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Suspension on 2011 Ford Fusion

I’m currently shopping for a used car. The couple that I work for are convinced that they got a fantastic deal on a fixed up salvaged vehicle and that I might want to buy a car from the same guys who refurbish salvages. I drove their car on the highway for a few hours the other day. The area where I was driving had some gentle bumps and lots of curvy places. While the ride seems otherwise very smooth, I noticed that the car feels as if it has shock absorbers meant for a much, much heavier vehicle. It rocks from side to side and kind of waggles side to side, as if one was riding atop a pylon made of jello, mounted on an earthquake simulator. Is this something peculiar to this particular Fusion model, or is this symptomatic of the fact that this is a salvage vehicle?

There’s a reason most people avoid buying salvaged cars. But if you too want a car that rides like a pylon of jello atop an earthquake simulator (great description, by the way!), go for it!

It really could be either. There is a reason salvage cars are so cheap, they are wrecked cars that require more repair cost than they are worth. These could include cars that have been underwater or are the product of two cars welded together. The under-water cars are a huge risk because no one can determine the long term effects.

The “clip job” salvage car is a car hit in the front welded to the remains of a car hit in the rear. I have seen some superb examples of cars like these that I would not hesitate to buy but I’m a retired automotive engineer and I saw the work in-progress. I’ve also seen some unbelievably bad examples barely tack welded together. I’d pass on this Fusion based on your ride description alone.

Just the fact that you felt the need to ask about the way it drove is reason enough to pass on this vehicle. There are used cars all over where ever you live.

Run away, fast.

Buying a salvage vehicle and expecting it to be both safe and reliable is in the same category as going to a house of ill repute and expecting to find a woman who is both virginal and disease-free. While it is possible that you could get lucky in regard to your expectations, it is extremely unlikely with both the vehicle and the woman.

A salvage vehicle can turn out to be a great car good for the long haul; or it can turn out to be a nightmare. I’ve owned a couple of salvage vehicles but being a mechanic I was fully aware of the damage and the way repairs were done.
It all boils down to why it became a salvage vehicle, how hard an impact was, and whether or not all problems were found and repaired properly.

It sounds like the couple you mention are convinced they got a sweet deal based on price alone and nothing more. My feeling is that car has some suspension and alignment issues.

Sometimes repairs may be done in a shoddy manner (looks good on the surface though…) and problems can exist which could turn out to be lethal.

I wouldn’t buy a late model salvage car unless the price was very low and it drove like new. Trying to unload your problem car onto someone else could be extremely difficult, so you should only buy a car like this if you plan on keeping it until it is worn out in ten or more years. This one doesn’t sound like it can be trusted to last that long. When you decline the offer, do tell the sellers what bothered you. It could be something they jyst didn’t fix correctly. My brother had a salvage Civic years ago that was great. But it was a bit older.

For an insurance company to total a 2011 car there must have been major damage. For an older car it might just be a bumper replacement that causes it to be totaled. That could be replaced without huge difficulty by someone able to track down.the right bumper.

It isn’t handling peculiar to that Fusion model. It might be because of major damage that resulted in the salvage title, or the vehicle might have other chassis problems.

I too would avoid buying a salvage car unless I knew the exact details that led it to be salvage, the details were acceptable to me, I knew that the repairs were properly done, and I knew for a fact that it was safe. Handling that poor does not enable the vehicle to be considered “safe” in my judgment.

I’m happy that your friends are happy with their deal. I hope it doesn’t suddenly turn sour on them. I’d advise you to look elsewhere.

Buying salvage cars is like gambling in Vegas - you always hear from the big winner, never the thousands of losers…

And I might add that often a car can have some serious, or even lethal, issues even if it was never issued a salvage title or had any justification for a salvage title.

If that Fusion is wallowing on the roadway then it’s got a problem; or more than one.

It has serious problems and I suspect the great deal is still a great deal of money. What would be a great price in a mechanically sound 2011 Fusion is far higher than you should pay for any Salvage Fusion, even one working well, as this one clearly is not. The salvage title dramatically reduces the vaue of any car because resale value is much lower. They have no value as trade-ins and most people who know what it means will steer clear. That’s why I said you should only buy a salvaged car if you intend to drive it until it dies a natural death (not in two weeks of sloppy workmanship.) To have that kind of confidence you have to know exactly why it was totaled and what has been to make it a safe, reliable car. Confidence in the people who did the work. Meet them if you can, if not, research their history.

I had a colleague that purchased rebuilt cars that had salvage titles. She had an Oldsmobile Cutlass that was five or six years newer than the one I was driving. Her car really rusted badly and I often wondered if it had something to do with how the metal was prepped for painting after the car was rebuilt. When she finally decided to replace the car, she bought another rebuilt car, a Buick, with a salvage title. I know she could afford a new car or a good, late model used car, but she preferred to be cheap.
Unfortunately, she also didn’t want to spend money on her health. She had suffered with a pain for a long time and when it finally became unbearable, she did go to a doctor who immediately sent her to the hospital. She never came out. She died of cancer, which, if she had seen a doctor earlier, it might have saved her life.
My recommendation is to bypass this Fusion. There are plenty of cars for sale that have not been in a major accident.

Had a friend who would always drive higher end cars. We had the same income and I was pretty sure these cars were out of our budget. So I asked him and he said he buys salvage cars and likes the idea of feeling rich. He would go through the cars pretty fast, each would have an issue that nobody could fix. It ranged from alignment to airbag light to some other stuff. All related to the salvage title. He would offload them on the same body shop and pick another one and in the process would take a major financial hit.

Your colleague’s Oldsmobile might have acquired a salvage title due to having been flooded. That would explain the rust.

People avoid doctors for many reasons, Usually it isn’t money. Speaking for myself, I only see a doctor if I’m having a problem or have a prescription that I need to keep current. I see my pain doctor to keep my pain meds current, and I see my GP 'cause she’s necessary for referrals when when I do have a problem. I stopped seeing my cardiologist because the meds he had me on came with side effects that were unacceptable to me anyway, and if my ticker flickers again I’ll be back in cardiac ICU anyway… or on the way to the incinerator. No need to visit a cardiologist for a “routine visit”. The last time they tried to do an echocardiogram they had to abort the test almost immediately anyway because my heart went of the verge of failure. They had to call the cardiologist, and get my heart back on track. I was perhaps less than one minute into the test when they aborted. So, I figure, why bother going to see him? He’ll prescribe medications that I won’t take anyway.

I also had an excellent dental program before I retired, and I haven’t been to the dentist in many years.

Understand that I am NOT recommending my approach. I know full well the likely results. I’m only pointing out that many people, perhaps most, don’t go to doctors for reasons other than the cost.

One day I’m going to wake up dead. But until then, at least I won’t live life all doped up on meds. It’s a personal choice we all have to make.

If I had your problems I’d consider doctors’ appointments pointless, too, mtnbike. But that’s like owning a car with an engine that is burning oil at an alarming rate and replacing the engine wouldn’t make economic sense. You just drive it as long as you can, adding oil as needed. Most automotive problems aren’t like that. You either have to fix the car or send to the scrapper because it won’t move, isn’t safe, or won’t pass some kind of inspection. I don’t know which of those my body is, but I sure do take a lot of oil to keep running.

For re-builders to make any money, they must be able to repair the wreck as cheaply as possible…Every penny they spend on parts and labor is coming out of their profit margin. They tend to concentrate their efforts on restoring the appearance of the vehicle and they tend to ignore things you can’t see…Mismatched used suspension parts like springs and struts can result in a vehicle with interesting ride characteristics…

Thanks Mark.
I wish my parts could be fixed, but they can’t. All they can do is give me medications that allegedly will keep me going a little longer at the cost of a greatly reduced quality of life. I watched my dad’s quality of life plummet due largely to the side effects of the same meds, recognized the same thing happening in mine, and chose not to play. Understand too that I have nobody depending on me, so I can make the choice with a clear conscience… and I have no wife to fight with about taking the meds, so I’m free to choose.

My choice clearly isn’t right for everyone.