Author Topic: What the heck CA? All your cars are salvaged automatics!?  (Read 4719 times)

neighbor

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What the heck CA? All your cars are salvaged automatics!?
« on: June 29, 2014, 01:45:23 PM »
I'm looking on craigslist to get an idea of what to expect when I start car shopping in August/September and dang if I don't feel like Rip Van Winkel waking up in an alternate future. I've been car-free for 3 years (and living overseas) and before that, I drove a 1989 Toyota Camry Wagon for about… 6+ years (ford escort wagon before that - all manual trans). I didn't notice the slow creep.

What happened, America, that you don't know how to drive manual transmissions anymore?
I guess we ARE heading toward driverless cars? and a Wall-E future?

My biggest sense of the weird, though, is that around half (more?) of the ads I'm seeing are SALVAGE title which strikes me as shady (because of the quantity). Is it simply that sellers never used to be required to admit to damage that would require repairs for more than the car's value? A change in legal stuff and now they're showing their true percentage of the car population? Or is it that there's a plethora of flood damaged vehicle that need to be sold to the unsuspecting Californians who can't conceive of enough water to ruin a car?

Is there such a thing as good salvage vs. bad salvage?

Between these two issues, the cars I'd be interested in are few and far between.

Anyone have suggestions (other than move out of California)? I feel like I'm trying to find the proverbial needle…

Thanks!
« Last Edit: June 30, 2014, 08:02:57 AM by neighbor »

Glenstache

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Re: What the heck CA? All your cars are salvaged automatics!?
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2014, 03:18:56 PM »

"Caveat Emptor"

Look into what CA requires for codes for salvage titles. The codes associated with salvage titles in WA are pretty vague, but distinguish between a few broad categories (odometer issues, flood, mechanical limits, etc). Things like flood you probably don't want to touch with a muddy stick. But, some mechanical ones can be cars that the owners wouldn't/couldn't pay to fix, so a shop took title from the car, fixed it and then sold it. This can be fine, or a car that was ridden hard and has other issues just around the corner. Carfax is well worth it for those vehicles. It will also be tougher to sell, should you go that route.

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hermoninny

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Re: What the heck CA? All your cars are salvaged automatics!?
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2014, 04:41:38 PM »
We had a really hard time finding a used manual truck for DH when he downgraded from the gas-guzzling clown truck he used to drive.  (we're in Los Angeles). He blames Cash for Clunkers for severely diminishing the used car population because those cars had to be destroyed.  Not sure if it's true or not, just what he said.


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former player

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Re: What the heck CA? All your cars are salvaged automatics!?
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2014, 11:52:58 PM »
I've got a salvage car.  I saw it before it was repaired (lowest category of write off, slow front end crash, engine and chassis undamaged) at a garage that was recommended to me 14 years ago and which I've used ever since.  I've had the car 3 years, it cost nicely below blue book, looks as good as new and is mechanically trouble free.  I will run it until it's scrap so I don't need to worry about potential difficulties reselling. 

If you can see the vehicle before the repair, trust the garage that's doing the work and aren't planning on a resale, salvage can be a good way to go.  Otherwise, buyer beware.

neighbor

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Re: What the heck CA? All your cars are salvaged automatics!?
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2014, 05:45:10 AM »
The Cash for Clunkers program is obviously responsible for taking older cars off the road, including probably a lot of stick shifts… I'd forgotten about that.

@formerplayer - how did you happen to find the car BEFORE repairs? Come to think of it maybe people do put damaged cars up for sale? I've just tended to skip them, but maybe that's a viable option. I'll have to think about that…

former player

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Re: What the heck CA? All your cars are salvaged automatics!?
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2014, 06:31:21 AM »
@formerplayer - how did you happen to find the car BEFORE repairs? Come to think of it maybe people do put damaged cars up for sale? I've just tended to skip them, but maybe that's a viable option. I'll have to think about that…

Try googling /salvage auction/salvage sales/insurance damaged cars for sale/ for your area.  I was lucky in that the garage owner is a long-standing friend, knew I needed a new car (I was selling the classic 2 seater I had for 28 years for something more practical) and was on the look out for something suitable he could repair for me.  I am not in any way car savvy beyond the basic oil/water/tyres, but being friends with a high-class bodywork restorer has paid dividends over the years.

nereo

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Re: What the heck CA? All your cars are salvaged automatics!?
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2014, 07:34:32 AM »
Can't say much about salvaged cars, but I've been through several searches for manuals in California, nad can tell you what I've learned, read and been told.

Back in the good 'ol days (cue sepia-toned flashback scene) - say, 20+ years ago, automatic transmissions cost several thousand$ more than manual transmissions, and they got much worse fuel economy.  Now fastforward to the 21st century, and while it's true manual transmissions still cost a bit more and get slightly worse fuel economy, those two gaps have narrowed considerably.

When researching cars sold in the US (and particularly in California), I was amazed at how many car models simply do not offer their manual transmission version in California.  For many models, you simply cannot get a new car with manual transmission at any dealership, even though the same car might offer a manual transmission overseas or in central/south America.  This of course means there aren't as many mustachian manual-transmission used cars out there on craigslist.org

This bugged the crap out of me, so I asked lots of different people this question, from my mechanic to car dealership sale's reps to a few motorheads of mine. The explanations they collectively gave boiled down into the following reasons
1) Fuel prices in the US are comparatively cheap, so the 'savings' from driving a manual transmission has been a non-issue for most. Americans have been notoriously slow to care about MPG ratings at all.
2) The gap between the extra cost for an automatic and the difference in fuel economy has narrowed so much that it's a non-issue, particularly since most new cars are financed, and we are really bad at understanding that an extra $22/month (for the automatic, fancy-car edition) on a 5 year car loan is actually a really big deal.
3) In the US (and especially in California) the expectations for what's included in a car are higher than anywhere else.  Here we expect to have a/c, power windows, a decent radio we can plug our iPod into, etc in our base models.  In other markets these cars would be the luxury editions.  The no-frills trim line found in other countries simply aren't sold here in the US.  This has extended to manual transmission cars
4) Since manual cars are relatively rare here, it's set up a feed-back loop, where teenagers never learn to drive a manual because daddy/mommy didn't own one, so they will only buy an automatic when they make their first car purchase.

First world problems, eh?
I'd just like to point out the reasons listed above are for the people the marketers really care about - the non-mustachian clown consumers. 

neighbor

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Re: What the heck CA? All your cars are salvaged automatics!?
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2014, 08:02:27 AM »
nereo,
thanks for the info-rich reply!

Not having kept up in the automotive world, I was wondering if maybe automatics were getting better gas mileage these days - seems that while they may be somewhat, for a mustachian (which I never knew was a demographic group until last week, gawd, I feel like I've found MY PEOPLE!!)… ahem, anyway, for a mustachian, stick shift is to be preferred for the mpg and other reasons

like: it's just such fun to drive a car in an engaged manner (when one must drive) and drive it WELL.

On a positive note, my 17 year old (who hasn't learned to drive yet because we're currently in Germany) looked appalled when I mentioned the dearth of stick shifts and said, "mama, I have to learn on a manual, automatic is just so… eww!).

Anecdote about MMM's comment on Europeans being smarter than Americans in the realm of cars (which they are)…  4/5ths of all cars we see here are hatchbacks and wagons AND they're all manual transmissions (wish I could ship one home). Anyway, once, when I rented a car, the rental guy, knowing I was American, snickered as he walked me out to the car and said, "it's not an automatic, can you still drive it?"

hell yeah!

He was genuinely surprised that I could.

neighbor

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Re: What the heck CA? All your cars are salvaged automatics!?
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2014, 08:04:51 AM »
Thanks for the link glenstache,

at the bottom of that page (DMV site) are other links for ways to check on reported damage of vehicles. Cool!

hermoninny

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Re: What the heck CA? All your cars are salvaged automatics!?
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2014, 09:45:10 AM »

Anecdote about MMM's comment on Europeans being smarter than Americans in the realm of cars (which they are)…  4/5ths of all cars we see here are hatchbacks and wagons AND they're all manual transmissions (wish I could ship one home). Anyway, once, when I rented a car, the rental guy, knowing I was American, snickered as he walked me out to the car and said, "it's not an automatic, can you still drive it?"

hell yeah!

He was genuinely surprised that I could.


I ran into the same thing when I was studying in Spain (going on 14 years now!)  My first car was a manual - a 1990 Toyota Tercel for $2,800 that I saved up for making $5.75/hr at Arby's, and my dad had to drive it off the lot for me.  It was a fabulous car to bring to college - about 80% of the student population was carless, therefore my classmates were always asking to borrow my car.  I didn't have to say no - just had to tell them it was a stick shift and I got the funniest looks of disgust!  Anyway, when I went to Spain in Fall 2000 to study, they always made fun of us for our cars and then were genuinely surprised (and I think impressed) when they found out I could drive a manual.  It was fun.  :)

Mega

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Re: What the heck CA? All your cars are salvaged automatics!?
« Reply #11 on: June 30, 2014, 12:26:16 PM »
As a car clown commuter, I could never deal with a manual transmission in rush 3 hour traffic (Greater Toronto Area).

One of my friends started to develop hip pains driving a manual during rush hour. Manual transmissions are just not worth it, IF you are driving in stop and start traffic.

So I would expect 99% of the cars sold in California to be automatic. It may be in your interest to get an automatic as well.

skunkfunk

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Re: What the heck CA? All your cars are salvaged automatics!?
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2014, 01:26:56 PM »
As a car clown commuter, I could never deal with a manual transmission in rush 3 hour traffic (Greater Toronto Area).

One of my friends started to develop hip pains driving a manual during rush hour. Manual transmissions are just not worth it, IF you are driving in stop and start traffic.

So I would expect 99% of the cars sold in California to be automatic. It may be in your interest to get an automatic as well.

The clutches in new cars these days are incredibly light. Shockingly light when compared to a performance car from the late 60's, for instance, or a pickup from the 80's. My wife's little sedan I barely even remember I'm using a stick in rush hour traffic it's so easy.

And more on topic - another big savings with manual transmissions are repair costs. Ever rebuilt an automatic? There's a reason they are so damned expensive. Even now, an auto makes a car cost 10% more, and twice as expensive to fix. They also don't hold up as well.