Buying a Junk Car Tips

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Do some auto-theft rings buy salvage cars to help them sell stolen cars?

Buyer Beware: You Could Be Buying a Salvage Car

Before you buy a car from a classified ad or online auction, be sure to check the vehicle's history with a car identification provider and be sure to check out the seller, too. One stolen car ring began to buy salvage cars in another state and then the moved them over the state line and got a clear title.

Then, they targeted look-alike cars, scanned their Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs) through the windshield and called a locksmith, claiming to be locked out of the car.

They used the titles from the look-alike salvage vehicles to convince the locksmith to let them in the car, then replaced the VIN with the salvaged vehicle's number, placed a classified add in the paper and sold the stolen vehicle. If buyers had checked the VIN number before they bought the car, they would have seen the car came from salvage. So, beware, people who buy salvage cars sometimes have elaborate schemes to sell them as new vehicles. Beware before you buy a car from a private party!

What good is it to buy salvage cars from Japan if they aren't in running order?

Buy Salvage Cars From Japan for Parts

Many American car collectors and junk yards buy salvage cars from Japan to use or sell for parts. These salvage cars are much cheaper, even with shipping, and often you can find great buys for cars that are no longer running, but have many salvageable spare parts.

If you buy salvage cars from Japan, you have two options for shipping and delivery. You can have the entire car shipped from Japan in a container and remove the parts yourself when it arrives or you can have a Japanese company remove the parts and ship them to you. Often, it's cheaper to buy the entire car and have it shipped and remove the parts yourself when it arrives. Whatever you choose, if you buy salvage cars from Japan, you'll save quite a bit of money over comparable American models, if they are available.

Can you buy salvage cars from Japan?

Buy Salvage Cars From Japan

There are plenty of reasons for you to buy salvage cars from Japan. The Japanese trade their cars in a lot sooner than most Americans, so their cars have less wear and tear. Also, they have great roads in Japan, so the cars are in better shape when they are traded. The Japanese are also scrupulous about maintenance, so the cars are usually in better shape than comparable American-driven models.

In addition, most Japanese cars are very low mileage (they don't have that far to drive, it's a small country!) so buying salvage cars is good bargain even when you figure in shipping from Japan. Finally, repair costs are extremely high in Japan, so you may be able to find a bargain that only needs some minor repairs that won't cost that much to repair here in the States. So, buying salvage cars from Japan may be a great auto investment for you or your family!

What do the terms "project," "rebuildable," and "restorable" mean when I buy junk cars?

Look for "Rebuildable Cars" When You Buy Junk Cars

Be careful when you buy junk cars, there are some salvage companies who don't tell the truth about their cars! Many unscrupulous dealers will sell dangerous salvaged cars as drivable and safe, but most salvage dealers will tell their customers when a car cannot be driven and is unsafe. They will sell that car for parts rather than as a drivable vehicle.

Some salvage companies have cars that are especially suited to rebuilding or restoring. When you buy junk cars to restore, deal with companies that offer "project," "rebuildable" or "restorable" cars. These cars aren't roadworthy now, but with some tender loving care and some hard work, they can regain some of their former glory.

How can I buy junk cars with confidence?

Beware if You Buy Junk Cars

Many insurance companies offer "junked" or salvaged autos for sale to the public. These cars have been involved in accidents or disasters, and are usually sold "as is." You should watch out for unscrupulous dealers and companies before you buy junk cars because they could have been involved in a flood and that can ruin any hopes of truly restoring the car.

Usually, a salvage car will cost more to fix than it is worth. If you buy junk cars for specific parts, you may find what you need, but if you buy junk cars to drive or resell, watch out for flood damage, which is often invisible to the naked eye. You can't spot the damage until the electrical system stops working or the transmission gives up. Before you buy junk cars, run them through a vehicle check database to make sure they have not been damaged or flooded.

How can I check to make sure when I buy junk cars that the car has not been damaged by flooding?

Know the Signs of Flood Damage Before You Buy Junk Cars

You can save a lot of money if you buy junk cars or salvage cars, but you should be aware of what to look for in a junk car. Many of these cars have been damaged in floods, and it can be very difficult to see the damage. Here's what to look for:

  • Look underneath the seats, in the glove compartment, trunk and dashboard to see if you can see any signs of water damage, including rust and mud or dirt.
  • Smell the car with the doors and windows closed. Does it smell musty or moldy?
  • Check the upholstery and carpets. If they look stained or faded, they may have been damaged by water and if they don't match the rest of the interior, they could have been replaced to hide the damage.
  • Turn on the ignition and make sure all the warning lights come on and are working. Check the outside lights, too, along with other electrics, like windshield wipers and the cigarette lighter.
  • Always run the car through at least one used vehicle database to make sure the vehicle has not been damaged in some way.
If you follow these steps, you can avoid a lot of problems when you buy junk cars!

Can I buy good salvage cars at auction?

Buy Salvage Cars at Auction

Often, local law enforcement and city and county governments will sell salvage cars at a public auction. You can check with local agencies to buy salvage cars at auction, usually at prices even below wholesale. Sometimes these cars have only minor damage that will not cost too much to be fixed.

Reputable auction houses will let you inspect the car before you make a bid and should note the car is from salvage. When you buy salvage cars at auction, you usually buy them "as is," meaning the auction house is not responsible for any problems or malfunctions with the car. Check out the auction house and the vehicle thoroughly and you could find a real bargain if you buy salvage cars at auction!

Who will buy junk cars in my area?

Who Will Buy Junk Cars?

If you want to sell your junk cars, chances are there are plenty of junk yards who buy junk cars in your area. However, before you call the first ad you see in the yellow pages, think about donating your car to charity instead. The money will help those who need it and you'll be rid of that junker that's been cluttering up your driveway.

Here's how it works. You call a company that specializes in removal of old cars. Normally, they can have your car picked up for free within 48 hours of your call. Your car is towed to a local junkyard, and you receive a tax deduction for the value of your car. All the proceeds from the sale go to a charitable organization the company sponsors. It's quick, easy and painless, so look for a charitable organization that will buy junk cars and feel good about getting rid of that junker today!

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Jerry Mayo