Halp! I’m buying a car for the first time, looking at hatchbacks. I’m between the Honda Fit and the Nissan Versa Note, cuz they have awesome cargo space and mpg, and are decently affordable. I found some 2017 Honda Fits in my price range with rebuilt titles, that have been in minor accidents and repaired. In the $9000-$11000 range with option to buy an extended warranty. The particular dealership I found specializes in fixing up cars classified as “total loss” and has AMAZING reviews on multiple websites. But is this a horrible idea??? I also have a 2016 base model Nissan Versa Note on hold at a dealership, it’s $9800 and certified pre-owned with a 7 year warranty. I feel like that’s the practical option but manual windows and locks seem annoying. Should I take the risk/extra upfront cost on a rebuilt Honda because it’s such a great car company, and has more desirable features? Or should I go with the cheaper Versa that already has a warranty? Would love your thoughts. Thank you!! ~Kate
Inspect for quality of work and alignment problems. Pay a significant discount 25-50%. Make sure insurance can be gotten. And don’t plan on selling it again. It’s a risk but can save some money. Luckily my son’s got hit and was totaled so we didn’t have to try and sell it. His did ok but it always had one rear wheel that was out of alignment but didn’t affect much except tire wear. You really want someone to take a good look at it though on a lift.
Thanks so much for the reply! I’ll definitely need to get a secondary mechanic to take a look at it if I go in this direction, thanks for the tip. It feels more risky than the Versa option for sure, but it also could be completely fine with few problems…
Don’t kid yourself. A car involved in a minor accident is never a total loss or needing a rebuilt title. These were major wrecks requiring extensive rebuilding. It may not look like it from the outside. Most major rebuilt vehicles I’ve looked at had issues. Incomplete reassembly, mismatched parts, stuff missing etc. Every one had the undercarriage or frame newly undercoated. Looks great, hides things…
Check with your insurance. They may not fully cover a rebuilt title car. Guess why?
Doesn’t sound like a good deal to me.
In my area there are 13 2017 Honda Fits with no reported accidents, one owner, low mileage cars in your price range
Don’t do it. It’s that simple. Too many potential problems.
Do yourself a huge favor. Forget rebuilt totaled cars. In my opinion these are not for first time buyers if they are for any buyers.
It’s a lot of money to spend. Do some homework. The time study a car is before the purchase. Knowledge is power.
I’d pay attention to any factory(from the manufacturer) warranty (as opposed to dealer provided warranty) remaining on the vehicles you’re considering.
Learn what a manufacturer’s CPO (Certified Pre-owned) vehicle/warranty is, as opposed to a dealer CPO car.
I’d sooner consider a former rental car from a company like Enterprise before I’d look at rebuilt salvage cars. I have bought several former rental cars, all good ones.
Do a bunch of comparison shopping prior to purchase, paying attention to things like vehicle features/options, factory warranty, wear and tear, etcetera.
Can flooded cars be cleaned up and retitled? A lot of gremlins would be hiding in a car that has had water over the door thresholds.
Listen to @TwinTurbo - it’s incorrect to claim that ‘minor accidents’ were involved. If that’s what they’re telling you, they are lying to you. Do you want to do business with a company like that?
Yes, us up in the northern states have to watch out for flood damaged cars that came from the south with washed titles.
After Katrina, there were a lot of them.
Multiple sites with Amazing reviews ? That in itself would activate my ’ Bogus ’ alarm.
Seriously a first time buyer or even someone with limited mechanical skills has no business with a salvage title vehicle .
I also wonder why a dealer would hold a used vehicle unless the hold fee was not going to be refunded if you don’t buy it.
I had a colleague who only bought cars with rebuilt titles. One car that she owned had real rust and paint issues and the car was too new for these problems
Another friend had an old Taurus wagon that got bumped in a driveway. There were dents in the doors, but no broken glass and the doors opened and closed perfectly. Yet, the insurance company called the car a total loss. My friend bought the car back from the insurance company and had the dents in the doors repaired by a body man who did work on the side. The insurance company knew what they were doing in totaling the car. It had rust around the fender wells. Her mechanic wouldn’t put it on the lift because of the rust. She said she was just going to use the car around town. I finally convinced her that driving it around town was still dangerous. Her mechanic finally gave her $100 for the car because the engine was good and he had a customer whose Taurus needed an engine.
In my opinion, if an insurance company says a car is totaled, it knows what it is talking about. I would recommend staying away from any vehicle that has been totaled.
I have a background in auto body repair and mechanics. I used to buy repaired and unrepaired cars. I would only consider a clean title. Salvaged and rebuilt titles reduce the value by up to 50%. Will a real lender lend money on one? No. Will an insurance carrier write comp and collision. No.
If most used car buyers bother with a pre purchase inspection; they consult a mechanic. I would be just as worried about previous body repairs. A mechanic is not going to check those.
General rules: As a first time car buyer; do not buy any car with an accident history. Don’t pay any attention to non factory warranties. On line reviews will not help to fix problems. Have the car inspected prior to purchase especially for previous accidents. If they say buy and then inspect; walk. Get you financing in order before you go to a dealer. Do not ever do buy here pay here, Review the out the door price, ie: total amount with all fees and taxes. Take your time. This is a multi-year contract.
I forgot about the whole flood car issue. Good point. A flood car should always be avoided. I think the consensus is to avoid the rebuilds at this point.
Thanks so much for all your feedback everyone, I REALLY appreciate it! Per some folks’ advice I’m now back to looking at Hertz and Avis and they have a few great options for cheaper than this rebuilt car… Crazy.
Really good points, thanks so much!!
“Take your time, this is a multi-year contract…” Thank you for that, I needed to hear that!
There is only ONE circumstance in which I would consider buying a car with a salvage/rebuilt/reconstructed title: if the car is old enough to be worth $3,000 or less, and the accident/vandalism/theft recovery happened at least 5 years ago. I wouldn’t even dream of buying a late-model (less than 10 years old) car with a branded title at any price.
If someone is telling you that minor damage resulted in a 20-year old car being salvaged, I’d believe that. But a 2-year old car? No way. This thing was severely damaged, and put back together again. It may look nice, but it will NEVER drive the same as a different car that was never in an accident. Anyone telling you otherwise is full of it.
Another thing to think about is that if you’re buying an old car for $3,000 or less, you don’t expect a warranty, so the fact that the title is branded doesn’t matter. If you’re buying a late-model car, for more than $10,000 you do expect a warranty, and the branded title means that the manufacturer’s warranty–as well as any “goodwill repair campaign” coverage will be denied. Sure, you can buy an aftermarket “warranty”, but those aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on!
Yes you’re right. I looked up the VIN #s on google images, and feel pretty disconcerted now. I don’t think I want a vehicle at all that ever was in that bad of shape. So many little or big things could go wrong down the road.
We had a car that got rolled up on a boulder by a fedex truck, it needed a trans rebuild due to leak, we had it fixed for leaking 2 times under warranty and the shop said we will keep doing it for a year but thing just aren’t lining up right. We traded it in.