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Pros & Cons of Buying a Salvage Auto

The Pros and Cons of Buying a Salvaged Car

What is a salvaged auto?

A salvage vehicle is one that has such extensive damage that it is not worth it for the insurance company to invest in the repairs to fix it. A car is considered totaled when the cost of repairs exceeds the car's value. 

Pros: Price & Parts

The main advantage of buying a salvaged auto is that it costs less than a car with a clean title.  Cost savings is the big benefit to choosing this route.  Salvage autos are also excellent to use for parts for your existing vehicle. 


A salvage car may have severe damage, or may have only cosmetic damage.  Inexperienced salvage title buyers will want to do a little research to fully understand the issues that may arise with salvage vehicles:  

  • Repairs may have been done with stolen or low quality parts
  • Some insurers will refuse to cover a salvage title 
  • If you do get insurance, in the event of a claim, you may only receive 80% or less of the car’s listed value
  • Usually no warranty is offered on a salvage auto.
  • Poor resale value.  If you try to sell the car later, some buyers shy away from salvage vehicles because of the problems listed above.  


Things to know if you are considering buying a salvaged auto :

  • Older cars are generally the best salvage buys.
  • Find out the exact nature of the damage that totaled the car: crash, flood, theft, fire.
  • Each state has its own rules for allowing salvage title back on the road. Check with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles for details.
  • A deal that seems too good to be true probably is. 
  • Have the car inspected by a trusted repair shop BEFORE you buy.
  • Generally you shouldn’t pay more than 60% of the value of a clean title vehicle for a fully functioning salvage vehicle. 
  • Check car’s history, it could have been a lemon before the accident or theft that totaled it out.
  • Get a free Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) check through your insurance agent.
  • Check the Better Business Bureau for complaints about the dealer before buying.
  • Use even more caution, and do extra “due diligence” when using online auto auction sites.
  • Insist that the seller give you receipts for all repair parts at the time of the sale. 
  • If repairs are needed, take pictures 
before and after the repair process.
  • Keep your repair receipts to prove which parts were used during the repair of the vehicle.


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