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Top Tips to Save You Grief When Buying a Salvage Car for the First Time

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If you don’t have much money yet need a car, you can examine the possibility of buying a salvage car, especially if you know how to restore it. There are many reasons for junk cars, but the common theme is that getting them repaired professionally is more than what they are worth. However, cars not seriously damaged can often be fixed and made roadworthy again, and you can get a good deal even if it has a salvage title that will compromise its value when you want to sell it.

According to experts, a restored salvage car can cost around 40% less than a comparable vehicle of the same age. As handsome as the price of a salvage price is, you need to put in considerable effort in identifying a suitable vehicle, restoring it, and buying insurance for it. Some aspects you need to consider if the trouble and expense are worth buying a salvage car:

Tips on Buying a Salvage Car for the First Time

    1. Reliability – Know from where to Buy
    2. Facts – Establish the Facts
    3. Theft Recovery – Try to get a Theft Recovery Salvage Vehicle
    4. Refurbished Vehicle – Buy a Refurbished Vehicle or Restore Yourself
    5. Cost Calculations – Work the Figures

Know Where to Buy Reliably

The used car business has acquired a bad name for foisting lemons on unsuspecting buyers, which is why you must buy the salvage vehicle from a reputed dealer. You can do the rounds of the established dealers to find out if they have any vehicle that meets your expectations. You should focus on popular cars because you are likely to find it easier to find cheap spares and components to keep the overall cost of restoration affordable.

Buying a fancy sports car may seem attractive, but you can be sure it will be far more expensive to restore. You must identify cars in running condition or those with superficial damage that you can repair economically. Buying from a junk car dealer you know is the best, otherwise, ask for references from friends and relatives or go online to check what customers have to say about them. If you want to buy a car at an auction, do so only after a thorough evaluation.

Establish the Facts

If you are satisfied that the car represents good value and you can restore it relatively easily and cheaply, you must check up on the car’s history. You should check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) with the DMV to establish that the car has a valid salvage title.

A second check with the National Insurance Crime Bureau will reveal if the vehicle has been reported stolen but not officially recovered. You can find the VIN at several places in the car, including the interior dash on the driver’s side, the engine bay, and the doorframe. If the numbers are not the same in all places or you spot any attempt to deface the number, it should ring alarm bells.

Try to Get a Theft Recovery Salvage Vehicle

Theft recovery salvage vehicle buying a salvage car

Typically, when a vehicle is reported stolen but not recovered in around 30 days, the insurance company writes off the car as a total loss and pays the owner. If the car is subsequently recovered, the insurance company gives it a salvage title even if it does not have any damage at all, according to https://www.junkcargenie.com/.

The insurance companies sell the cars to salvage car dealers who try to resell them to willing buyers. These cars represent good value even though they cost more than an old and damaged vehicle. However, you need to get the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic before making an offer as there may be damage not readily perceptible.

Buy a Refurbished Vehicle or Restore Yourself

If you do not know how to repair and restore a salvage car, you can still save significantly by buying a refurbished salvage car from a dealer. If you buy from a reputed dealer, you will be able to drive it out from the lot because they would have made it roadworthy and completed the required licensing that permits you to drive on public roads. However, the prices of these cars are more.

You still have the responsibility of engaging a mechanic to inspect and evaluate the car to ascertain its value. However, if you are a competent DIY car restorer, you will be able to know the damage and repair it to your standards. You can focus on the more important issues and leave the minor ones for later when you have the time and the money. The more repairs you can do yourself, such as replacing a Toyota Tundra catalytic converter, the more your savings.

Work the Figures

The insurance company changes the status of a car to salvage only when it thinks that the cost of repair is more than the worth of the car. The damage doesn’t need to be extensive as it takes little to write off an old but otherwise roadworthy car. If a new car has a salvage title, you can expect serious damage unless it is a stolen vehicle recovered after the insurance has been paid out to the owner.

As a thumb rule, the cost of a fully reconstructed and refurbished salvage car should not exceed 60% of the cost of a car of the same model and year with a clean title. If you are buying a reconstructed model, you can deduct 40% from its market value to arrive at its fair value. You can know the market value by consulting the Kelley Blue Book. If you are repairing it yourself, you need to accurately assess how much it will cost to make the purchase worthwhile.


As will be evident, you are not allowed to repair a salvage car and start driving it where you please without the vehicle going through inspection and certification of its roadworthiness. Only a police officer or a licensed body shop can inspect and certify the car, however, every state has its own rules.

After a car passes the inspection, the DMV will change the title from salvage to rebuilt, according to Auto Savvy. Many states will need the details of the damage and repairs to be included in the registration papers. If you are buying a reconstructed car, don’t expect a warranty. Financing is virtually impossible, and insurance beyond the basic liability coverage is not possible to buy. You must be prepared to own the salvage car till its end of life as there is almost no resale market for them.

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