"Recycling facility record" WTF?

So I found a very clean “unicorn” of a car. 30K 1996 lexus driven by an older lady. On the phone they sound legit, everything sounds good (I even typed number into facebook and story of wanting to pass car down from grandma to mother but not doing so due moms health issues (needs SUV) checks out. Getting ready to look at it tomorrow. Ran an autochecker and everything looks good (1 owner, no accidents, etc) but it has:


…Anyone know what that means (listed as a red flag)? Title still says clean, no accidents reported, 1 owner, all registration/renewal in the same city, in 02/12/1997 it passed emissions, 02/17/1999 it passed emissions, 02/05/2001—seen at recycling facility, 02/08/2001 passed emissions (3 days later). That was the last emissions check on file.

So im confused by the red flag “spotted at recycling facility” but also confused by the last emissions check being in 2001 (it had 9K at the time).

Any ideas?

It means (IF accurate) that it was sold to a scrap yard/junkyard. To be parted out/crushed and melted. I don’t see how it can be both one owner AND “seen at(?)” a recycling facility…the junkman would have to take title, and a refurb’d would likely have a salvage title.

I’m not knocking CarFax entirely, but there’s a definite “signal/noise ratio” problem with the concept.

Its in the list with emission, registration, title stuff; but has no indication of the title switching over or anything. It goes from being in the southwest (same city all its life since bought new) to “DURHAM, NC Automotive Recycler LAST SEEN AT RECYCLING FACILITY” then 3 days later its back in the same city getting an emissions inspection; from there thats the last emissions inspection (2001). Everything after that is just registration/renewals (all in the same city).

Biggest flag I see is using 2 highly unreliable refferences to shop for used cars. I mean " Facebook " really? And those “auto checker” sites? Did you find this car on Craig’s list? Another red flag.

30k on a car that old is a huge red flag to me. I bet little maintenance has been done for years.

Something is fishy. Possibly a flooded car that was totalled/purchased by the insurance company, sold for parts/scrap, and now being resold by unscrupulous persons. Beware and check for signs the car has been in deep water (carpet stains, smell, etc).

Could it be that the owner merely took it to a recycler to see what they would pay for it?

Have it inspected by an independent mechanic before you buy.

Maybe some other car was “last seen at recycling facility” and someone transposed a number on the VIN??? You stated that the car otherwise has been “in the southwest (same city all its life since bought new)” What I wonder about is what about the emissions for 2/03, 2/05, 2/07 and so on. Did your state eliminate its emissions program? Does that even happen? So its been 14 years since car passed emissions? Seems fishy.

My car can be seen at a few different recycling facilities on any number of occasions. I get parts there all the time. But usually don’t go to the other side of the country to get them.

Don’t you have to have the VIN number to do Autocheck and Carfax sites? Why would someone give that out over the phone. Put number in Face Book ? This whole thing screams run fast now!

Well, it looks like the car was salvaged and rebuilt, regardless of whether it has a “salvage” title or not. The good news is, it was done in 2001 and on the road (presumably, from registration) thereafter; hence arguing the repairs were sufficient to keep it on the active list.

If you want to buy this car, pay special attention to body integrity. Many salvage vehicles were in wrecks, and you want to make sure the structure is up to snuff.

Thanks guys for the help. I decided that it was too few miles for the age (ignoring the salvage part and even assuming everything is legit). Just sitting around isnt good for the car (we’re talking about an average of 1500 miles/year). Instead I have found a 2003 ES300 with 78,000 for the same price (and a few others around there)…Thats a no brainer