If you are on a tight budget or would just like to save some cash when buying your next set of wheels, salvage cars are a viable option.
But buying salvage vehicles comes with its issues and obstacles that you’ll have to deal with. You want to make sure that you buy repairable vehicles, that you inspected it thoroughly and know what to expect. You also need to know the approximate cost of the repairs you will have to do, as well as the extent of those repairs. All this has an impact on the purchase price and will affect your budget. You should try to save money wherever you can.
There are a few ways you could save cash with repairable salvage vehicles, but some stand out the most. You could buy salvage cars online, saving fuel money and time you’d spend visiting car lots and dealers. You could also find places near you where you can buy repairable salvage cars, saving on the delivery costs. Additionally, if you have any mechanical knowledge and could do the repairs yourself, you could save on labor costs.
So, let’s take a look into the salvage cars, what they are, how to go about buying vehicles near you so you can optimize the purchase process and keep the costs to a minimum.
What Are Salvage Cars?
A salvage car is a vehicle that has a salvage title, which is issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to vehicles that have sustained some sort of damage. What this title means is that the vehicle can’t be driven on the road in its current state, even if it will move under its own power without any issues. Cars that doesn’t have a salvage title are often referred to as clean title cars.
A car can be issued a salvage title for a large number of reasons, damage being the most obvious one. So, if a car has been in an accident, the insurance company will assess the damage. If the repair costs are above a certain value, it gets totaled. The threshold for the car to be totaled is usually around 75 percent, but this figure varies from state to state. If the repair costs are above the said threshold, the insurance company will pay the claim to the owner of the vehicle. They then take possession of the car and take out a salvage title vehicles notice for it.
But accidents are not the only reason a car could lose its clean title and get a salvage title. For example, flood damage would also render a car salvage. Even acts of vandalism would render a car salvage. And if it has been stolen and retrieved after the insurance company paid the claim, it is again given a salvage title.
But what happens with these cars after they are in possession of the insurance companies? Well, to recover as much of the claim they paid to the previous owner, the insurance companies sell these cars. This is usually done through vehicle auctions. This means that to buy a salvage car you have to hit up a vehicle auction.
What Are Car Auctions?
Car auctions are basically like any other auction, just as loud and often crowded with the addition of exhaust fumes and engine and other car noises. It can be an overwhelming experience for someone who attends an auction for the first time.
What you need to know is that there are two basic types of auctions: public and closed. Now, if you want to buy cars that are near new or used, you should either go to the dealer or hit up a private live auction, where the car dealer gets their stock. Usually, people haggle over car prices with the dealers but never really get the deal they come for. The truth is that those with a dealer license have probably purchased the car at an auction, below wholesale price and is probably making a significant profit off you. The largest of these dealer-license-only auction houses in North America is Copart inc.
Auctions that Sell Salvage Cars
So what you need to do is purchase auctioned vehicles. But these closed auctions, or car dealer auctions, are not where you’d find your next salvage vehicle. These are auctions where either brand new or off-lease cars and trade-ins that are near new are sold. What you need to be looking at is the other type of auctions: the public ones.
These auctions, unlike dealer auctions that require a dealer’s license to attend, are open to everyone. But expect the quality of vehicles to be well below that of the dealer-license auctions. And this is where you’ll find your salvage cars.
But as we are on a money-saving quest, we are looking for a way to find a salvage auction near us. Well, there are a few ways of going about it. You could go through newspapers and specialist magazines looking for auction adds, or you could simply bring the auctions to your home by going online. Let’s look into this a bit further.
Finding a Salvage Auction Near You
Traditionally, you’d sit in your car and drive around from one auction to another, looking at hundreds of vehicles, spending hundreds of dollars on fuel and spending time and nerves driving from one location to another. With the emergence of the internet, the search for an auction near you is easier and attending an auction from your home has also become possible.
Basically, more and more people are using the internet and businesses, auctions included, are moving online. While you might use the internet search engines to find an auction closest to your location, you can also attend from the comfort of your home. In terms of cash-saving strategy, this beats them all.
Over the years, auction companies and businesses have seen the opportunity to exploit this niche and provide access to thousands of vehicles of all shapes and sizes and in all conditions, including salvage vehicles. Companies like Auto Auction Mall are among the most reputable and largest auction marketplaces where you’ll be able to browse through hundreds of thousands of vehicles on offer.
The beauty of using online car services is that you can tailor your search parameters to your preferences. Usually, when buying a car, you look at your specific needs. All these filters can be applied to the search, and you can only look at vehicles you’d like to buy. If you’d still like to attend the auction in person, you can only look at results that are close to you. It is also a good way of finding out more information about the car even before you hit the auction up.
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You are usually provided with photos of the vehicle, a short description, and a VIN. You can use this to find out more about the car’s service history through various other online resources. Once you have your targets picked, you can go to the auction and inspect the cars further in person. But you don’t have to do that. If you are looking from a cost saving perspective, the least distance the car has to travel to you the better, meaning lower transport costs. You can complete the whole purchase process online.
Auto Auction Mall will assign a manager to you who will guide you through the process, provide you with information and do the bidding and purchasing for you. This is where your preparation kicks in as you are expected to give a budget limit that the manager will not go above. And once you have the car locked in, they can help you clear it from the auction house and assist you with arranging the transport and delivery.
So basically, you don’t have to look for a salvage auction near you, you can bring it to your home.
But there are a few words of caution before you start clicking away.
What to Look For in Salvage Cars?
When using a salvage vehicle auction online, you are relying on the information provided to you by the service you are using. So, make sure that you utilize it to the fullest extent and, when possible, ask for additional information.
Sometimes you might find a rough looking car that has extensive body damage, which was caused by an act of vandalism, and you’d typically turn away. But, this car could potentially be the one you are looking for because, on the mechanical side, everything is working correctly. All you’d have to repair is cosmetic damage.
Also, if a car looks great in the photos, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a gem. It could be that the car has extensive flood damage that isn’t evident in the photos. The danger of purchasing a flood-damaged car is the fact that electronic devices are easily damaged by water.
Even if you inspect the car in person, it is hard to find issues with a flood-damaged car unless you dig deeper. The owner might have cleaned up the interior, but sometimes the stale smell can remain, mold and mildew are the usual reasons. Rust can also start creeping in, but if you can’t always start the vehicle because if the electronics are damaged, you will notice.
Other than that, it is basically a matter of preparing as best you can to set the budget right, so that even after you factor in the repair costs, the car comes in way below its equivalent sold by your local dealer. And this is usually the case.
Remember that repairs are necessary because you can’t legally drive a salvage car on the road without it being properly repaired and rebranded. It has to go through a recertification process and inspection. For this reason, make sure you do the work properly and keep track of all the documents, receipts, and photos of the repair process. Bear in mind that you will need to file the right paperwork with the DMV.
Another word of caution is that insurance companies are usually reluctant to work with repaired salvages, which is what your car would be once you’re done fixing it. And even if they do work with salvages, the premium is often quite high. What you are advised to do is negotiate with the insurance company and have them inspect the car. You should also be transparent about your repair process and show that everything has been done according to the rulebook. Then you might get a fair and more reasonable quote.
So, if you are looking to save some cash when buying vehicles, especially auctioned vehicles, look for salvage cars at online auctions.
They are easy to navigate the live auctions using the advanced search tools available. Many sites, like ours, also have a live chat feature as well as an advanced search vehicle finder, so you can always ask for help and advice.
Some of our most searched-for vehicles and makes at the moment include:
Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Jetta, Land Rover, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Ford Mustang, Nissan Diesel X-Trail, Victory Motorcycles, Trail King, Arctic Cat, Sterling Truck, Triumph Motorcycle, and the Tesla Model S and Tesla Model 3.
These vehicles, of any vehicle type are based all over the US, so whether you’re from West Virginia, North Dakota, Salt Lake City, or Sun Valley, there will be salvage car auction centres close to you. Just use the advanced search feature on the vehicle finder and search by location. We can even help you ship your vehicle, just ask for help in the live chat window. Check out today’s auctions and bid online – you can find anything from a dirt bike to a Dodge Challenger to a Lamborghini Gallardo!