Buying a car from a junkyard seems cheaper but it can effectively be more costly than buying a used car.
Also, buying these cars is risky, and you should be careful when making an offer to a junkyard car seller.
Which Type of Cars You Can Buy at a Junkyard?
A salvage vehicle is officially designated salvage due to several reasons when it is unfit to run on the roads in certain conditions.
Different states in the US have their threshold standards for changing a vehicle title from brand title to salvage title.
Common reasons for a salvage vehicle include:
- Accidental vehicles unrepaired
- Damage due to natural disasters like floods, lightning, hailstorm, etc.
- Theft and stolen vehicles were unrecovered by police and written off by the insurance company.
Other types of accidents like fire, smoke, pole hits, etc.
A salvage vehicle can have minor to major damages depending on the severity. A vehicle is usually sold to a junkyard when its repair cost exceeds its salvage value after fixes.
What to Consider When Buying a Car from a Junkyard?
You cannot run a damaged (salvage) vehicle on the road unless repaired and pass by the relevant authorities.
So, the first thing to look for in a salvage car from a junkyard is its physical fitness cost. Then, there are some other factors that you should be careful about.
Check the Vehicle History Report
Get the vehicle report first to analyze its change of titles in the past. There are different branded title types for a vehicle.
Some common types of vehicle branded titles include junk, dismantled, accidental, stolen, prior police, reconditioned, totaled, warranty returned, etc. police, reconditioned, totaled, warranty returned, etc.
Evaluating a car history report will show you if the car was previously damaged. You’ll then be able to precisely assess the car’s market value.
Buy from a Credible Seller
Buying a car from a junkyard is a risky venture anyway. So, avoid buying a damaged or stolen car from an unauthorized junkyard seller.
Particularly, if a car under consideration is partially damaged, scratched, or repaired, the seller asks for a lower-than-market value.
In many cases, stolen cars are sold as salvage vehicles fraudulently. The same goes for buying a car online from a junkyard. Consider visiting the place and inspecting the car by yourself instead of relying on photos.
Do the Calculations
Most cars go to a junkyard when their repair and maintenance costs exceed their salvage values. It simply means even when these cars are repaired, they’ll be costlier than the same vehicle unrepaired (and undamaged).
So, comparing a car of a similar model and make can give you an idea of what you will spend and what the reward is.
If at all, consider buying a stolen car that the insurance company wrote off.
Consider Your State Laws
State laws vary when it comes to designating a salvage car title. Some states are stricter than others.
It means stricter laws will help you find a better salvage car from a junkyard. As the state laws will enforce partially damaged cars as salvage cars, they’ll require fewer fixes to get on the roads again.
Run a Full Car Inspection
When buying a car from a junkyard, you should conduct a full car inspection. Preferably, you should get a professional like a car mechanic who can assess car condition precisely.
Do not rely on exterior inspection only. Many junkyard cars are ripped off crucial spare parts. Keenly observe the car conditions before considering the bid price.
Once you evaluate the full car conditions, you can then estimate car repairing costs.
Don’t Rely on a Single Seller – Have Back Up Plans
Finally, as you do with any used car purchases, do not rely on a single junkyard car seller.
Consider evaluating different sellers. In particular, when you are viewing online junkyard cars, do not rely on a single seller.
This will give you an idea of junkyard car prices and repairing costs before making an offer to a seller.
Advantages of Buying a Car from the Junkyard
Buying a car from a junkyard offers some benefits to buyers if done properly.
Salvage cars are priced at roughly 20-40% of their original prices. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t buy a car from a junkyard if it is valued at higher than 60% of its original price.
Then, weighing in the repair costs, you can still get a cheap price that you would otherwise for a similar used car.
Some partially damaged cars by road accidents or fire incidents can be repaired cheaply and save you handsome money.
Getting Spare Parts
Many buyers consider buying salvage cars from junkyards to get some spare parts in good condition. Car mechanics and electricians may be particularly interested in cheaply getting a few reusable spare parts.
Finding a Cheap Car
Sometimes you may get a cheap deal when buying a car from a junkyard. For instance, if you get a stolen car that was written off by the insurance company and sold to a junkyard.
These cars can be purchased legally and their title can be changed again. So, you might get lucky when looking at junkyard car options.
However, you must be careful and look at the car history report before paying cash for a stolen car or partially damaged car.
Disadvantages and Risks of Buying a Car from the Junkyard
Buying a car from a junkyard is risky and comes with certain disadvantages.
Reselling is Hard
First of all, reselling a salvaged car is particularly difficult. You’ll never get a good resale value of the salvaged car as it will have several changes of title.
One of the main reasons for that is buyers are suspicious of salvaged cars and there is very little demand for these cars in the used car market.
Therefore, consider this fact when buying a salvaged car from a junkyard rather than when you plan to sell it.
Repair Costs Can Be High
If you want to use the car bought from a junkyard, you’ll have to spend handsome money to make it run again.
You can consider this option if you do not a second or third vehicle that is rarely used but is useful to you. However, buying it as a fully repaired vehicle will be costly.
Difficult Financing a Salvage Car
Another drawback of these cars is finding a financing option. Lenders do not offer loans for buying damaged cars from junkyards easily.
If it all, you’ll get a very expensive car loan for these cars.
Risk of Fraud
Often, cars sold at junkyards are stolen. You might get hacked for fraud if you do not thoroughly verify the car report history.
Insurance Can Be Expensive
Finally, you’ll need car insurance anyway when getting it passed from the authorities and changing the title.
Insurance plans for salvaged cars can be costly as compared to normal used cars.