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would you buy a salvage RL?

4887 Views 20 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  cdn
Hi all.
I am thinking of selling my 2009 RL and looking for a newer one.

It was written off a couple of years ago. Front passenger side damage.
I have full maintenance records and have changed the tranny and dif fluids as recommended as well as the timing belt.

It has 60,000 miles on it and I was wondering if I could get you opinion on a couple of things:

1. would you ever buy an RL with salvage status?
2. If so, what kind of discount would you expect vs a similar car that is not salvage status?

Thanks and respectfully appreciate your comments.
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I would never buy one because it's too much trouble to register and insure. This after you get over the huge leap of faith to even consider it.
If you just need a beater for commuting, sure, why not if it is cheap.

Buying used is a risk anyway, but shop wisely for vehicles that are not salvaged and come with a good set of maintenance records. You will pay more but can have some confidence you will get down the road with fewer issues.
You are dealing with unknowns in either case, but the fewer the better.

With the salvaged the value is already low and when you go to trade or sell again you will lose again.
You could luck out, it's all a game of chance but the kind of problems that can creep up on a salvaged vehicle can be difficult to diagnose especially if they are electrical and there was a history of water damage.
I think it would depend on the extent of the damage. It doesn't take much to TOTAL a car these days. If the work was done by a good body shop and all the measurements are on spec, I wouldn't be opposed to saving a bunch of cash if I was in the market.
That being said, it would still have to be a hell of an attractive price.
What are you looking to get out of it?
OEM vs non OEM parts would play into the equation too.
I think it would depend on the extent of the damage. It doesn't take much to TOTAL a car these days. If the work was done by a good body shop and all the measurements are on spec, I wouldn't be opposed to saving a bunch of cash if I was in the market.
That being said, it would still have to be a hell of an attractive price.
What are you looking to get out of it?
OEM vs non OEM parts would play into the equation too.
The body work looks good and there was no frame damage. I was going to ask around $13,000

PS. Really want to thank you for the quick replies!
At max, I wouldn't offer but HALF of what one books for. Maybe this vehicle is a candidate for those places that take in your vehicle and give you a tax write off.
Since it is your Vehicle that is going to be offered for sale, maybe you should tell us why it was "totaled"

Maybe it is one someone here would want...
I've had a couple salvage vehicles. I knew what happened to them got them for much lower price and had no problem with resale or issues down the line. Yes i sold cheaper cause I bought it cheaper. The last one was a Pontiac G6, drove it for 4 years and sold it the first day what I was asking for. Got it cheap but sold it for a bit less then anything out their that wasnt a salvage in the same trim package. Didnt have to register or do any special insure thing on them like someone said. Their are thousands of salvaged cars out their. Just know what it went thru before purchase and stay away from flood cars for sure.
In PA you have to jump through a few hoops.

Registering and Titling
To register a vehicle with a salvage title, you'll need to show proof that it was satisfactorily repaired and then apply for a rebuilt-salvage title.

Submit an Application for Certificate of Title (Form MV-1), unless the Pennsylvania Certificate of Salvage is already in the name of the applicant. This form cannot be downloaded, but you can pick one up at any Driver License Center location.
Submit either form MV-5 (it, also, cannot be downloaded) or an out-of-state certificate of salvage.
Submit an Application for Reconstructed, Specially Constructed, Collectible, Modified, Flood, Recovered Theft Vehicles and Street Rods (Form MV-426B).
Detailed instructions are included in the file.
Attach color photos of the vehicle (front, back, and both sides).
Attach a bill of sale or receipts for parts used to fix the vehicle. You can download, if needed, a generic bill of sale.
Include a completed Application for Correction of Vehicle Record or Verification of Vehicle Identification Number (Form MV-41) to apply for a vehicle identification number plate (only if one is needed).
Enclose all applicable fees ($50 for a title and $36 for registration).
The vehicle will need to be inspected by a PennDOT-approved station, and the inspector will need to sign the application form (so bring along all your paperwork). Among other things, the inspector will check to make sure that the car and its parts were not stolen.

Submit your documents to the address specified on the application forms.
Similar in CA...

What Is a Revived Salvage Vehicle?

A revived salvage vehicle is a vehicle that has been reported to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) by the owner or insurance company as a total loss and now has been restored to operational condition. (For information on revived junked vehicles, see the How To: Reregister a Junk Vehicle (HTVR 4) brochure.)

What Do I Need to Reregister a Salvage Vehicle?

An Application for Title or Registration (REG 343) form (PDF) signed by all listed owners.
- The vehicle cost must include the labor cost, even if the labor was done by you.
Proof of ownership. This may be one of the following:
- A Salvage Certificate in your name or endorsed for transfer to your name. If the Salvage Certificate is missing, the insurance company or person who applied for the original must complete an Application for Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate (REG 488C) form (PDF) and a Statement of Facts (REG 256) form (PDF) describing the vehicle and disposition of the original Salvage Certificate.
- The Certificate of Title or an Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (REG 227) form in your name or endorsed for transfer into your name and a REG 488C.
- You may also need a Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262), bill of sale, odometer disclosure, or power of attorney, as necessary, to complete the chain of ownership.
A vehicle inspection by the California DMV or California Highway Patrol (CHP).
- CHP conducts inspections by appointment only at one of the telephone numbers listed at the end of this brochure.
- You must bring the bill(s) of sale for parts and proof of ownership to the CHP inspection appointment.
- A nonrefundable inspection fee will be collected by DMV at the time the registration application is presented.
- Vehicles manufactured with a supplemental restraint system (air bags) need to be equipped with working air bags that meet applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards and conform to the manufacturer's specifications.
California brake and light inspection certificates. Certificates are not required for trailers weighing 3,000 pounds or less gross vehicle weight. For a listing of California state-licensed brake and light inspection stations, check your local telephone directory or the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) website at
EXCEPTION: When a California state-licensed brake and light inspection station that inspects specific vehicles, such as motorcycles or large commercial vehicles, is not located within a reasonable distance, the California DMV will accept a Statement of Facts (REG 256) form from a California state-licensed repair shop certifying that the brakes and lights are in proper working order.

A California public weigh master's certificate of the vehicle's empty, unladen, scale, or tare weight for trucks and pickups. For a list of public scales, check your local telephone directory or with the California Department of Food and Agriculture website at
A weight certificate is not required for:
- Trucks or pickups previously registered in California when the prior California Certificate of Title or registration shows the empty or unladen weight and the number of axles, and the vehicle has not been modified to change the weight.
- Trucks or pickups with an empty or unladen weight of 6,000 pounds or less when the empty, unladen, scale, shipping, or tare weight is indicated on an out-of-state title or registration, and the vehicle has not been modified to change the weight.
- Two-axle or three-axle trucks weighing 10,001 pounds or more; the estimated weight is required.
- Autos (unless registered as commercial vehicles), trailers, and motorcycles.
NOTE: A Declaration of Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)/Combined Gross Vehicle Weight (CGW) (REG 4008) form is required for commercial vehicles weighing 6,001 pounds or more, except pickups.

Smog certification from a California state-licensed smog inspection station, unless your vehicle is:
- Diesel-powered and manufactured prior to 1998 with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of more than 14,000 pounds.
- Electric.
- Natural gas-powered with a GVWR of more than 14,000 pounds.
- A hybrid.
- A motorcycle.
- A trailer.
- A 1975 year model or older.
- Already titled in your name and does not require a smog certification for renewal of registration.
NOTE: A California Certificate of Title will not be issued if you do not obtain the required certification(s) and reregister your vehicle before moving it out of California. California does not recognize out-of-state salvage vehicle inspection certifications.

Fees. The types of fees that may be collected are:
- Registration fee
- CHP fee
- Vehicle license fee
- Weight fee
- Commercial Vehicle Registration Act (CVRA) motor vehicle fee
- County fees
- Cargo theft interdiction program (CTIP) fee
- Permanent Trailer Identification (PTI) service fee (most trailers)
- Salvage certificate fee
- Duplicate title fee
- Penalty fee (if the registration has expired and the vehicle was not placed on planned nonoperational status)
Transfer fee(s) (not due if the vehicle was already titled in your name)
Substitute license plate fee
- Salvage and dismantled vehicle inspection fee
- Prior history fee
- Nonresident fee (if the vehicle was last registered out of state)
NOTE: For registration fees, see the Registration Related Fees Fast Facts (FFVR 34) brochure. Because fees are subject to change, visit the DMV website at for the most current information.
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Personally... no, I'd never get a salvaged vehicle. My sister has owned two and my dad bought one and tye were awful. Doors didn't close right, didn't drive straight, always had problems, things wore out funny... I'd stay away.

It's probably either a crash or a flood and neither is something I'd get into.

If you go for it anyway I'll reiterate something said earlier in this thread: a salvaged vehicle is only worth about half of book value. It's crazy how much people ask for salvaged vehicles on CL.
Well I have only purchased a salvaged vehicle thru one that fixes them. This is all they do and when done look and drive as good as new. They take care of all the other things. Its no different then buying a new or used car. Warranties can be from 30 days to a year. Never ran into any issues even after taking one to a dealership for a recall problem.
New England and others . . .Reread the first post here! The OP is asking about SELLING his own vehicle that had passenger side crash damage.
:act014: Yeah, we got carried away......
Thank you all for your input.

Seems to be split opinion about whether or not you would buy the rebuilt. I agree that the reason for the salvage title is important. I would never buy one that was flooded or had frame damage. Mine has neither and it's gone through the rigorous safety and inspection processes.

And my expected sale price should be around half of book value. It's the RT-L model, so I need to rethink my position as I was hoping to get 75% of what other non-salvage vehicles go for. Might just keep it.
If I had one I would run it until the wheels fell off. Then I would take what I could get. 200k minimum unless it started costing me a fortune. I think whoever you sell it to is going to question everything for the next 3 years. So if the radiator, trans or engine by chance fail you'll get a knock on the door.
OP, where are you located? Your Ridge is something I might be interested in. I am in the Minneapolis, MN area.
I have and am looking for another one. My 2006 was totaled but in PA, but the process is easy at an enhanced inspection station. May I ask where are you located and what model do you have?
Really depends on the vehicle and how it was "totaled" or why it has a salvage title. As mentioned above, it doesn't take much for a vehicle to be totaled these days...I mean even a minor fender-bender can cost $1000's to repair.

I would only buy a totaled vehicle if the damage was panels or replaceable/repairable engine components, no frame damage, and it was repaired by a professional shop. It would have to be back to manufacturer specs and all the panels would have to align perfectly. I would want some sort of guarantee too...for at least 6 order to shake out all the bugs and have time to figure out if there is anything wrong that was not obvoius after the repairs were completed. If no warranty is offered, that would definitely affect the amount I would offer on the vehicle.

Also, if the airbags deployed, I would want a written guarantee they were replaced by folks who specialize in that type of repair, and are deemed fully functional.

Buying a used vehicle can be a crap shoot (ask me...I just had to put a new engine in a used vehicle I bought last year) as it is and adding a salvaged title is just another wrinkle added to the whole deal. I would expect the sale price of a salvaged vehicle to be a least %40 less than a comparable vehicle with a clean title.
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used vehicles can be a pain in the arse as it is, a salvage vehicle is just asking for even more trouble.
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