How much risk, and how to minimize risk in buying a rebuild?

I am looking for at a rebuilt Scion Xb. It is about 5,000 cheaper than KBB value, and I talked to the guy selling it. He tells me he paid his way through college by buying cars with body damage at auction, and fixing them up and selling them. I asked if it would be OK for me to take it to the dealership for a thorough going-over if I decide I like the car. I was looking for a low-mileage car with warranty left, and this makes me nervous, frankly. Can I buy a warranty on a rebuilt car? The price leaves us some money to play with, but I don’t want to mess around with something that is going to likely mean heartache in the future.

This is impossible to answer; don’t know how much damage the car had; don’t know the quality of the repair work.

Does the vehicle have a “Salvage” title? If so, it’s worth half Kelly Book. There are ALWAYS “before” pictures taken by the rebuilder or the insurance company who totaled the car. Ask to see them. College Boys working in their backyards seldom have the skills or tools to properly rebuild a serious wreck…When an insurance company totals a vehicle, it should go to the shredder not the body shop…

Thank you. That saves me a lot of time. I am not going to consider these cars. I was having some small amount of squeamishness over it, but I didn’t know much about them.

And now that I know that his asking price is actually a little over half the KBB value, it makes it even a lot less appealing.

Welllll, there are rebult vehicles and there are rebuilt vehicles. Unless you can determine how much damage was done to this “car” you may want to stay away from it. Keep in mind that it would take a lot of damage to TOTAL a nearly new vehicle. It only takes minor damage for an insurance company to total a seven year or older one. I have seen '99s that only needed a fender or door skin totalled because the insurance company is bidding on the proper fix to include ALL NEW parts and repainting. The trick is to find a red fender to put on a red car, etc. Salvage parts are cheaper than new, and do the same job just as well. If “college boy” were dealing with that sort of vehicle, I’d say OK. Since he’s dealing with nearly new stuff in this case, I’d be quite leery of it. If you do decide to consider it, BY ALL MEANS take it to a body shop that’s not trying to sell similar cars and ask them to look it over thoroughly. If they are selling cars, they will undoubtedly try to put this one down to sell you one of theirs. Any pro should be able to tell you what was replaced. I’m not saying to reject it just because it was wrecked, but to be cautious. Expect to pay for this service.

As for the value being 50% of retail, I’ve seen LOTS of rebuilt salvage cars bring full retail. It depends on the car and the rebuilder. A more realistic figure would be 80 or 90% of the NADA book price. Even the insurancwe companies will tell you that. I deal with them on a regular basis. In fact, I bought a lightly damaged Taurus SHO yesterday, and I have a green door already picked out for it.