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Old 01-25-2015, 01:34 AM   #1
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Buying salvage cars for parts

Anyone on this forum have any experience buying salvage cars? There seems to be a couple of websites that allow you to bid on salvage cars (all makes and models) but i don't have any experience in which sites are good vs. not good. My interest is really just to dabble and not looking to get to heavily involved by any means. Any info or insight would be appreciated.

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Old 01-25-2015, 03:07 AM   #2
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Copart has kind of a wonky system. You must bid through a broker, which will cost you addl money if you win. I only tried it once and didn't win. It was many yrs ago and I think there was a fee for the broker to even bid. Felt it was just a way to make the middle men rich.

The car I was bidding on was lightly damaged - cpl of dents in the roof, some broken windows, etc. But bidding went way past what you'd pay to get it back into shape vs what it would be worth having a salvage title. I didn't see any profit it. I was planning to keep it as my 2nd Porsche but it was going to cost me what I could have bought a used one for.

Be careful just bidding from pics. There can be lots of hidden damage that can quickly add up. And the folks shooting the pics know how to present the cars in the best possible way - such as knocking the creases out of the bumper cover, hiding all the damage behind it. There are middle men who will view the car and give you a report on it prior to the auction, but that costs $$$ so you need to be sure it's a car you're interested in or you'll be running up lots of fees w/o buying. Once again, the middle men get rich.

Other sites may be different, this is just my limited experience with one of them. I still like to go out to Copart for fun and see what's there.
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Old 01-25-2015, 03:15 AM   #3
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Thanks Husker. Copart was the site I saw. I live in a state where I can go and inspect the cars from about three states if need be but mostly interested in staying in my state. There seems to be a fee to "join" the site to bid and a $250 fee per car or 5% which ever is higher. For what the cars I've been looking at are selling for this is not a huge deal. Again my interest is strictly for personal fun. I can't see striping parts off and selling. Although I probably could make some money my intention is not the money making side.
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Old 01-25-2015, 03:19 AM   #4
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Personally I wouldn't want to mess with it whether you're parting them out or fixing them for resale. It would still be a lot of work.
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Old 01-25-2015, 03:22 AM   #5
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Here are some pics of what I was bidding on.





This was in ~2010. It was a 2006 w/ 13K mi - it was a high option car. Back then 06s were $35K. This one went for $21K and still needed to be transported from NY to NE and fixed.
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Old 01-25-2015, 03:32 AM   #6
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Thanks Husker. Copart was the site I saw. I live in a state where I can go and inspect the cars from about three states if need be but mostly interested in staying in my state. There seems to be a fee to "join" the site to bid and a $250 fee per car or 5% which ever is higher. For what the cars I've been looking at are selling for this is not a huge deal. Again my interest is strictly for personal fun. I can't see striping parts off and selling. Although I probably could make some money my intention is not the money making side.
If you have the ability to view them yourself, that would make bidding a whole lot safer and cheaper. Here in fly-over territory, the closest Copart auctions are 725 mi away in Dallas.

And KRAM - rebuilding cars can get in your blood. When I was a teen, my dad and I did it as a hobby. It stays with you.
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Old 01-25-2015, 06:13 AM   #7
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For my own entertainment, I have bought a few cars through Copart. I have almost bought with IAA a few times.

I know Hondas pretty well and started out with an Accord 4-door that had a timing belt break. I picked up a used engine and dropped it in over a weekend. It turned out to be a good car. I ended up selling to a it co-worker for enough that it covered my actual cost, but wouldn't have covered my time if I counted it as 'labor'.

My 'water damaged' Boxster winning bid was about $2,200. Fees and about 300 miles transport put it well over $3k. Leather seats were pretty much trash. All of the electronics were good except for the immobilizer box. I hit eBay for an immobilizer+key+DME from the same year & model. New Battery.
Thinking everything is good, I insert the key and turn, being careful to keep my head away from the airbag. It actually started! ...and sounded terrible as it pumped more smoke out the back end than I have ever seen come out of a car. The engine was trash.



I bought a front end collision damaged Boxster for about the same deal and put that engine in.



The 'water damaged' car is pretty much my DD now. It still smells a bit musty on a rainy day, so I will probably replace the carpet.
For less than I paid to get my salvaged '01 on the road, I could have easily found a non-salvage car in need of some TLC. I do enjoy having the collision damaged car behind my garage as a parts source though.
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Old 01-25-2015, 06:21 AM   #8
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Thanks for the responses, keep them coming. I've done some other research on copart and I wouldn't say they have a great rep BUT as we all know only the really bad and really good responses ever hit the internet. I have to research more the specific location in my state and see what their deal is. All I really want one for is to possibly upgrade my wheels and have a spare enginer/trans if mine ever goes. I've seen some 01's selling for $500-$1000 so I did the math and it made sense. I don't need any other these parts but figured it might be fun. Also, I'd love to be able to put the engine on a stand and tinker with it. Again, all this for fun and not a financial decision.
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Old 01-25-2015, 09:13 AM   #9
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I like your idea and have had several salvage fixers but...
I have first hand experience with CoPart. There are so many ways you can get screwed regardless of your due diligence ,it is an incalculable risk. You will never outwit the scams,schemes,thefts after you buy ,missing parts etc.
I suggest you buy a salvage car privately. Then you have more chance of really knowing what you are buying.
Lots of people have grossly uninformed opinions on this subject but seldom much experience nor knowledge. They think salvage cars are dangerous, Here is something to ponder - how much damage value does it take to declare a 10-15 year old Boxster "salvage" ? Answer- Porsche parts prices are so high that minor panel will exceed the cars Blue Book value.
I bought a salvage Boxster privately for less than 2/3 of BB .It had only cosmetic damage but the Insurance Co just used Porsche parts prices and labor to determine the outcome.The owner took lots of photos of the 'damage', removed the offending parts with more photos and had it fixed. Everybody was happy. Seldom the case with Copart ! Beware.
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Old 01-25-2015, 10:08 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by husker boxster View Post
And KRAM - rebuilding cars can get in your blood. When I was a teen, my dad and I did it as a hobby. It stays with you.
I did a lot of mechanical work when I was younger and had the time, but hated the grime soaked fingernails, chics don't dig them either.

I also based what I said because my day is full with just my job. Some times I don't get home til 9 to 10pm and I start at 9am.

The OP may have the time on his hands to do so.
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Old 01-25-2015, 10:08 AM   #11
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One thing to keep in mind that alot of the cars on Copart require a dealers license to buy if you win. You can run a filter that will list the cars the do not require a dealers license. Your other option to have access to all the cars is to use another middle man such as salvageautoauction who bid on your behalf with thier dealers license but with more fees. Another thing to realize is alot of people buying these arent looking at the value of the car rebuilt but the value of the usable parts. A working 3.2L engine goes for $3500 on ebay and a 3.4L goes for $7500 to $10,000 or more. Then every little part on that can is worth money if its functional. A car that you may see as only being worth $3k in its current state may have $10k in useable parts. So thats what drives the price. I read an interesting article on how to get a 500 horsepower Chevy LS engine for free by buying a salvage, pulling the engine and selling the remaining parts.
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Old 01-25-2015, 01:44 PM   #12
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I did a lot of mechanical work when I was younger and had the time, but hated the grime soaked fingernails, chics don't dig them either.
My dad was good at both mechanical and body work. He said to me once that he preferred body work over mechanical work because he didn't get his hands as dirty. As a teenager, I didn't care but I understand what he meant now that I'm older.
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Old 01-25-2015, 02:16 PM   #13
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I'm not sure I can add much that hasn't already been said.
It's gambling buying from either Copart or IAA. If you know what you're doing you make some good $$, but sometimes you're just dealt a bad hand. There's ways to get your feet wet without spending too much cash but you'll find your best deals on craigslist (when you can find them).
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Old 01-26-2015, 04:03 AM   #14
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I think for now I'm going to let this stay idle. I would only buy from the copart in CT and would go up with a trailer (either rent or borrow) and cash. Pretty sure I can borrow a license from at least a couple people I am friendly with. Anyway, there is no pressure on my end and I don't need the car so for now I'm going to take a relaxed position.
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