Tips for Buying a Salvage Auto
Man looking in window of car for sale

You can get a deal when buying a salvage car, but you can also end up with a lemon -- be sure you know what you're getting into.


A car is considered totaled when the cost of repairs is greater than the car's worth. These totaled cars get a salvage title. Think about that for a second. In order for a car to be termed "salvage," the cost of repairs has to outweigh the car's value. So when all is said and done, don't expect to get a perfect car for 40 percent off the price. The numbers just don't add up.

However, a buyer's fear of the dreaded salvage title means that the price of a salvaged car might, in fact, drop below what it's really worth. Think of it as sweat equity -- you put in the work and worry of finding, troubleshooting, insuring and likely fixing a salvage auto, and you've paid for the work in the form of savings on the sticker price of a regular car.

It's a teeter-totter, with your time, money and effort on one side and the car on the other. Which way does the teeter-totter tip? If the car's value outweighs all the stuff you have to put into it, it's a good deal in the long run; however, if the headache, cost and time outweigh the car, it's a bad deal.

Here are 10 tips that may help tilt the teeter-totter in favor of a purchase.