Salvage Title


I have been looking at Priuses on Ebay and there is a Auto dealer and dismantler in my area that is selling them for $5-6000 less then other used cars. The sticker is that these are all salvage titles. I know these are car that were totaled in an accident and then repaired.The parts are all replaced with genuine toyota parts and they invite you to have it inspected. My question is how big of a risk is this? Can someone really tell if the frame has been tweaked or any other hidden problems on these cars?



Have it inspected at a body shop, or two. If it checks out you just might score yourself a good deal. Don’t buy it if you ever plan on selling the car though, the perception of salvage titled cars is poor and you won’t get much for it. And ask the seller to pay for the independent inspection, they may say no but it’s worth a shot.


Resale value is going to be very low. It would take a good frame shop to tell you the condition of the frame. Frankly a properly tweaked frame is fine. It is the one someone patched together you need to look out for.


The downside is that most, or all, lending institutions will not loan money on a salvage title vehicle and as mentioned, the resale value later will take a huge hit.

I would have it inspected with special attention paid to the subframe and strut towers. If those items have not suffered any damage then the car should be fine; knock on wood.
This would mean that the damage was probably superficial and falls into what I call a “bolt-on repair”. Cars like this often appear to be damaged far worse than they actually are.

A salvage title would not scare me off depending on the price and what the inspection shows. My last Subaru was on a salvage title for about 8 years and went 300k miles without a problem.


You cannot get a regular car loan on them (you get high interest) and also no comprehensive or collision insurance coverages, just liability.


Thanks for the info. It seems like the frame is the major possible problem. What do you think about the electronics on a Prius after its been totaled. Is there any more concern for this aspect of the car than say a Civic for example?


So much the better if they have records of the damage (insurance) estimate and repairs.


I don’t see electronics as being much of an issue at all.


I’d really try to find out what the problem was. Imagine the issues you could have after a salt water flood. Or a fresh water flood. Mud? Fell off a truck? Was it an accident? Front end? So many questions. Could be a deal, could be a bummer.


Yeah, get proof of the damage and repairs. Flood damage, especially on a Prius, is a deal breaker no matter how well it was “repaired”. However, body panels are so expensive these days that there are cars that are “totalled” and then “salvaged” on mostly cosmetic damage. A 15mph front end collision, that ruins the hood, core support, fenders, and airbags could very well “total” that car and if fixed properly yield no further complications. Has to be a well-known dealer though, and get it inspected thoroughly. Make sure the airbags are actually still in there, too. Some people don’t put them back because they’re so expensive.