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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm shopping for a used car for my daughter going off to college next month. I am running into a lot of salvage titles, I've even driven one and it seemed fine. I'm leery of salvage titles but thought that I would ask if anyone knows if the phrase has different meanings in different states. One seller tells me that the car was wrecked new and repaired and they have been driving it for 80k miles. To me it seems like if it was wrecked new then the damage had to be very significant for it to be deemed salvage while and older car could be deemed salvage for much less damage or am i missing something?
 

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Salvage can mean a lot of things. Generally it means wrecked and totaled by the insurance company. However salvage titles, especially along any of the coastal areas, can also mean for water damage, ie: flooding. Salvage vehicles are always a gamble. Body on frame vehicles are better, not great, but better than unibody vehicles to try and rebuild. One of the big issues is always going to be the frame. It is hard to properly straighten a frame back into tolerances. It takes the proper tools and know how. All the rest can pretty much be bought at a salvage yard and put on.

Unibody vehicles in my opinion, once the "frame" is damaged, it a lost cause. Unibody construction when new is a good frame, once damaged in any way it is structurally weakened. I have never been a fan of salvaged vehicles. I know that there are others her that are, but I have seen people that bought more trouble than the vehicle is worth. Keep in mind that in the value side a salvage/rebuild is at the bottom of the heap, just one step barely above the salvaged, un rebuilt vehicle.
 

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There is a lot of difference state to state. It is complicated and I am by no means an expert. Some states issue salvage titles to totaled vehicles and they get fixed and keep the salvage title. Other states issue salvage titles to totaled cars and once they are repaired and inspected you can get a rebuilt title. I know Kentucky issues what is called a red title which I understand is good as long as the car stays in Kentucky. If someone tries to title it out of state I hear some states will not accept it. So, it is complicated. I would want to know what state issued the first salvage title and see what rules apply.

There is also something called title washing where people take a salvaged car from a strict state to a state with relaxed rules to get a better title (Non branded).

I have know several people whole have bought rebuilt cars and have had no issue. You just have to do your due diligence. If I were buying one I would want to know what type of damage. I would avoid a flood car. You can often google the vin and find the auction listing where the car was sold at auction by insurance if it has not been too long. I often find pictures with these old listings. Just depends on how long it has been.
 

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If you check out my showcase, I bought my salvage 2017 Pilot EX-L at auction (Texas). After completing the work, I took my vehicle to get inspections and then off to the courthouse to pay the TTL. I now have a "Rebuilt" title. To perform the work I did would have cost the insurance company $15k to fix at a shop. Each insurance company have their own formulas to write of vehicles but sometimes they write them off to take care of their client. I've seen older vehicles written off for minor bumper damage. So if your considering a rebuilt vehicle, it would be wise to know what the damage was and inspect closely the work. If it was flooded, then that should also be known on the title (is in Texas). Don't over pay. If KKB values a vehicle at $10k under normal circumstances, a rebuilt should cost at least a 1/2 to 1/3 less so $5k to $6.5k. Remember to that a dealership will not give you a good trade in value. When your done, to recoup your $ It's best to take it to auction yourself (Copart).
 

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The general rule of thumb for salvage valuation was 25% of the going value for a comparable non salvage vehicle. There were always some exceptions but as a rule of thumb 25% is a good starting point. When I was dealing in vehicles in my old job we generally walked away from any salvage/rebuilt unless we could use it in our fleet. Otherwise the effort was not worth the return. We also used NADA instead of KBB. KBB seems to be a bit more dealer friendly in their valuations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If you check out my showcase, I bought my salvage 2017 Pilot EX-L at auction (Texas). After completing the work, I took my vehicle to get inspections and then off to the courthouse to pay the TTL. I now have a "Rebuilt" title. To perform the work I did would have cost the insurance company $15k to fix at a shop. Each insurance company have their own formulas to write of vehicles but sometimes they write them off to take care of their client. I've seen older vehicles written off for minor bumper damage. So if your considering a rebuilt vehicle, it would be wise to know what the damage was and inspect closely the work. If it was flooded, then that should also be known on the title (is in Texas). Don't over pay. If KKB values a vehicle at $10k under normal circumstances, a rebuilt should cost at least a 1/2 to 1/3 less so $5k to $6.5k. Remember to that a dealership will not give you a good trade in value. When your done, to recoup your $ It's best to take it to auction yourself (Copart).
So are the sellers likely buying cars at auction at 5k then trying to sell them for 10k or something similar to that?
 

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So are the sellers likely buying cars at auction at 5k then trying to sell them for 10k or something similar to that?
Maybe less.
Check out www.copart.com
You can bid too, depending on what state your in. Just must remember auction fees and other charges.
I won the auction for this 2012 Crosstour with less than 90k miles on it for $1750. After fees $2500. Another $3000 for parts and tires, TTL (my labor free). Ended up with $5500 in it. These 2 years ago listed for $12000 on Carguru.
137999
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the info, I went to copart and then also some other sites and I was able to find a picture of the car before repairs and the damage was significant.
 

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Thanks for the info, I went to copart and then also some other sites and I was able to find a picture of the car before repairs and the damage was significant.
Can you post a before and after photo? It be interesting to see. Ty
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
It looks like the front end is torn up to the radiator. My fear would be suspension damage but that may just be me being cautious. It's not a Pilot but its what she kind of has her heart set on, white NIssan Rogue. I think I was told that a CRV is a family car.
 

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It looks like the front end is torn up to the radiator. My fear would be suspension damage but that may just be me being cautious. It's not a Pilot but its what she kind of has her heart set on, white NIssan Rogue. I think I was told that a CRV is a family car.
Ya, good call.
This vehicle would have needed to have the frame straightened. The damage was low on the two frame rails.
In my case on my Pilot and Crosstour, the damage is limited to the radiator support, hood, fender, radiator, ac condenser, horns and various plastics. No frame damage.
138020

Drill out the welds and remove radiator support.....
138022
138023

Note the 2 clean undamaged rails.
Then weld in a new radiator support and install new hooh latch, radiator, ac condenser etc etc
138024

So again, anyone ever considering this job as a project, make sure your front in damage is limited to the grille radiator support hood and headlights etc. If it's low on the bumper and support rails, IMO, it's junkyard fodder.
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks, I am learning a ton about how auctions work. Maybe 15-20% of the cars I have come across are salvage titles, at least now I know better how to do a VIN search and better questions to ask.
 

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As a general rule, avoid salvage title cars. It may be a good deal, but you don't know who did the repairs and whether it was done rushed or they did a good thorough job. I'm sure if you did buy one, you would likely have no problems, but with so many options when searching for a new car, I use clean title as one of my requirements just to help narrow things down.
 

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My daughter's '97 Avalon became a salvage title vehicle after two separate not-at-fault accidents that dented the driver-side front and rear doors. The Avalon drives well but is not pretty on one side. Insurance pay outs for both separate accidents pushed the vehicle into salvage title territory. The initial cost of the used Avalon minus pay out(s) = net zero. Depending upon the history and damage a salvage title vehicle could work out but it's tough to find a good one needing minimal work.
 
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