was totaled after I got clipped on the right rear quarter panel. A work truck with a big bed basically scraped up against me when he couldn't stop in time. Popped my tire and tore up that panel with a some damage to the bumper and a bit of damage to the door. A bit of pounding and the door could open fine again and it was basically just cosmetic. Insurance company still gave me what I felt was far more than I could have sold the car for (15-year old Ford Escort). When someone rear-ended me a year later then it was really totaled. I still got a pretty nice check from the insurance company despite the salvage title.


I still remember laying in a parking lot outside my friend's apartment in the rain while we spent hours trying to get a cross member under the engine back in place on an old Jetta he bought with a salvage title. It was fine until we took that off to replace an engine mount. Then that fact that it was twisted and no longer fit became apparent. We spent a whole lot of time prying and pounding before we could finally get the bolts to line up again and put it back together. That provided a valuable lesson to me that just because you can't see the damage to the frame doesn't mean it's not there.

On the other hand, a car can be stolen and when recovered have a salvage title. In that case it may be nothing more than a dirty interior.

wkumtrider

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Re: Cars with Rebuilt Titles
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2018, 09:31:30 AM »
I did not think about the resale value of a rebuilt title car.  I usually buy cars and run them into the ground before I replace them. I have decided to look at cars with clean titles based on the comments here.  Thanks for the feedback.

Car Jack

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Re: Cars with Rebuilt Titles
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2018, 01:40:38 PM »
Depends on the state.  In Massachusetts, the rebuilder has to bring the car in front of the State Police with receipts for every single thing that is on the insurance list for replacement.  If a flood car, all the electronics have to be replaced and connectors re-pinned or replaced.  This is an extensive amount of work and very expensive to do.

In some of the poorer southern states, you basically bring a napkin to the DMV that says "I fixt it" and they say it's all good to go.

In general, a rebuilt title car is worth 50-60% of the clean title value.  Some insurance companies won't insure them and if it's a relatively new car, it no longer will be covered by the manufacturer's warranty.

There are rebuilt title cars that can be worth considering.  Lotus Elise and Exige will be totaled from something as small as hitting a raccoon.  The "clam" is pretty much the entire front end.  Lotus says they can't be repaired because they're an integral part of the crash structure, so only replacement is allowed.  Back orders from England are longer than most insurance companies allow for repair, so the car gets totaled and sold at auction.  You MUST know the history and have before pictures of these cars because the chassis is bonded aluminum and cannot be repaired.  If there's a bend movement of a suspension pick up point, the car is scrap.