Should i buy a salvaged car?

hyundai
sonata
used
selling

#1

what’s the deal with salvaged cars that have been fixed up? are they out of the question? if i get it check out by a mechanic before i buy it is it ok?


#2

I’ve owned two. An Audi that was sold without discolsure and a 89 Mazda 626 sold with disclosure. I got my money’s worth from the Audi and salvage wasn’t it’s problem. The Mazda was the best value car that ever I’ve owned. Purchased after my inspection including underside inspection. Weak since me and my engineer neighbor did only a visual. Bet $6k on a two year old car with 29k miles. Won. Does the seller have before and after pictures? Is the seller in the business of repairing and selling salvaged cars for experience and equipment. Body shop rather than mechanic better choice for inspection. Limit your bet in dollars. If you buy, remember you will disclose on sale and that impacts the market and price.


#3

Each salvaged car is unique. Some are flood damaged, some accident damage, some older cars can be totalled by a relatively small accident. A salvaged newer car likely had extensive damage of some sort.

My one experience with a salvaged car was an '87 Saab 900 turbo. The back of another car was used to repair the car after a bad rear end hit. The paint didn’t have the same factory quality, but the car gave us good service. The fuel tank and fuel pump were not the proper ones for the motor as the rear end was from a non turbo car. Of course you learn these things when the fuel pump quits. The turbo has a 2 fuel pump set up and the fused together repaired car only had one fuel pump.

What this means is with any salvaged car there are many more “unknowns” than you’d have with a conventional used car. Since the salvaged cars are sold at a huge discount you takes your chances and see how you do. If you are not the gambling type pass on a salvaged car, it is definately a gamble.


#4

Judging by your tags, the Sonata was repaired after an accident. What year, and what damage was done? Frequently cars are totaled because they have unibody (frame) damage. If the car drives straight and your mechanic thinks it’s OK, then it might be worth a shot. Make sure you find out exactly what the accident damage was so that the mechanic can spend more time evaluating those items.


#5

Its all “if”. If it wasn’t a flood. If the damage was properly repaired and there are no safety or alignment problems. If you are getting it at a steep discount. If you will drive it into the ground and will not sell or trade it. If the insurance company will insure it. And so on.


#6

Yes, if you are willing to assume a good deal more risk and have the price of a good car in the bank plus a $20,000 emergency fund. First things first. If you are barely scraping along and are trying to cut corners, the answer is no. You can do lots of things if you have lots of money.


#7

Had one of those myself. Also salvaged (close encounter with a large tree). Probably my favorite of all the cars I’ve owned since 1961. Just a really nice car.


#8

Our family has had five of them now, without much in the way of problems that wouldn’t have happened anyway. The only salvage related problem we’ve had to date was that when our Mazda 626 was rebuilt, the power steering pump was apparently replaced with a used power steering pump from a turbo unit. When the pump failed a decade later and I went to replace it, the pully wheel on the front wouldn’t fit on the replacement pump.

Because it’s difficult to sell a car with a salvage title, you probably shouldn’t buy one unless you plan to drive it forever. Unlike most other buyers, the junk yard won’t care if the title says Salvage.


#9

My understanding is a vehicle is declared “salvage” when the damage to it will cost more than the car is worth to properly repair. Typically this “cost-worth” analysis is made by the insurance companies.

Salvage cars are fixed to be resold when someone believes they can repair a car for less than the insurance company estimates. This often leads the person doing the repairs to cut corners to lower the repair costs.

As others have noted, buying a salvage car is a gamble. Once you get the car fully inspected by “your” independent mechanic, you’ll be in a position to determine if you want to accept the gamble.


#10

I know a family that buys nothing but salvaged cars. Their recent Camry had a different year motor when they got it, and the engine computer would not communicate properly with the engine sensors. After they got that patched up, the axle fell out of the transmission for lack of a retainer clip in the transmission (it had been assembled with only the rubber boot holding the axle in). Then some paint came off in the car wash.

After they sorted all this out in the first couple of months, the car was not much more problematic than any other late-model car, and they figured that they still came out financially ahead.

I see lots of on-line ads for people trying to sell salvage title cars for full blue book price, assuring you that it was fixed up as good as new. Don’t bother with those.


#11

Also, remember that all warrantys are null and void when the title says “Salvage”. Just because the car is only two years old, that does not mean it has the remainder of the factory 4-year warranty. The dealer won’t care if the failure would otherwise have been fixed on a factory recall, or has nothing to do with the damage that caused the car to be deemed salvage.


#12

I’ve seen a back half and a front half that came from two unit body cars welded together to make one car. The first car I saw made from two cars was a 1951 Nash. The claim was that the front half was good and the back half was good, so the whole car should be good. I don’t think I buy this argument. In those days, we didn’t have salvage titles–just “buyer beware”.


#13

A 1951 Nash was a pretty simple vehicle. Closer to a farm cart than a modern car in many ways. Welding the two halves together might work out although I’d like to know a whole lot more about what the drive shaft was attached to at the ehrr … back … of the car.


#14

50 - 50 chance of diasaster or dream car. Do you feel lucky?


#15

My biggest reservation has been the fact that if you change your mind for whatever reason, it is very difficult to get your money back. Cars are a bad “investment” as it is, a salvage one is even worse. I would $$ equal to what I don’t care to loose.