Author Topic: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?  (Read 5526 times)

notactiveanymore

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Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« on: June 10, 2016, 08:02:16 AM »
My husband drives a 2000 Chevy Malibu with close to 200k miles on it. His check engine light came on as he was headed into work today. His commute is 60 miles a day, entirely highway with no traffic. We bought the car for $2500 three years ago and put about $2000 more into it at this point.

We've been focusing on debt-payoff and will be done with that July 22, freeing up $2700/month (before any retirement contributions) for other savings. We also have $1800 saved right now towards a replacement vehicle (although some of that might be used for this current issue) and our plans were to amp that up and buy something for around 6-8k in the spring.

The other day I was poking around on some used car websites and discovered a local auto dealer who seems to specialize in salvage title vehicles. There were some amazing deals for lower-mileage vehicles and they seemed to be pretty transparent about the salvage title and work completed. If we went with something like that, we do have a local car repair guy we trust that we could have look it over before a purchase was made. We'd probably plan to drive the vehicle nearly into the ground again, so I don't really care a ton about re-sell value.

The other factor is that I'm positive he'll want to buy "American" although I'm not sure if he cares about the specifics of that model being made and assembled here, or just buying an "American" make. His most recent previous job was working on behalf of unions, so it was necessary to have the Malibu then.

So, would you buy a salvage title vehicle?

Dicey

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2016, 08:14:28 AM »
Nope. Wouldn't buy from a rental car fleet either, based on experience.

What I would do is put the word out among your network that you're in search of a reliable used car. Bonus points if you live near a senior community. There are always older, low mileage used vehicles for sale as people stop driving or pass away.

Generally, anyone who flips salvage vehicles is doing it to make quick money These are not loving, painstaking restorations. Often compromises have to be made to get the job done and still make a profit. Your family's safety is just not worth the risk.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2016, 08:27:26 AM »
I never have.  Not that I don't trust them necessarily, they could have been fixed professionally or it may have been something as simple as the vehicle was stolen and the ignition needed to be replaced.  The reason I don't buy them is because they are tough to sell in the fututre for the same reason you are contemplating whenther it's worth it or not and fro the same reason that everyone here is likely going to say not to do it.  Now, if you plan on driving it into the ground, and you know what the extent of the damage was and how it was fixed, I'd say that it's not the worst decision in the world.  Much much less worse than financing a brand new vehicle :)
« Last Edit: June 10, 2016, 08:34:55 AM by v8rx7guy »

Paul der Krake

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2016, 08:33:33 AM »
My first car was a salvage title, the daughter had rear-ended someone at 40 mph, so there had been major work done on it. The owners had somehow gotten their insurance company to repair it instead of salvaging it, years prior to me buying it. They were selling because the daughter was moving away to California.

I would buy a car in these circumstances again. It wasn't perfect but served me well.

Tetsuya Hondo

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2016, 08:47:47 AM »
Whenever I see a salvage car, I imagine it at the bottom of a flood plain, twelve feet underwater; because, there's a good chance that's were it spent a few days.

First, figure out what's wrong with your Malibu. It could be something little.

Then, if you really need to replace it, then I would only buy a salvage car if I knew the car's full history and you're savvy enough to know how to thoroughly look over the vehicle mechanically, electronically, the frame, etc. That is, if you're an auto mechanic, your mother owned it, and you can verify it's full history, then maybe. Otherwise, I would run. See: http://thegarage.jalopnik.com/why-you-dont-want-to-buy-a-rebuilt-salvage-vehicle-1653320003

There was another thread on this recently, but the search function isn't working for me. I recall that a few people had bought them and had luck, but the general consensus was to stay away.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2016, 08:51:41 AM by Tetsuya Hondo »

patchyfacialhair

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2016, 09:21:35 AM »
The only time i'd buy one would be in the case of hail damage. Sometimes you can find good deals on cars that have purely cosmetic hail damage, yet an insurance company will declare it a total loss.

That's hypothetical though; I have yet to purchase a salvage title vehicle.

notactiveanymore

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2016, 09:31:53 AM »
Whenever I see a salvage car, I imagine it at the bottom of a flood plain, twelve feet underwater; because, there's a good chance that's were it spent a few days.

First, figure out what's wrong with your Malibu. It could be something little.

Then, if you really need to replace it, then I would only buy a salvage car if I knew the car's full history and you're savvy enough to know how to thoroughly look over the vehicle mechanically, electronically, the frame, etc. That is, if you're an auto mechanic, your mother owned it, and you can verify it's full history, then maybe. Otherwise, I would run. See: http://thegarage.jalopnik.com/why-you-dont-want-to-buy-a-rebuilt-salvage-vehicle-1653320003

There was another thread on this recently, but the search function isn't working for me. I recall that a few people had bought them and had luck, but the general consensus was to stay away.

Yeah, the plan is definitely to fix the Malibu - fingers crossed. But the fact of the matter is it won't last very much longer regardless, especially with a daily 60 mile commute. As mentioned, we've already put over $2000 into it in the last 3 years meanwhile it's only worth about $700. The plan had been to just up our savings for it to get to 6-8k in the spring.

SwordGuy

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2016, 09:41:29 AM »
The only time i'd buy one would be in the case of hail damage. Sometimes you can find good deals on cars that have purely cosmetic hail damage, yet an insurance company will declare it a total loss.

That's hypothetical though; I have yet to purchase a salvage title vehicle.

I've bought 2 that way.   Of course, I owned them before the insurance company totaled them, but still.  It was a great deal!

If a big hail storm hits a car dealer you might get good prices.

RWD

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2016, 11:09:28 AM »
I have purchased a rebuilt title vehicle. Didn't find out until I was handing over the cash and signing the title (reminder to check the title before negotiating). I should have backed out then... The car was overall okay, but still had more problems than it would have otherwise.

jda1984

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2016, 02:08:09 PM »
I am currently driving a prior salvage vehicle.  Between my family and my wife's family, we've bought seven prior salvage vehicles over the last 15 years.  At least 4 of those are still being used as daily drivers now (two for 12 years in our ownership, one for 11, one for ~8-9).  We bought from someone we know who does this professionally.  He has been doing it for a long time and knows which types of damage are worth fixing and which ones to pass on.  The vehicle I currently drive was allegedly stolen (he seemed to think there wasn't enough damage to the ignition system to really have been stolen).  One a carport fell onto and had some dents/scratches that just required body work.

I would not buy a prior salvage vehicle from someone I didn't know or who didn't have a reputable business in the area.  I would consider buying a prior salvage vehicle from someone I knew who had driven it for quite a while.

I would not buy a first model year car again regardless of title status.  Had one that had a bunch of recalls in the first 3-4 years which seemed to have been worked through in later years.

BlueMR2

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2016, 10:57:20 AM »
I'd lean towards fixing your current one.

However, I'm not afraid of a salvage title.  All it means is that it was totaled and then was repaired.  Doesn't change any of the due diligence that you have to do.  Remember, a new car can sustain major damage and be repaired on a "clean" title whereas an older one can end up with a salvage title after even a minor fender bender!  Also, if a car is repaired *without* going through insurance (or is for example, in a flood, but is not reported) it'll retain the clean title even though the damage could have been severe.  In Ohio the salvage title at least gives you the knowledge that it passed the OSHP safety inspection to get a roadworthy title again...

darkadams00

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2016, 03:02:39 PM »
Years ago, I bought a salvage titled but immaculate Chevy Cavalier for $4000 from a local guy who rebuilds cars. Drove that car for 7 years with only an alternator replacement. Sold it for $250 when it finally died. Best $3750 I have ever spent on transportation.

Would I do it again? Probably not since I'm not in financial straits, but I wouldn't make a blanket statement either. Older cars get totaled out by the insurance company for purely financial reasons, not because there has been a reasonable estimation of a car's ability to transport from Point A to Point B.

MustardTiger

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2016, 05:46:04 PM »
My s2000 was a salvage because of a fender bender when it was 10 years old and needed a bumper replacement.  Got a good deal and it drives great but sure it might affect the resale value (which will be soon I am sure as we got pregnant right after I bought it.)

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #13 on: June 12, 2016, 09:00:18 PM »
So, would you buy a salvage title vehicle?

I would not touch a salvage title vehicle.

The person rebuilding the vehicle had every economic incentive to cut corners. Rush the job. Leave out bolts. Leave out stiffeners. Reuse damaged parts.

And the problem is, the cut corners are invisible to you. You won't know if corners were cut or not until the vehicle is in another wreck, and it fails to protect you and your family as well as it should.

The exception would be totaled for cosmetic damage, like hail.

notactiveanymore

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2016, 07:43:34 AM »
I'd lean towards fixing your current one.

However, I'm not afraid of a salvage title.  All it means is that it was totaled and then was repaired.  Doesn't change any of the due diligence that you have to do.  Remember, a new car can sustain major damage and be repaired on a "clean" title whereas an older one can end up with a salvage title after even a minor fender bender!  Also, if a car is repaired *without* going through insurance (or is for example, in a flood, but is not reported) it'll retain the clean title even though the damage could have been severe.  In Ohio the salvage title at least gives you the knowledge that it passed the OSHP safety inspection to get a roadworthy title again...

I always wonder how to make things clear in my op so that people understand. We have no intention of using this check engine issue as an excuse to get a new car. We always planned to run it into the ground and considering we've put over $2000 into a car that is worth $700, I think we might be at that place.

Quote
We also have $1800 saved right now towards a replacement vehicle (although some of that might be used for this current issue) and our plans were to amp that up and buy something for around 6-8k in the spring

We are going to need to ditch his current car sometime in the next year. I have no intention of doing any more routine maintenance (almost at 200k and would probably need all the belts replaced and new tires next year) in order to get it through inspection next summer.

I appreciate the thoughts on age of car and what can total something. My brother made decent money off an old truck that people kept rear-ending. It was always totalled, but he never had to repair it. Your point about a repair on a newer private sale vehicle is well taken.

notactiveanymore

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2016, 07:46:32 AM »
I am currently driving a prior salvage vehicle.  Between my family and my wife's family, we've bought seven prior salvage vehicles over the last 15 years.  At least 4 of those are still being used as daily drivers now (two for 12 years in our ownership, one for 11, one for ~8-9).  We bought from someone we know who does this professionally.  He has been doing it for a long time and knows which types of damage are worth fixing and which ones to pass on.  The vehicle I currently drive was allegedly stolen (he seemed to think there wasn't enough damage to the ignition system to really have been stolen).  One a carport fell onto and had some dents/scratches that just required body work.

I would not buy a prior salvage vehicle from someone I didn't know or who didn't have a reputable business in the area.  I would consider buying a prior salvage vehicle from someone I knew who had driven it for quite a while.

I would not buy a first model year car again regardless of title status.  Had one that had a bunch of recalls in the first 3-4 years which seemed to have been worked through in later years.

Thanks for the personal take! It's awesome you guys have had such a good run. I might dig in a bit with the local shop that seems to have the most salvage title vehicles and see if I know anyone with experience there as well as checking reviews. We're very deliberative people, so with no plans to get this vehicle until next spring, we've got plenty of time to vet!

notactiveanymore

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2016, 08:04:32 AM »
So, would you buy a salvage title vehicle?

I would not touch a salvage title vehicle.

The person rebuilding the vehicle had every economic incentive to cut corners. Rush the job. Leave out bolts. Leave out stiffeners. Reuse damaged parts.

And the problem is, the cut corners are invisible to you. You won't know if corners were cut or not until the vehicle is in another wreck, and it fails to protect you and your family as well as it should.

The exception would be totaled for cosmetic damage, like hail.

Isn't that the case with buying any used vehicle? Especially in private sale?

It's my understanding that you can ask for the full report of damage and repairs and I would definitely have our trusted mechanic look at a vehicle before we purchased it. I suppose my thinking is that it's a bit of a grab bag regardless. Admittedly, I've done well with the grab bag of used vehicles in the past. But I was also in 3 totalling accidents in my first 6 years driving, so maybe I just didn't have them long enough to discover problems!


notactiveanymore

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2016, 08:16:20 AM »
General Update:

The check engine light seemed to be a red herring. Loose gas cap for one of the codes, then some ABS things that are probably just wiring issues. Hooray! Every other time this car has thrown a code it's been over $500, so we're stoked.

I'd been relying on my husband's amount of $700-750 as the value, but it seemed low to me. I got the actual mileage (168k, lower than I'd realized) and it turns out the car is worth about $1200 via private sale. He doesn't remember where the $700 number came from, but we're again stoked.

So we're in much better shape than we'd thought or expected. I'll keep doing research on the salvage title options here in town, but we might just decide to ride it out longer and save a bit more so we can get a replacement vehicle with lower mileage. My own car is at 98k, so it would be nice to keep the replacement rotation going and get him something in the 60k range.

Thanks for all the thoughts!

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2016, 08:26:03 AM »

I am late to comment... but the short answer is no.  There might be situations where I was buying from a trusted friend/family member and I knew the extent of the damage to the vehicle.  But in particular a used car lot that specializes in salvage title: I would not slow down below the speed limit driving by that place.  There's a chance they're on the level, but used car dealers that target the lower end have a pretty long history of being scam artists.  I would avoid them.

side LOL:  We used to have a used car lot in town called "Caveat Emptor Used Cars".  Their reputation matched the brand name exactly.

Slow&Steady

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2016, 08:39:49 AM »
I currently drive a car that we purchased with a salvaged title and my commute is 45 miles each way.

We bought the car in late 2015 and have not had any issues with it. It is an 08 Prius, only had 60k miles on it and we negotiated a great price because of the title.  Our other car is an 06 Prius that I bought brand new and have put almost 300k miles on so we are very aware of how a Prius that style should run and was confident after test driving and doing some poking around.  We have already taken it on a couple road trips and it is now also the car that gets driven on the weekends so we are pushing 90k miles already.  We were very nervous about buying a car with a salvaged title but almost 30k miles later and I am happy with our decision. 

ScottEric

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #20 on: June 13, 2016, 11:00:11 AM »
I bought a recovered theft salvage title and rebuilt it myself. It was just missing seats and doorcards.  Pretty easy fix really.  I'd definitely do it again, and I'd happily drive something that dealer rebuilt.  There are definitely people who do a nice job putting cars back together with salvage titles. 

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #21 on: June 13, 2016, 11:51:06 PM »
So, would you buy a salvage title vehicle?

I would not touch a salvage title vehicle.

The person rebuilding the vehicle had every economic incentive to cut corners. Rush the job. Leave out bolts. Leave out stiffeners. Reuse damaged parts.

And the problem is, the cut corners are invisible to you. You won't know if corners were cut or not until the vehicle is in another wreck, and it fails to protect you and your family as well as it should.

The exception would be totaled for cosmetic damage, like hail.

Isn't that the case with buying any used vehicle? Especially in private sale?


No, not at all. Honestly, I'm having a hard time understanding your confusion.

When you buy a used vehicle with a clean title, that by definition means that the vehicle has never been declared totaled. With a branded salvage title, the opposite is true. The vehicle has been declared totaled.

notactiveanymore

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #22 on: June 14, 2016, 09:03:23 AM »
So, would you buy a salvage title vehicle?

I would not touch a salvage title vehicle.

The person rebuilding the vehicle had every economic incentive to cut corners. Rush the job. Leave out bolts. Leave out stiffeners. Reuse damaged parts.

And the problem is, the cut corners are invisible to you. You won't know if corners were cut or not until the vehicle is in another wreck, and it fails to protect you and your family as well as it should.

The exception would be totaled for cosmetic damage, like hail.

Isn't that the case with buying any used vehicle? Especially in private sale?


No, not at all. Honestly, I'm having a hard time understanding your confusion.

When you buy a used vehicle with a clean title, that by definition means that the vehicle has never been declared totaled. With a branded salvage title, the opposite is true. The vehicle has been declared totaled.

I'm not confused, I just disagree with you!

I'm just saying the work done for a repair/maintenance on a used vehicle can be done shoddily and cause the same kinds of issues. Sure it hasn't been declared totaled, but maybe that's because they didn't make a claim to insurance or they went to their crap mechanic uncle for a replacement exhaust system and good ol' boy inspection but it turns out the work was crap. My point is simply that when you're buying used, which is all I've ever done, you might also get a car where someone has cut corners on repairs/maintenance.

The argument could be made you've got a higher chance of facing that with a salvage title vehicle, but it's not crazy to mention that any used vehicle could have a problem that's been covered up or bandaged over or not repaired properly.

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #23 on: June 14, 2016, 09:42:47 AM »
Ah, my bad. I thought you were asking an honest question, not an inauthentic one. Good luck with your wreck.

notactiveanymore

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #24 on: June 14, 2016, 10:43:55 AM »
Ah, my bad. I thought you were asking an honest question, not an inauthentic one. Good luck with your wreck.

And here I thought you were being patronizing and it turns out I was completely correct.

TheInsuranceMan

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Re: Would You Buy a Salvage Title Vehicle?
« Reply #25 on: June 14, 2016, 10:50:57 AM »
I bought my 2008 Ford F150 as a salvage title.  It was a flood truck that got a new wiring harness, motor, and interior.  I knew the guy that did it, and have had 0 problems with it, and that's with me putting on 120k miles myself.  Your mileage my vary, you won't get crap for trading it in, so plan to drive it until it dies.  Mine is paid off, and it isn't going anywhere any time soon, I can tell you that!