Author Topic: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?  (Read 4922 times)

onemorebike

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In all of the reading I've done on the MMM blog I haven't read anything about salvage title. My wife and I purchased a 2004 Subaru Outback at half the price about four years ago because it was a salvage title vehicle that had been restored by a guy who buys them at auction and then fixes them up. We had it inspected, had photos of the crash, and the car has been great for the past four years.

Anyway, just wondering why it isn't really discussed here? It is extra badass because you are unlikely to get a loan to buy a salvage title so you HAVE to pay cash to buy the car.

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Nords

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2013, 10:17:04 PM »
In all of the reading I've done on the MMM blog I haven't read anything about salvage title. My wife and I purchased a 2004 Subaru Outback at half the price about four years ago because it was a salvage title vehicle that had been restored by a guy who buys them at auction and then fixes them up. We had it inspected, had photos of the crash, and the car has been great for the past four years.
I've always steered clear of salvage titles because (around here anyway) it's difficult to detect significant frame damage or to tell whether the salvage was due to flooding (electrical shorts/corrosion).  Cheap beaters are plentiful by comparison.
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onemorebike

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2013, 06:46:50 AM »
I could see how flooding could be an issue.

It is why I liked this shop's policy of taking pictures of it before they put humpty back together. With the photos of the impact, I brought the car into a mechanic and they looked it over, specifically the frame to make sure it was intact and got the green light.

I think you definitely have to be more thorough to purchase salvage title but what are Mustachians if not thorough and thoughtful?

The other thing to keep in mind here is that sometimes, actually probably MOST of the time, it is way cheaper for the insurance company to dump a car (give it a salvage title) than repair even some of the lightest cosmetic damage to a car. I've seen beautifully functioning, hail damaged cars that insurance companies decided to scrap instead of fix, how ridiculous!

Well, I shouldn't complain too much about their policy, should my current salvage title ever kick the bucket I'll be in the market for another one and need stupid insurance company policies to provide me an army to choose from.

Christiana

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2013, 07:07:16 AM »
We looked at salvage title cars for our last car purchase, but they were all newer cars, and out of our price range for buying with cash, so we went with a regular used car.

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2013, 07:26:46 AM »
My car has a salvage title, but the car was

1) sold to me by a friend of a friend
2) in the wreck over 3 years ago when I bought it and the owner had been driving it just fine since it had been repaired. And I could trust that because of 1).

Tread carefully if you are considering making such a purchase, because the lower price might just rush you into making a rash decision.
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mpbaker22

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2013, 07:35:17 AM »
My car was owned by my parents before being totaled by hail.
A 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid for $4,000 - I'll take it!

Rural

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2013, 07:40:45 AM »
In my state it's prohibitively expensive to rehab a salvage title if you're an individual (one of a very limited number of state-approved shops must do all the repairs and certify them, and then the car must be towed, not driven, to a state inspection facility to maybe be approved -- no fixing it yourself, no deciding not to fix cosmetic damage).

That said, I have gotten a sizable discount on a used car from a lot in the past when I discovered through Carmax that it had previously had a salvage title and had been rehabbed. The car had been a trade-in on a newer used car, and the lot knew they wouldn't have much hope of selling it to anyone else.

BlueMR2

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2013, 10:55:12 AM »
Salvage title cars are a relatively common way to save a few $$$ where I'm from.  Insurance companies are writing off cars that really have pretty much minimal damage due to the fact that labor costs are so ridiculously high these days.  Here we're allowed to do our own repairs.  It does have to get inspected before it can be licensed again, but the inspectors are fair.  If you do the work right, no problem.  If it's unsafe, well, then you don't get to drive it until it's right.  That said, it's not a major issue since so many of the salvage title cars just need a few body panels, a couple suspension parts and a paint job.

Why do cars get totalled so easily?  Well, in today's world everyone wants everything *perfect* and won't deal with even the slightest paint mismatch.  That requires a full pull paint job.  I got a full paint quote from a shop for my small 2 seater car last year (after 22 years the paint is fading some, go figure)  :-).  Estimate is $6,000-8,000!  The actual painting and supplies was only $500-1000.  The remainder of that was all the labor of disassembly/reassembly!  If you do that yourself and just have them paint the parts...  :-)

Dee18

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2013, 01:00:35 PM »
Recent articles have warned you have to be careful not to buy a car that was flooded in Sandy.  See, for example:
http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/02/buyer-beware-cars-flooded-by-hurricane-could-turn-up-on-the-market/

Apparently some of them are shipped far away where buyers are less likely to consider flood damage.

onemorebike

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2013, 01:55:08 PM »
Dee18, the same happened after Katrina - always proceed with "buyer beware"!

Done by Forty

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2013, 07:46:05 PM »
My wife and I exclusively buy restored title cars now.  Due diligence is required but the savings are worth the work.  Kudos for you for being open to it.

kendallf

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2013, 08:31:15 PM »
I'd only do this if the rebuilder kept detailed photos and parts replaced lists.  I almost bought a salvage title vehicle a couple of years ago, and the guys who rebuilt it have a business doing this; they take photos before and after, and do things like buy multiple vehicles to make a couple of good ones. 

I was looking at a Lexus IS250, and they bought three, used some front end parts off of one rear collision "donor" to fix the one I was interested in, and were cutting the roof structure out of the "donor" car to fix another rollover car when I visited.  All of the work appeared excellent.  I'd be leery of the roll-over car as they had to re-wire about half of the car (at least R&R harnesses and the dash) to do the job, and in my experience, such cars almost always end up with some minor electrical gremlins eventually.
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Rangifer

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2013, 08:32:35 PM »
Whether or not this is a good idea depends on what your price range is. I'd almost never buy a 1-4 year old salvage title vehicle without pictures and a serious inspection. Reason being that it is either a flood car or it had a large amount of damage. Think about it, what's to stop a shady shop from stuffing newspaper where the airbags go and jumping the sensors so the car thinks they are still functional? And typically, cars are totaled out when damage is 50-70% of the cars value. So if you are looking at a 15k car, that's 7.5-11k of damage.

SwordGuy

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2013, 10:21:35 AM »
My car was owned by my parents before being totaled by hail.
A 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid for $4,000 - I'll take it!

Both our perfectly running cars were totaled by hail damage.  Purely cosmetic damage.

We made $10,000 on the deal, and that was after we bought back the salvage titles for about $2,000 apiece.

What a great deal that was!   We did all kinds of maintenance on our house that we had been putting off for some years.  Plus we got most of a new home roof from the hail damage settlement, too.

All hail that hail!

Jamesqf

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2013, 11:57:12 AM »
Not all salvage title cars are even accident damage.  Mine was a theft recovery: only damage was a couple of small rips in the rubber gasket around the window.  It's been running fine for going on 9 years now.

poko

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #15 on: February 11, 2013, 12:17:14 PM »
Not all salvage title cars are even accident damage.  Mine was a theft recovery: only damage was a couple of small rips in the rubber gasket around the window.  It's been running fine for going on 9 years now.

Came in to say the same thing. Got a 5 year old Honda Civic for $6k that way .. only missing some dash panels that were easily replaced. This was back in 2004. I still have it and it's still going strong..ish!

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2013, 09:29:12 PM »
One thing to consider though, is the resell is going to be low as well. So unless you plan on running it to the ground it might not be worth it. You might end up losing the same amount, say, if you own the car for 5 years (a normal vs a salvage title). In that case is it worth the extra risk of having a salvage? I looked at a few salvages and decided against it, because I didn't want to risk it. I might reconsider for my next purchase though if I could find a great deal if there isn't any structural damage (even a little structural damage can mean it falling apart if you got in an accident and that puts your life at risk).

onemorebike

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #17 on: February 11, 2013, 10:38:04 PM »
I can't think of a reason to resell a car that still goes from A to B and back again. Especially one that I don't have payments on, am I missing something here?



One thing to consider though, is the resell is going to be low as well. So unless you plan on running it to the ground it might not be worth it. You might end up losing the same amount, say, if you own the car for 5 years (a normal vs a salvage title). In that case is it worth the extra risk of having a salvage? I looked at a few salvages and decided against it, because I didn't want to risk it. I might reconsider for my next purchase though if I could find a great deal if there isn't any structural damage (even a little structural damage can mean it falling apart if you got in an accident and that puts your life at risk).

SwordGuy

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #18 on: February 12, 2013, 09:14:06 AM »
I can't think of a reason to resell a car that still goes from A to B and back again. Especially one that I don't have payments on, am I missing something here?



One thing to consider though, is the resell is going to be low as well. So unless you plan on running it to the ground it might not be worth it. You might end up losing the same amount, say, if you own the car for 5 years (a normal vs a salvage title). In that case is it worth the extra risk of having a salvage? I looked at a few salvages and decided against it, because I didn't want to risk it. I might reconsider for my next purchase though if I could find a great deal if there isn't any structural damage (even a little structural damage can mean it falling apart if you got in an accident and that puts your life at risk).

I agree with you.  If you're paid-for, still-reliably-running vehicle qualifies for the $500 courtesy trade in from the dealer, you didn't drive it long enough.

Spork

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2013, 09:14:44 AM »
Okay, I have to admit, I would NEVER have considered a salvage title.... so... Any idea what to look for here if I do?  I actually do see a viable salvage Honda Fit on Craigslist.  It is definitely way over priced (for a salvage) ... but assuming one could get that adjusted, what would you look for?

Normally I'd look for any indication of accidents, a decent carfax report and indications that it was well maintained.  With a salvage title, I'm assuming you're throwing out 2 of the 3 right from the start.

Spork

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #20 on: February 12, 2013, 09:17:40 AM »

I agree with you.  If you're paid-for, still-reliably-running vehicle qualifies for the $500 courtesy trade in from the dealer, you didn't drive it long enough.

I mostly agree.... but not quite.  I've got a fuel pig that costs me enough to drive that I can replace it based on about 2.5 years of fuel savings.  In effect, I drive a Ford Facepunch.

But generally I agree with the sentiment here.

TLV

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #21 on: February 12, 2013, 11:15:23 AM »
I can't think of a reason to resell a car that still goes from A to B and back again. Especially one that I don't have payments on, am I missing something here?

If you buy a larger car because you have more kids such that you can't fit everyone in the old car, and you don't want to own 2 cars.

Though that may be a stretch, since the larger car will likely be less efficient, so it may be worth it to keep the smaller car for driving without the whole family. Perhaps when you have enough kids to justify upgrading a minivan to a full-size?

thurston howell iv

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #22 on: February 12, 2013, 12:01:38 PM »
Salvage cars are really popular here where I live. Even some of the more high end stuff (like caddy)...

We purchased a salvage title car a few years back and it was fine. Drove it around a bit and sold it. (re-selling was slightly tougher than a clean title due to so many people being scared of the title)

There's tons of sites where you can buy the cars still wrecked. If you can rebuild or have a shop rebuild one for you, it could be a way to get a newer/nicer car much cheaper. My local body shop bought a wrecked baby benz for their daughter and repaired it for a fraction of the cost to buy. Some of the sites even sell them already rebuilt.  (ideally, as stated above, with some pics of the before and after)

If you're shopping for one of these cars, I would avoid flood damage cars altogether- too much potential for issues. I'd also avoid front end collisions because air bags and their electronics get expensive. 



stachedude

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #23 on: February 20, 2013, 10:40:54 AM »
There are a couple problems I have with salvaged titles.
1) Insurance is WAY more expensive. (usually 2-3X more) Some insurance companies don't even insure salvaged cars because the risk is too high!
2) If your car is in an accident again, will the insurance company pay for repairs?
3) If the car is re-totaled, and your insurance company claims to offer collision and comprehensive coverage on the car, how do you determine the value of the car before the accident? There are much fewer comparable vehicles that have salvaged titles and the prices that are listed / sold vary significantly.
3b) How much can you sell the car for later down the road?
4) Warranties (extended or manufacturer) won't cover damage caused by an accident. If the alignment is way off or something else is wrong as a result of an accident, you have to pay out of pocket if you want it fixed!
4b) Sometimes the car is salvaged by a cheap weld job. If this is the case, fixing the car properly is very expensive. ( Think $3000-6000 depending on model)

The other problem I have is.
5) After the frame is damaged, then bent back into place-- how does this affect the integrity of the car? How much more damage to the vehicle and to its' occupants will result in a salvaged car being in an accident as opposed to one that didn't have the frame bent back in place? (The answer is probably why insurance is very high)


Steering clear of salvage cars at purchase time is difficult
1) I have found that most dealerships that don't offer a free carfax have terrible cars for sale. At least half are salvage titles. My new policy is to never even call them.
2) Some carfax reports don't have a complete history of the car. This is because if a car is titled (or retitled) in another country, carfax only looks at the information since it was registered in the good 'ol USA. Look for a "Vehicle manufactured" date on the carfax and make sure there aren't ownership gaps.
3) Many cars that are totaled don't have the information reported to Carfax! I was in an accident that totaled my car. The salvage company told me that it can be difficult to spot a car that is salvaged. Before making a purchase, he recommended I bring it. He told me he could tell in 5 min at no cost! (that's super mustachian!) Experts are better at finding new paint jobs and detecting if the frame was bent.



Individual results may vary. My experience is that a car with a salvage title is inexpensive to purchase, but that it often costs MUCH more in the long run!

Jamesqf

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2013, 11:33:14 AM »
If you are a Mustachian, or trying to be, why would you A) Buy a car that you feel you need to carry collision & comprehensive insurance on; and B) Worry about resale value?  You drive it 'til it wears out, then sell for parts/scrap.

onemorebike

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #25 on: February 20, 2013, 02:20:47 PM »
There are a couple problems I have with salvaged titles.
1) Insurance is WAY more expensive. (usually 2-3X more) Some insurance companies don't even insure salvaged cars because the risk is too high!
This isn't necessarily true, especially if you are getting the least amount of insurance possible.
2) If your car is in an accident again, will the insurance company pay for repairs?
Yes. My coverage is for the salvaged value of the car, so less coverage but also lower costs.
3) If the car is re-totaled, and your insurance company claims to offer collision and comprehensive coverage on the car, how do you determine the value of the car before the accident?
Purchase value? There is actually a formula for evaluating the value of a salvage vehicle - but I really think the overall savings on purchasing one far outweigh this concern.
There are much fewer comparable vehicles that have salvaged titles and the prices that are listed / sold vary significantly.
3b) How much can you sell the car for later down the road?
I plan on driving it until it can't go another mile. Even if I decided to resell, it would be reselling a salvage title so at X percent of the value of a car that wasn't, at that year, model and area of the country. Relative to purchase cost, this shouldn't factor.
4) Warranties (extended or manufacturer) won't cover damage caused by an accident. If the alignment is way off or something else is wrong as a result of an accident, you have to pay out of pocket if you want it fixed!
Warranties!!!???
4b) Sometimes the car is salvaged by a cheap weld job. If this is the case, fixing the car properly is very expensive. ( Think $3000-6000 depending on model)
The type of salvage is important here, for mine, I bought one that primarily had body damage (not frame), after 3-4 years of use I've only noticed a few pieces of plastic the popped in on the cheap that have had no impact on the way it drives.
The other problem I have is.
5) After the frame is damaged, then bent back into place-- how does this affect the integrity of the car? How much more damage to the vehicle and to its' occupants will result in a salvaged car being in an accident as opposed to one that didn't have the frame bent back in place? (The answer is probably why insurance is very high)
I think being selective in the type of salvage title is key here. Frame damage is a big no no. Insurance isn't higher for me, where do you live that this is a problem?

Steering clear of salvage cars at purchase time is difficult
1) I have found that most dealerships that don't offer a free carfax have terrible cars for sale. At least half are salvage titles. My new policy is to never even call them.
2) Some carfax reports don't have a complete history of the car. This is because if a car is titled (or retitled) in another country, carfax only looks at the information since it was registered in the good 'ol USA. Look for a "Vehicle manufactured" date on the carfax and make sure there aren't ownership gaps.
3) Many cars that are totaled don't have the information reported to Carfax! I was in an accident that totaled my car. The salvage company told me that it can be difficult to spot a car that is salvaged. Before making a purchase, he recommended I bring it. He told me he could tell in 5 min at no cost! (that's super mustachian!) Experts are better at finding new paint jobs and detecting if the frame was bent.



Individual results may vary. My experience is that a car with a salvage title is inexpensive to purchase, but that it often costs MUCH more in the long run!
Have you owned one you are speaking about? What happened to discourage you so? Buying a salvage title car isn't for the weak at heart but with a little bit of common sense, a dash of research, and a boatload of mustachianism, buying salvage title cars can be an extremely rewarding experience.

BlueMR2

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #26 on: February 21, 2013, 10:10:10 AM »
4) Warranties (extended or manufacturer) won't cover damage caused by an accident. If the alignment is way off or something else is wrong as a result of an accident, you have to pay out of pocket if you want it fixed!
4b) Sometimes the car is salvaged by a cheap weld job. If this is the case, fixing the car properly is very expensive. ( Think $3000-6000 depending on model)

The other problem I have is.
5) After the frame is damaged, then bent back into place-- how does this affect the integrity of the car? How much more damage to the vehicle and to its' occupants will result in a salvaged car being in an accident as opposed to one that didn't have the frame bent back in place? (The answer is probably why insurance is very high)

Steering clear of salvage cars at purchase time is difficult
3) Many cars that are totaled don't have the information reported to Carfax! I was in an accident that totaled my car. The salvage company told me that it can be difficult to spot a car that is salvaged. Before making a purchase, he recommended I bring it. He told me he could tell in 5 min at no cost! (that's super mustachian!) Experts are better at finding new paint jobs and detecting if the frame was bent.

4) If you're buying a car that has a warranty, you're not being terribly frugal.  Warranties are a form of insurance.  It's going to cost you more in the long run.  They don't give out warranties to *lose* money...
4b) $6000 is not chump change, but if you can get the car for $10,000 less than it would be worth otherwise, it may be the way to go anyways.  Don't let individual numbers scare you off, look at the totality (pun intended :-) ) of the situation to find the best value.
5) I'm not afraid of frame repairs, as long as they were done by people that know what they're doing.  I've got a number of body shop friends that drive cars that they've stitched together from multiple totally destroyed cars and have been driving for decades.  I myself have one that had to go on the frame rack where we did a cold pull (over the course of a month).  It's perfect straight and I have faith in the repairs.

Next section:
3) That "totaled" VW bug down the street with the salvage title may have just had a bent fender whereas that clean titled cadillac may have had frame repairs done, but not ended up being tagged as salvage title due to the cost/price equation.  Also, be aware that not all damaged cars will have any sort of record at all.  If a person chooses to just fix the car themselves without using the insurance company, then there never would have been an official determination of value, and hence no triggering of "totaling" and "salvage title" processes.  A common thing with low value cars owned by skilled body shop guys/mechanics.

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #27 on: February 27, 2013, 08:27:06 PM »
Whether it is a salvage title or some other reason, if you can find a good quality car that the rest of the world thinks is junk, then you scored big!  I bought a chrysler sebring for super cheap because most people read the reviews online and think it is junk.  For some reason Chryslers depreciate super quick.  But you have to remember that most of the reviews are by people wanting to compare the rental car they got for their one week disney vacation to the bmw they have at home.  I don't need a car that is "quiet and comfortable" I need a car that will get me from point to point reliably and cheaply.  enter the right salvage car or any other car that is " out of favor with everyone else" and you can score mugo mustache growth hormone.

William

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #28 on: March 02, 2013, 04:39:13 PM »
I know a lot of gearheads (myself being one) and 99% of us will never recommend buying a car with a salvage title.  I've been tempted to do it but frame issues and issues that will be discovered long after the crash make it not worth it.  Plus, the resale of your car will be terrible even if the purchase price is low.  So basically you are saving money but you won't get much when you sell it on.  In the meantime, you could pay more for a car and sell it for more later and have the peace of mind of having your car not be wrecked.  This applies if you are buying a new-ish car.

If buying a 10yr plus old car, then the price difference between salvage and non-salvage is so little since the overall price of car is so little.  So don't buy a junk car.
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Frank of Denmark

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Re: Salvage Title: Why isn't this on the books as badass transportation?
« Reply #29 on: March 06, 2013, 03:15:55 PM »
My car is does not have a salvage title, but i still thinks it is highly mustachian. The car is a 1995 vw polo with a 1,3 liter engine and manual transmission. My step-father bought it in 1998, a few years later my brother bought it and then i bought from my brother. I paid 16000 danish kroner for it. That is 2797,35 dollars. I have been the happy owner for 8 years ( chest thump!) The paint is a faded red, because sunlight and red paint are not friendly with each other. Some people call it "ugly", i call it" theft protection". The same people have called it
"a shitty, old, outdated relic that should have been put out of its misery. I like the fact that the parts are cheap and reliable. I can even change the lightbulbs on my own(Yipee!), and i dont need any special or magic skills to understand the Haynes manual that i bought as reference guide to the repairs i knew nothing about. The odometer goes back to zero when you have driven more than 300.000 km and i have driven 30.000 more. I can transport my kayak on the roofrack with ease. Surely i say unto thee, i dwell in car heaven.

Frank