Trolling through the used car listings, you come across the deal of the century: your perfect car, with all of the options you want, for thousands less than you've been able to find it anywhere else. It's the perfect car, or so it seems.
As you scroll through the photos everything looks in order, with a beautiful interior, nice shiny paint, perfectly straight body panels. But in the description, it says the vehicle has a "salvage title" and that the damage was "purely cosmetic" and was all fixed properly by a reputable shop.
That salvage title car may save you thousands up front, but it could be a total waste of money too. We made a list of five reasons you should view every salvage title car as covered with caution tape.
Most salvage title cars on the used market earned that distinction because something bad happened to them (storm damage, accident, flood, etc.) that caused an insurance company to declare them worth less than the cost of repair, which means it was "totaled". Most of the bad things that can happen to a car to total it can also result in long-term issues that you won't want to deal with as an owner: frame damage, crooked structural elements, rust, electrical gremlins, compromised crash safety features, and more. Some cars with clean titles may have similar histories, too, so be sure to get your car inspected by a trusted mechanic.
automotive freelance journalist