Are salvage cars worth the money?

If you desperately need a car and if you do not have the budget to buy a new one, cars with salvage titles can prove to be good, cheap options. Some salvage cars can seem to be irresistible propositions, like for instance, you may get a salvage Mercedes-Benz S-Class at the price of a used Hyundai Sonata! However, buying and maintaining a salvage car isn’t really a hassle-free process. So are salvage cars worth the money? Should you not buy them at all? We help you find out.

What is a salvage car?

Well, a salvage car isn’t something beyond repair, but when a car is involved in an accident and the cost of repair is higher than the value of the car, the car is considered totaled. When such totaled cars are fixed and repaired and up for sale again, they earn the salvage title. A salvage car always may not be involved in an accident and some states even award the salvage title to the cars damaged in floods or fires.

Dig some info about the car

The first and very important step is to find out about the car’s history. Things like how was the car damaged, what was the extent of the damage, and what agency rebuilt the car. The extent of crash damage can differ from car to car and there are certain parts in a car like bent frames that are beyond repair. If the car has such issues, stay away from it as buying a car with a bent frame is as good as compromising on safety and that’s not advisable at all.

Moreover, it at times can be extremely difficult to find faults in cars that have been totaled due to floods or fires. Hence, even if the car affected by natural calamities is rebuilt, nobody can assure you that all the issues with the car have been identified and rectified.

Thus, it is recommended to get a detailed history report from agencies like Carfax or AutoCheck even if it requires spending a few extra dollars. You can also get a smart independent mechanic to check up the car and find out about all that has been tinkered with the car.

Scrutinize the transaction details

Verifying the purchase details is yet another important aspect while shopping for a salvage car. Get all the details about the car’s insurance, warranty, and registration and study them thoroughly. Insurance companies are a bit apprehensive about insuring salvaged cars and their occupants as the reliability and safety quotient of these are unpredictable. Insurance schemes for such cars vary from company to company and state to state and you must study the insurance terms and conditions before buying.

The registration process of salvage cars is also cumbersome. Some states require police inspection of the car where police officers themselves test the car before it can be registered and permitted for driving. In some states, the registration process requires a repair shop certification.

Warranty is also a big issue while purchasing a salvage car. Many dealers do not offer a warranty on the car, and while some do, they might ask you to pay extra for the warranty package. We would recommend you to get the warranty coverage or find some third-party warranty coverage.

Get the financials right

While there are quite some companies that finance salvage cars but we will not recommend you to get a loan for a salvage car purchase. Salvage vehicles have no Blue Book value and declaring the value of your vehicle to the financer is more difficult than it is on a used or a new car. Since the life and reliability of a titled car is a question mark, lenders generally charge hefty interest rates and offer very short repayment periods.

Moreover, most new car or even used car dealers do not accept salvage cars as trade-ins and you have to get rid of the car all by yourself. So if you have any plans that involve trading in the salvage car for a new or used car, you might just want to back off and think twice. Considering all these factors, it never is a smart move to get a titled car on loan.

Also, watch how much you end up spending. While you may be tempted by the dead-cheap price of some new salvaged luxury and performance cars that would range somewhere around $20,000 to $30,000, these salvage cars are bound to come up with some or the other niggles during your ownership period and you’ll end up spending a lot on those expensive repairs.

Avoid making such purchases as they will create a bigger hole in your pocket. Instead, get an older car that typically has a lower price tag and even if you have to spend some more on repairs, you’ll not regret doing so. So, always compare the price of the car with the cost of repairs before you make a purchase.

Summing things up…

The cars that we drive today are nothing less than engineering marvels. With automakers investing a lot in making these cars safe and efficient, fixing these cars after they’re damaged to an extent where they have to be declared as totaled, is extremely difficult. One of the best ways for resellers to book profits on such cars is to get these cars running for as little money as possible. Now, when these cars are repaired for cheap, the safety and reliability factors of the car are literally gone for a toss. Even if the car gets new and refreshed safety modules, there is no way for you to ensure they are working properly and safely. This is the biggest area of concern about salvage cars.

Yes, you end up spending a lot of money on used and new cars but then you end up compromising on safety, big time. And we don’t think the compromise is worth it. Yes, it is not always true that salvage cars are unsafe or unreliable and you can find some good cars but the chances of those are scanty.

For instance, cars damaged in a calamity like hailstorms have damages on the body while the engine and the essential mechanicals are in mint condition and require little or no repair. Also, cars recovered from robberies sometimes get the salvage title and may not have any form of damage on them. But you really need to get lucky to find salvage cars like these or you need to scan the salvage market thoroughly to get one of these.

Moreover, if the salvage car is going to be your only and primary car, we would recommend you to change your plans as you’ll certainly be having a hard time with it. Buying a salvage car can be a good alternative for anybody who is looking for a project car and wants to play around fixing it. It might even be a good option for someone looking for a second car that they’ll rarely use and just keep at their vacation home.

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