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Buying salvage cars

i was looking around and i saw the car that suits me but the thing its repaired and looks normal but… the title is salvage. I had it inspected and everything is good so what might be the risks of buying it? its a 2007 nissan altima. again its repaired already this is the website i saw it in http://www…ake=Nissan take a look and reply


You don’t know what happened to the car to make the owner send it to the junkyard.

If you have to ask (which means you are not an accomplished mechanic, few are) you should not consider it. Too risky, in my opinion.

Very risky indeed; many of these cars, although not dangerous, don’t steer straight or develop other problems that are impossible to correct later. I would stay away from anything salvaged.

could this car have been through a flood?

A very good question, in view of the number of recent floods that plagued the US lately.

For it to be an 07 with a salvage title it must have been wacked real bad.

Unless it was a flood car as others have suggested.

Did ya look at the pics of it?

I’ve had very good luck with salvage title cars. One of their attractions is that so many people are skeptical about them – which causes their price to be attractive compared to non-salvage cars in similar condition. There are two things to look into.

  1. The car almost certainly has required major work to get it to market. Who did the work? Do they know what they are doing? What’s their reputation?

  2. Salvage cars typically have been totalled out by an insurance company, sold at auction then rebuilt. Why were they totalled out? I personally disagree with those on this board who automatically reject cars that were flooded. I own two of them and they are fine after professional rebuild. But even I would be leary of a car whose history included being rejected by the original owner under a state lemon law.

If you can’t get straight, satisfactory answers to why the vehicle has a salvage title, you might want to pass on it.

I agree with you with older cars, but with something as new as an '07 it takes SO much damage to total them. Almost by definition, this means that someone cut huge corners to get it back on the road. I’d pass.

I’ve also had a couple nice, but older, cars with salvage titles that worked out fine.

According to the website, that car has been damaged with an airbag deployed. The cost to repair it was apparently more than the car was worth, which is why it was salvaged.

So now some shop, whose sole motivation is to make a profit, buys the wrecked car and fixes it up and gives it a new paint job to sell it.

You have to ask yourself: If you were in their shoes, would you “go the extra mile” to make sure it was fixed properly? You will never know the answer for certain, but since they’re selling a bunch of previously damaged cars, you can sure make an educated guess.

The price they’re asking on the website is about $3000 below what Kelly Blue Book says it’s worth. Buying used cars always carries some element of “gamble” with it. The history of this car makes the gamble much riskier. Are you willing to make the gamble just to save $3000?

I personally would stay away from it. But if you choose to buy it, make sure you have it thoroughly checked out by a reputable mechanic (at your cost) before you sign anything or give any deposit. You may also want your mechanic to have some body experience as well.

There are two words in the brief description of that car that tell the entire story, as far as I am concerned. Those words are, “AS IS”.

In other words, no warranty of any kind is being included with the sale of this 2 year old car with 17k on the odometer. If that doesn’t give Alex a clue as to just how seriously damaged this car was, then nothing will.

Caveat Emptor!

The car looks nice (several on the web site, talking about the blue Altima with 17K miles) the info said Title: Texas Regular Status. It did say also one airbag deployed but it didn’t say it was salvage title.

Anyway, who did the inspection for you? What did they recommend? From long distance it is hard to give you much of an answer. My feeling is if you really like the car, take it for a nice long test drive, curvey roads, bumpy roads, and some interstate highway, a good test. $3,000 off KBB doesn’t seem like all that great a deal. Make a low ball offer IF you really like the car.

Over time the repainted areas of the car will not hold up as well as the original factory paint. If it is a good quality paint job it may look good for 5 years if you care for it. One airbag deployed indicates an accident likely a frontal impact. Take a real close look at the front, grill, headlights, fenders, hood, etc. You should find stickers with the vin # on major body panels of a car, so where the stickers are missing that part was likely replaced. It is possible to take out a grill some fenders, lights and radiators and rack up a large enough repair bill for insurance to total a car. If the impact was enough to get into the “crush” zones built into the car then the frame is damaged and I won’t want to get a car that crunched. If a mechanic inspected the car and didn’t notice body damage, perhaps you should have a good auto body man inspect the car too.

If an insurance company totaled it, they took pictures before they sold it. Those pictures are someplace…I knew a rebuilder who ALWAYS provided “before” pictures to the buyer and also a detailed repair parts list. He had few problems with the cars he sold (for about half blue-book)…

Alexv6 wrote:

Did ya look at the pics of it?

I did look at the pics. I’ve also worked with some great auto body shop techs who were very skilled at making ANY car look awesome (just for buyers like you). When I look at the pics, my first reaction is: What sins are they hiding?

As others have noted, be careful.

After looking at the pics, I wonder why only one airbag deployed.

Personally, if I was going to buy a salvaged car, it would have to be a base model with no extras. You never know what will stop working and when it will happen, so I would want as few accessories and as simple a vehicle as possible.

Good point. For example, I was thinking of getting an old ('65-'66) Mustang a few years ago. I saw a very nice-looking one in a used car lot. Shiny black paint, clean interior. Then I looked underneath - I could see the carpet through the rusted-out holes in the floor pan! That was probably a new paint job covering up pounds of Bondo. Looks mean little.

A 2007 nissan altima is a pretty generic car – so many available why buy a salvage title? When you decide to sell it, you will not get much for it.

I’d go with a clean titled, low mileage, one-owner car. When you sell it five years later the total cost of ownership will not be much less with the salvage car as your biggest cost will be depreciation (or lack of resale value).


I bought a salvage car once and it turned out great. It was a 1996 Acura RL that I got in 2000 for $15k. The book value for the car was $25k at the time and it was $45k new. It had 46k miles on it. The car had been driven into a puddle and water went in the air intake ruining the engine. The dealer bought it from the insurance company and replaced the engine. I drive the car for 8 years and it got to 251k before it died.
Given that the price was 40% below book value, it was worth the risk. It may be tough to get a loan on a salvage car and some states require a special inspection. It is tough to sell one, so you should be prepared to drive it for a long time…