The answer to that question will depend on a number of questions to ask before you buy. Buying a salvage car goes against most advice. Why? Because they don't stop to consider the fact that you can buy a salvage title vehicle and repair it, if repair right it will last as long and any no-wrecked vehicle. There are conditions when a salvage vehicle will make sense. The only time you should be cautious is if the car has been repaired and then being resold, did the rebuilder do a good job. When buying a salvage vehicle it is very important to check the title status. If it has a salvage title you can repair it and go on to replace the salvage title to a repaired title and then register it with your DMV, but if you buy a salvage vehicle with a junk title, that is what you have JUNK it can't be titled again and put back on the road. This can vary from state to state so the best advice it to check with your DMV.
If you are willing to take measured risks you can save a bundle of cash buying a repairable salvage vehicle.
Can I repair it myself? Or a have a friend that can help?
This must be answered first, if you have mechanical ability you are at a good start.
If I can repair it myself, do I have the time? As with all projects it takes time if you want it done right. The time involved will depend on the extent of the damage. I suggest starting with a minor fender bender and working up from there.
The picture of the vehicle at left is of a 2003 Pontiac Grand Am that I bought-- Sanders Auto--later on in this blog I will take you step by step in the rebuilding of this car.
There are risks in buying a salvage vehicle, but if you do your research that risk can be limited and you see a big saving in the purchase of your next car.
There are two types of vehicles never to consider when purchasing a salvage vehicle, never purchase a water damage vehicle or uni frame damage vehicle. Water damage can be devastating to a vehicle, the electrical parts will begin to corrode after a few months, wheel bearing rust, engine and transmission components will have severe damage, not to mention problems from mold. Uniframe damage not to be confused with frame damage. Uniframe is the way most cars or SUV's are built. Pickup trucks and some SUV's have a actual frame which can be repaired or changed out if need be. The uni frame vehicle can best be described as being built on a platform, if damaged the damage must be cut out and a new piece of the structure welded in. This can be done, but it is very time-consuming and if not done right will cause major problems that can never be fixed and the vehicle may never be road worthy.
Salvage vehicles to consider: The first project you need to stay with is a minor fender bender, by that I mean, changing out fenders, bumper covers, grilles, hoods etc. These vehicles will be the easyest to repair, after some experience you can go on to changing radiators, radiator cord supports. When getting into the radiator the vehicle will a lot of times be moving fasting enough at this point to deploy the airbags, but those are easy to replace and I will explain that later and how to make sure that if the vehicle were to ever get into another accident the airbags will deploy once again.
Theft vehicles are another vehicle to consider. Most states if a vehicle is stolen then recovered it will be classified as a total loss and therefore a salvage title will be issued. A lot of times there is nothing wrong with the vehicle and the don't generally have any major damage, there may be cosmetic problems with are easy to fix, paint damage ect.
Repossessed vehicle can also proved to be a good buy, there is a higher risk so be carefull when considering these. You need to look it over good it may also be a good idea to have a mechanic look it over, most of these vehicle are sold at auction, but watch around banks and loan offices, if found there you may be able to test drive them where as if sold at auction they will be sold "AS IS" and can not be test drove.
Late model cars will be more expensive to repair, but you can normally get all the parts to repair them. Older model vehicles will be cheaper to repair, because there will be plenty of used parts or aftermarket parts. Look for a older model vehicle with low mileage.
Last know what the vehicle is worth if it was not salvage. Check local car lots, check vehicles for sale by owner, see what the vehicle you are considering is selling for if it has never been damaged. The worst thing you can do is buy a salvage vehicle then when you have it all repaired you find out you could have bought it for less at your local car dealer. Know what the vehicle sells for then substract parts and labor to determine a price you would be willing to pay. Keep in mind that labor is where your saving is going to be as you are the one that will be putting in the labor. If your time is worth $70 to $100 an hour then forget about buying a salvage vehicle you will be better off buying a nonsalvage vehicle and in your spare time go fishing, not repairing vehicles.