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Wrecked, but repaired cars

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We've had great success with saving money on wrecked cars. If you're careful you can get a great deal.  My advice is to go straight to the salvage auction yourself and bid on a very lightly wrecked vehicle that you can look at with your own eyes and see the exact extent of the damage.  Amazing what they will "total" a car for these days.  You can sometimes find a car several years old with very little damage and moderate mileage.  Surpisingly, some very lightly rolled cars sometimes have very repairable damage. Other times you may find one with some hood dents and headlamp smashed or other completely cosmetic damage. If you get to know somebody who does reasonable body-work, this can be repaired fairly cheaply.  Look for shade-tree mechanics in the country who need work. Go to a body shop in the city and you're into some $$$.  If you need a part like a side panel, window or whatnot, call around to local scrapyards.  You can often find your part cheaply and deliver it yourself to your mechanic.  

We have followed this strategy for years and have never paid much for some very nice looking autos.  Also, we have had little mechanical trouble, as we hand pick them.  We have even sold a few at profit, always disclosing fully the original damage and even giving the new owners photos we took prior to repair.  

I know a few folks get bad deals through nasty people selling lemons, but I feel this problem is inflated to scare people off cars suffering even the slightest damage.  A tactic to sell more new cars or auto history services?  Who knows?

Good luck,


I wish I knew about this earlier! We bought a 93 Mercury topaz from a private owner last year and it turns out we're at least the car's 3rd owner! The previous owner crashed it and replaced both bumpers, including complete paint job, so you couldn't even tell. But we eventually found out more--he had bought the car used from ANOTHER owner, and the driver-side door was replaced after an accident some time ago. Because the door was either replaced shoddily or isn't compatible with the car's electric system, the automatic seatbelt on that side often malfunctions, plus the "power" mirrors are inoperable. Many things have gone wrong with this car that the previous owner either lied about (claimed it had new brakes but the brakes completely failed a month later, $500 replacement) or didn't mention to us. The car's a total piece of crap but we don't have the money to buy a new one, as we always keep running into unexpected and costly repair issues. Argh!

I didn't mean to imply that all wrecked cars were dangerous just that it might depend on the damaged that was done to the vehicle.  Lots of vehicles are in wrecks, some very minor and some not so minor.  I think all buyers should know about all repair work and other damage.  That way they can make an informed decision.  What's the program car thing you mentioned?  

Hmmm. Well, my hubby drove one for 7 years (a wrecked, but repaired truck) and thought it was the best vehicle he ever had. My co-worker drives a wrecked/repaired vehicle (rear end damaged) and says she's had no problem.  Maybe I should just look at some program cars.

Would you want to buy a car that was wrecked then 'repaired'?  If not you have answered your question.  As for the safety of the vehicle, you never know what hairline fratures occured during a wreck.  I think you should tell the buyer about the repair but I have known dealerships to sell the damaged vehicles that they repaired.  Heck they sell cars that were in floods back east, out west without telling the buyer.   People ask about vehicles that have been in wrecks because of potential problems that a normal vehicle won't generally have wrong.  I hope he is truthful and tells buyers that ask (at least) about the repairs.      


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