Not everyone can afford new cars that are fresh off the factory line. But even used cars are becoming harder to afford for many people. In 2018, used car prices hit a 13-year high of $19,657.
If you don’t have that kind of money and don’t really want to make payments on a used car for the next five years, don’t panic.
In some situations, looking for a salvage car can lead to you getting a great deal. Here are some cases where you should pull the trigger on that car with a salvage title.
The damage wasn’t too great
A salvage car means the insurance company has decided to wash its hands of this car. Basically, they don’t want to deal with it anymore, so they’re declaring it a total loss.
Contrary to popular belief, a car doesn’t have to fall into an active volcano for that to happen. Some cars are salvaged even if the damage is not that bad.
For instance, a car that was stolen might be declared salvage. The same is true of a car that got some hail damage but still runs fine. An insurance company may also slap the salvage title on a car as part of a settlement.
If someone is hurt in a car accident, the insurance company’s lawyers may decide it’s easier to pay the person for the price of the total car than it is to keep fighting them in court.
There are salvage cars for sale that have been either fully restored or were never that bad to begin with. It’s up to you to find those diamonds in the rough.
Of course, everyone else is looking for those as well — everyone wants the car that received hail damage. Not nearly as many people want a sedan that got pancaked by an 18-wheeler at an intersection.
Pay attention to who restored the car as well. If the work was done by a reputable team of mechanics, that’s ideal.
But you don’t want to buy a car that was “restored” by a guy with a lot of free time but no real advanced knowledge of how, exactly, to take a salvaged car and make it both drivable and safe.
You don’t expect it to last a long time
You have to go into the salvage car lot with realistic expectations. A salvaged car will probably not last for the next 10 years. It won’t be the type of car you can hand down to your kids when they start driving.
However, buying a salvaged car for a teenager’s first car might not be a bad idea. Just don’t expect your car to last as long as one that’s never been declared a total loss.
This doesn’t mean you can’t get some good use out of your car, though. In 2017, the average age of a vehicle on the road was almost 12 years.
In general, modern cars are better made, and that allows people to keep driving them for longer.
In other words, you can still do things like take road trips in a salvaged car. If you’re a big Michigan State University fan who lives in the Upper Peninsula, you shouldn’t have to worry about renting a car the next time you attend a Lansing sporting event.
Maintenance is important for every car. It might be even more important if you buy a car with a salvaged title. So do things like get the oil changed regularly.
And if the check engine light goes off, by all means, drive to a mechanic and check the engine. Getting a good deal is nice, but you can’t get truly get your money’s worth unless you take care of the car after the purchase is complete.