Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Rebuilt Flood Cars (Subaru)


Sorry but it seems like you’re not wanting to hear us…

Also, he states he will “replace anything that got wet”.

He is lying, of course. Or does he replace the entire drive train and wiring harness?

Just putting in dry seats and carpets is nothing.

I believe he replaces those drive train components with crash cars from a junkyard. Kind of Frankenstein style I believe

That seller claims to be replacing engines and transmissions along with everything else and I’m not buying that line.

Let’s assume he’s replacing engine and transmission and differentials (which I, also, doubt, and which will be used of who knows what condition) - what about the wiring and electrical components? That’s been my problem from post 1. Water (fresh or ESPECIALLY SALT) that gets into any of the dozens (hundreds?) of connections will begin to cause corrosion. Damage won’t show up for weeks/months, at which point you’re on your own to track down problems that will be near impossible to find and fix.

Like I said, RUN AWAY.

Thought I posted something like this but it didn’t take…

In our first correspondence, he replied with this email, when I asked what made them salvage for him to rebuild

He is a good salesman and makes some compelling and maybe valid points. The concern is that there is a lack of supporting evidence.

I keep tossing back and forth- which will have the first, and more expensive problems- a 9 year old car with 105K miles, or a 5 year old car with 45K miles that got flooded but supposedly everything wet replaced with dry crash-car parts?

If the replacement part is true, it makes them much more comparable. If not, then of course I’d rather spend my money elsewhere, too.


We have rebuilt several hundred Subarus. (Nothing else). Right now, we are rebuilding primarily flood cars because of Hurricane Sandy. In short, we gut a flood car to above the water line, thoroughly wash the painted shell, then use a collision Subaru (what we call the organ donor) to repopulate the flood shell. If it got wet, it comes out. It takes three techs about a week to convert a car. On this particular '07, I have personally driven it highway and around town for over 100 miles. Unless I told you, or you saw the title, even you, an experienced car guy, would not know the car was other than original.

It’s funny, people are scared to death of flood cars, but if you think about it, it is the best rebuild. (Our usual rebuild is often collision, and our techs are the ones who concluded the flood rebuild was a better reconstruct.) This is true because, when done, the car has no structural damage, no wet components, and is therefore truly a recycled Subaru. Once the car is built, we do the same 152 point certified checklist that Subaru uses in its certified used car program. Indeed, our cars are better than used because we have literally handled every single component in the car and know it is fresh, right and tight.

Our cars are the quality that they appear to be. Although we only recently started marketing on eBay, we have sold many quality Subaru rebuilds locally and our customers are satisfied.

Let me know if you have any further questions.



I’m not tossing off any opinions or advice, trust me. I’m just as nervous of the idea as you. But when my options are a twice-as-old car with 2.5x the miles, the options seem to level out a bit more.

Combined with the fact that I bought for my first car, a low miles but 12 year old car (Audi), and still had problems. Seals and gaskets are going bad, which then directly affects electronics when water starts creeping in places it shouldn’t. I watched water drip from the dome light because I’d parked it at a sharp angle.

It feels like I have to choose which turd I want to buy and then polish as much as I can.

“Combined with the fact that I bought for my first car, a low miles but 12 year old car (Audi), and still had problems.”

Problems are guaranteed on a 12 year old Audi, one of the more problematic cars out there. Don’t let that experience color your judgment.

Salvage title? What is typical value/price now compared to no salvage car? 1/2? 3/4? If u bought it today, could u sell it next week for what u paid?

“Salvage title? What is typical value/price now compared to no salvage car? 1/2? 3/4? If u bought it today, could u sell it next week for what u paid?”

No. Seems like you pretty much buy the car and run it until it won’t go anymore. Sale value is reduced by 20%-40% from what I can tell, and seems that resale value is simply hard to sell for that again, so lower.

“Problems are guaranteed on a 12 year old Audi, one of the more problematic cars out there. Don’t let that experience color your judgment.”

I won’t go into it, but it’s been a good car. Quirky, but has never failed me that wan’t my fault (except once, and I replaced the starter motor that same weekend). Dry rot on seals and rubber affects all vehicles of all makes and types.

20-40% off is not enough, salvage title cars typically sell for about 50% off. So these are no bargains.

Look, if you want to buy, buy. You’ve read what we have to say, it seems like you really want it. But you can buy a good reliable car for $10k instead.

Take a look at Paul Jr’s design 911 tribute bike that was under water from hurricane Sandy. It was a total rebuild to get the bike ready. There are pictures on their website and show the bike. I saw the show where went to NYC to pick the bike up and rebuild it. After seeing that show I’d NEVER EVER buy a vehicle that was flooded.

And I saw the bike live and in person when in NYC a couple of months ago after Paul and his crew rebuilt the bike. It was beautiful.

Well we’ll see. I’ve already told him I’m still scouting and looking for what seems best for me. Having a second car would mitigate the risk and it might be worth it. But for a daily driver, the risk might just be too high to justify. Could he a hell of a car, could blow a head off a week later.

Does anyone have an Angies List account who could look him up? Perhaps there would be some long term reviews there?

You are getting too emotional and see this as a way to get more car than you can otherwise get. I don’t think you will be in a position to deal with all of the issues that one of these cars could have if a simple fuel guage is a problem. There are tons of 30,000 mile Malibus or Impalas out there that would serve you better if you don’t want to spend any more money than 10K.

Buy it and let us know how it works out in 8 months.

Have a friend who has a toyota pickup(tacoma) that got flooded in his yard after a flash flood(you can see where the water level was up in the headlight housings) the insurance company totaled it and bought it back from them for peanuts as far as I know he is still running it several years later.
But on the other hand my wife bought a good looking Honda Passport off of a car dealer and paid top dollar( I may add) and that suv had a horrible mildew odor after the overpowering air freshner scent wore off and had gremlins one after the other,the chassis bolts were so rusty you couldnt hardly break them loose,I finally got my wife to unload that Joner or trade it in rather(we traded it in on a high mileage well maintained Honda Accord(that never gave a minutes trouble) so I’m firmly convinced that Passport was a flood vehicle.
I love the idea of this guy recycling these cars and being straight forward honest about it,but the one thing that will get you are the electricall connections,sooner or later if they have had any exposure to water(especially salt water) but buying one of these for a second car ,Wouldnt worry me to much-Kevin

Kevin- that’s the kind of recount I was hoping to get, thank you. “…but buying one of these for a second car ,Wouldnt worry me to much” - that’s kind of where I ended up. If I had the time and a garage to leave it in as long as it took I’d be all for it. Since I’m looking for a daily driver to replace my current, leaving me with only one again, it may not be smart.

My dad is going through some… issues in life… and said he may title his car in my name for a dollar. That would give me a reliable car which I could keep as a second, and then perhaps I would do the Subaru deal… I hadn’t thought of that until just now.

Nothing the guy is telling you works. A car floods from the bottom up. Many expensive components of a Subaru are down low. They have complicated all-wheel-drive systems with various components that can be damaged. He would have to replace those on every car he works on. Where are all these wrecked donor cars coming from? That’s not how it works anymore. Now any fairly new wrecked car is dismantled immediately and the good parts are cleaned up, inspected, and sold. At respectable prices. This guy doesn’t have some magic supply of high quality wrecked Subarus. They don’t exist except as parts in a warehouse. The old days of giant lots full of cars you picked parts off of are over in most places, done in by zoning, environmental and safety laws, and the value of used parts. Letting them rust away in a field is stupid.

So, is he really replacing all those expensive drivetrain components? Lots of other people also need to replace those parts because they are easy to damage. What does he do about transmissions? Many recent Subarus have CVTs. What happens to them when they’re flooded? I doubt anyone can even say, but it’s not going to be cheap to replace one. Good parts, even used, are not cheap. You can’t be economically build yourself a car from used parts, and that’s practically what this guy claims to be doing. If a car has flooded to the dashboard almost all the valuable parts have been soaked.

Well my opinion remains unchanged. As a business model I’m not convinced that with the money invested in time and parts to strip a car down that far, replace the components, interior, and so on with quality new or undamaged parts, can yield any profit. So the questions remain how a profit can be made without using substandard parts, and why a person would purchase one for nearly the same price as an undamaged one. Plus from a resale standpoint, if a person were to trade or re-sell one, they could only expect to receive 50-75% of what one with a good title would bring.

Cars and trucks can generally take a lot of abuse, including exposure to moisture and rain and the off roading we did. But, they aren’t boats. We could not tell when we went over the line, and they still survived fine with good maintenace. But, flood vehicles usually sit for sustained periods in water. I can’t say that a recovered vehicle would not make decent transportation. But, it had better be dirt cheap. I would think to properly recover a vehicle, would require more dismantling and inspection then it’s worth to make it worth selling cheaply. That’s why I would not buy one. Proper recovery would cost you as much as it would if it never happened… If you recover your own car and you are a competent mechanic, working on your own time with nothing to loose, sure. Otherwise, I would bail on any deal on such a vehicle if you aren’t. It’s worthless down the line for resale, and you save nothing.