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How to Spot the Gems When Shopping Insurance Salvage Cars

By Mike Richards Updated: 07/26/2022 Posted: 06/21/2017

Even dealers who have been in the business for decades often steer clear of insurance salvage cars for sale. There’s just never any way to be sure that a car is worth fixing and selling – or if it’s even safe to drive. But that doesn’t stop many dealers from checking out the unbeatable deals offered by the salvage auctions. Spotting the gems can be tricky, but it can also lead to big rewards. Here are a few tricks to keep in mind.

Know Your Insurance Possibilities

The biggest thing stopping anyone – be it a consumer or a dealer – from buying insurance salvage cars for sale is the fact that they are difficult to get insured. That presents a problem for just about everyone in the country, since auto insurance is required in all states. Whether you are buying for yourself or to sell to others, you need to be aware of what your insurance options will be for the car. Be sure you’re up to date on laws and practices regarding salvage car coverage.

Upgrade Your Inspection

When it comes to insurance salvage cars, doing a brief inspection to see all the parts are present isn’t enough. You need to crawl all over that car, to be frank. Check out the trunk, the interior, under the hood, under the mats and upholstery, under the car, and more. Be sure nothing is leaking and always ask to do a test drive. If you can, test drive in a place where you can test all speeds or gears, listening for odd sounds especially. This is one sale you don’t want to skimp on with the pre-bidding inspection.

Pester the Seller

Once again, insurance salvage cars aren’t for sale because they are top-notch cars, usually. So you need to know exactly what the seller knows, and that may mean working them a bit more aggressively than usual for information. Find out why it was salvaged, what other accidents it’s been involved it, whether there was any water or fire damage, and anything else you can think of to ask.

It’s especially important to find out if the accident resulted in damage to the electrical system or other things like that, because they can be expensive to diagnose and replace if the exact problem isn’t known.

So What Makes a Gem?

A salvage vehicle that is still worth your time is one that only has collision damage. Fire and water are good signs that you should steer clear. You should also be able to come up with a good estimate on repairs right then and there; if what you see doesn’t give you a clear picture, reconsider buying that insurance salvage car.

Finally, remember this general rule of thumb: including the cost of repairs, you should never be paying more than half what an identical non-salvage used car would run you at the same auction.

Explore our Vehicle Auctions, as well as finding more information about How These Auctions Work.