Buyer Tips

Is it Worth it to Buy a Salvage Car?

By Mike Richards Updated: 09/15/2019 Posted: 09/11/2019

Many people believe that there isn’t much anybody can do with a salvage car, except perhaps scavenging it for parts. However, that’s far from the truth. Plenty of salvage cars can be bought very cheaply, repaired, retitled and then put back on the road. So, is it worth it to buy a salvage car?

What Is a Salvage Car?

Salvage cars are cars got a salvage title. Now, there are several reasons for a car to get a salvage title. Usually, it is because the insurance companies conclude that it is easier to write off a car that had an accident or sustained any sort of damage and pay its owner for its value than to pay for it to be repaired.

Sometimes, though, cars get a salvage title due to acts of vandalism, or because the car has been stolen and recovered only after it has been written off. These cars can be in perfect mechanical condition and actually are great candidates for purchase.

One thing you must remember is that insurance companies are interested in recovering some of the money they had to pay the previous owner of the vehicle. So they don’t keep the salvage vehicles. Rather, they put them up for auction and are willing to part with the vehicles for a very low price.

What to do with a Salvage Car?

However, if you’d like to buy a salvage car just because they are so cheap, you need to think twice first. You can’t just buy a salvage car, even one that is still in working condition, and just use it to drive around town.

Legally, salvage cars can’t be driven on the road before they are repaired and inspected. Only after this process is completed are you issued a ‘rebuilt salvage’ title that allows you to drive the car on the road.

If you are technically inclined, know your way around cars, and don’t mind getting your hands dirty in your spare time, then salvage cars could be a great option for you. These cars are auctioned off for pennies on the dollar compared to the same cars with clean titles. And if you do the work yourself or get good deals with a repair shop to fix the car for you, you can end up owning a car for a lot less than you would pay for it if it had a clean title.

However, there is a process you have to follow along the way. During the repair process, you have to document every spare part purchase and take many pictures of the repair process (before/after) so that you can later register the car and get the rebuilt salvage title. If everything checks out at the inspection at your local motoring authority, you will be issued such a license.

Further Reading

Getting Insurance

Another issue with rebuilt salvage vehicles is that insurance companies don’t really like to insure these cars again. However, if you persuade them to inspect the car themselves, you might get a quote and manage to insure the car. On the other hand, bear in mind that the premium will certainly be higher than it would be for a car with a clear license, simply because it is a car that was once written off.

However, even with all the expenses, inspections and insurance premium worked in, your total cost could be well below the retail price of the same car with a clear license.

Buying a Salvage Car

As mentioned before, these vehicles are usually sold at auctions. These are generally specialized insurance auctions, normally only accessible to the holder of dealer licenses. However, this does not mean you can’t take advantage of this opportunity.

Online auto auction platforms like Auto Auction Mall give you access to a large number of auctions across the country, including insurance and dealer auctions. This allows you to choose among hundreds of thousands of vehicles, including salvage cars. Auto Auction Mall lets you browse, get all the information you need and choose the vehicle you wish to bid on.

However, you cannot bid yourself. Auto Auction Mall will bid on your behalf, up to the maximum bid you set. Once you win the auction, Auto Auction Mall will take care of the paperwork and may even arrange shipping.

Live Salvage Car Auctions

[auctions query=”salvage”]