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Buying a writeoff

The car isn’t actually writeoff it’s a 2010 lancer that was put in a ditch lots of bodywork to be done but not quite worried about that it has a bent lower passenger control arm. The control arm is no problem to fix I’m just wondering what else’s I should be looking for

This is one of those “if you have to ask, then maybe this isn’t for you” kind of things. No way for us to tell, good chance there’s more damage than you can see from a short inspection.


Do you realize how hard it is going to be to get parts for this vehicle. Also it should have a salvage title which could be a problem getting insurance . If you just want to see if you can repair it fine. But if you want to actually use it for real transportation I think you will have way to much money and frustration to enjoy it.

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Does it have a salvage title? If it does, it is, indeed a “writeoff.” That said, the car is a risk, for sure. Make sure it CAN be re-titled in your state AND insured. A web search and a few phone calls will help you understand if you are buying a door-stop or a car.

A bent control arm could mean a bent uni-body. Likely, no way for you to determine that before you buy unless it is very obvious. That can be straightened, at a cost, by a shop with a frame machine. You might be able to work a deal by unbolting a few things, pulling the car straight and then, and only then, cut the rear quarters off and weld in new ones. Big job, not just a swap parts, bondo and go type job even IF the car is straight.

I’d look for a bent frame to start, and if it’s bent, I’d walk away.

I’m willing to bet if it needs a lot of body work, the frame is bent.

Some Lancers (like the Evolution) are often driven hard and abused, which might be how this one ended up in a ditch in the first place, so that’s also a concern in addition to the crash damage.

What would the symptoms of the bent unibody be?

Yea I figured but this one looks completely stock which gives some reassurance and not too worried giving the low kms

The front quarter panel and bumper sustained most damage

Just lined up a parts car for it, and the guy says it’s not written off (so no salvage title) not sure how that worked out I’m assuming he just never called his insurance about it?

Yea just looking for people with experience who have dealt with cars in accidents if there’s anything specific I should be looking for given the damage.

Stuff is bent is the symptom.

How you tell is support the car level on jackstands at 4 points on the pinch weld jacking points on the rocker panels. Measure the heights to the ground, are they the same? No? Bent!

Look for reference points side to side and front to rear. Pick one control arm chassis mounting point in the front and one in the rear. Drop a plumb bob to the ground and mark it both front and rear on the floor. Repeat the other side. Measure front to rear, left and right. Are they the same? No? Bent! Measure diagonally. Are they the same? No? Bent!

I told you it wasn’t easy to find just looking at the car.

That doesn’t really tell us much. It’s still just as likely to have a bent frame.

You have not said whether you are going to do all the labor. If you are not, and plan to pay for it, it would have to be almost free for you to take a chance like this. If you can arrange for a body shop to see it, that would help.

If you have a shop with room to work, and a flat solid floor, and a LOT of time, and a serious supply of tools and skills, then it’s your call.

I looked at buying a salvage title car that had been totaled due to hail damage. It looked like someone had set it out at the end of a golf driving range but besides that it was basically a new car. I had the option to buy it for like pennies on the dollar but it was out of state and with a salvage title, it was more than I wanted to take on. I would have spent as much getting it on the road here than buying a good used car.

This car you are looking at may or may not be a nightmare. Also look for leaks underneath in case something was really tweaked by the crash. I hope you got it cheap.