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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Just curious if buying a used Element that got side-swiped and has been rebuilt, inspected and licensed with the title having this listed on it "Salvage - Non-Removable" would be worth the gamble for the price savings? Thinking about buying one for my teenage son - as there are a few available. Not major damage to any of them, but enough they were sold as salvage, rebuilt by a professional and are for sale.

I checked with both DMV's involved (location of the salvage rebuilt cars and my state of residence). Both said the car can be licensed as is, just that one state calls it "salvage non-removable" and the other state calls is "prior salvage, rebuilt".

Any thoughts. Again, teenage local driving for the most part (to and from school and school events). Not being purchased as a "I hope this is as good as a brand new Element" type of euphoria.

TIA
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
hello leadfoot...if the car is a salvage,,then it had enough damage on it that the insurance company made it a total loss rather then fix it,,,to me that means the structure of the car was compromised....i would never buy that car. i have a son and would not feel safe as a parent with him in the car ..thats just my opinion...good luck with your decision
Understood - and believe me, I am contemplating all of that. One has to figure that if it was enough the insurance company made it a total loss, something must have happened to the car besides superficial exterior body damage.

Here is an example of one of the sideswipe Elements that comes up. Pictures are from start to finish of the sideswipe, the body repair and the finished product. I wonder how much structural damage was compromised in this particular vehicle. It doesn't look too bad...







http://m46.photobucket.com/albums/mcathcart/Honda Element/?src=www









Finished product after the body work...





But, again, this is one of the ones I was looking at that ended up being a salvage vehicle before it was rebuilt. The guy who fixed it has driven it for 20K after he fixed it without any problems.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I drove a salvaged Tacoma for 5 years on a daily basis. The salvage 'brand' is nothing more than a financial decision by the insurance company. If you can make it operable for the right price it works. Just remember selling it will be tough. Did I mention I work in insurance?
I understand selling it would be tough. This would be a vehicle for my son to use for his senior year in high school and then in college (nice college set of wheels to haul stuff around).

Anything I am missing in viewing the pictures that you guys see? I'm not sure how that chunk was knocked out on the rear bumper, but it has also been fixed. Perhaps one red flag is that the owner recently put 2 new tires on the car (not 4, just 2). Maybe the frame alignment is off causing tire wear or maybe he just rotated the front tires to the rear and put 2 new ones up front.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If the body is not aligned with the frame to a degree it is unnoticeable, it would pass my test. If it is bad enough to notice from below, there may be an issue. But this car does not look to bad. keep in mind I cannot see anything mechanical.

The bondo is no issue. He changed the front fender. The doors are fine as displayed. There may be some distortion in the paint but this is no collectors item so it doesn't matter.

What is the price tag on it?

Also, was the accident described to you?
All he says is that it was side swiped by another vehicle. He bought the vehicle wrecked from the insurance company and fixed it. Side air bags did not deploy as the "hit" I guess wasn't that violent. Right side doors now close exactly like they did before the accident. No error codes after the accident with regard to the airbags (and none now either).

Price tag would be negotiated, but I obviously would not pay as much as one that had not been wrecked and rebuilt.:grin:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Two things:

Run the Carfax (cheap)

Ask if you can have alignment checked. If he balks, you walk. Have the rear checked as well.

This is peace of mind for $100

If it was a side swipe, then you should be in good shape. The Carfax should have a description of the accident.

**One thing bothers me. If the Ins Co uses a method of 75% damage, Let's say the value was 10K. Where is the 7500 of damage at? Def have the alignment checked. If it ran for 20k miles after the accident that is where the pain would be. However, every adjuster and customer is different. I have seen them totaled when they should not and visa versa.
He checked the alignment and nothing had to be pulled. I guess that's good news...

"Nothing had to be pulled. I always have the alignment checked on anything I repair."
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
If he is honest that is good news. As a good American, I find it hard to trust anyone selling me a car. The more trustworthy they seem the more I doubt them. I am a strong believer in empirical evidence.
I'll run the Carfax report. If I decided to purchase, it sounds worth the money to take it to a frame shop to have them check it out and offer advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
I'll run the Carfax report. If I decided to purchase, it sounds worth the money to take it to a frame shop to have them check it out and offer advice.
Carfax report says:

Original owner....

Damage Report Accident reported
Involving front impact
It hit an embankment
Extensive damage reported
Vehicle towed

Salvage Title issued and the Element was sold to the 2nd owner who did the repair work and has been driving it for the past 16 months.

Carfax also states the history impact should deduct $1660 from the retail book value. That seems to be a small deduction for a car that was totaled by the insurance company and rebuilt. Hmmmm......

Everything else follows the history of what the current owner told me. Car wrecked in 2008, declared a loss by the insurance company. Sold at auction with the issued salvage title where he bought it and took it home to repair it himself. He's been driving it ever since and is now selling the vehicle. The word salvage must remain on the title.

Any thoughts on all of that? The pictures I posted don't seem to jive with my vision of a front impact and I guess the sideswipe was the embankment - or perhaps the embankment was hit following the sideswipe. Carfax doesn't mention sideswipe. And I guess the front wheel area would qualify as "front impact".
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
leadfoot...something is wrong...that dont look like no front impact....be very carefull my friend,,,and remember its going to be a nighmare for you to try to sell this car down the road....how many miles are on the car??
97K

Purpose is not to sell the car, but drive it into the ground (provided it is not already into the ground due to the wreck it had in 2008).:lol:

Based on your comments of something looking wrong, I guess it could be that this car was in some sort of a front impact as the Carfax report shows leading to the total loss back in 2008. The 2nd owner may have purchased it from the insurance company auction, rebuilt it and the sideswipe pictures we see may have been a 2nd accident that was not reported, but simply rebuilt by himself leading to the scenario of doubt (I'm just guessing here as fish does smell from quite a distance).

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Discussion Starter · #23 · (Edited)
"Any thoughts on all of that? The pictures I posted don't seem to jive with my vision of a front impact and I guess the sideswipe was the embankment - or perhaps the embankment was hit following the sideswipe. Carfax doesn't mention sideswipe. And I guess the front wheel area would qualify as "front impact".

It would qualify as front impact, but the alignment check will show any real damage to that area. It either fits or it doesn't. Regardless, the front area is easy for anyone to observe. Just have the alignment shop look at it.

Go back to your book and use the 'person to person' pricing, not retail. If you are using the retail amount as your starting point you have already lost on this car. The money saved is the only advantage to buying salvaged. The discount will be deep as it cannot ever be sold to a dealer. Nor will it's brand ever be reversed.
I can't even use KBB or Edmunds for a salvage title (KBB calls the condition "poor" due to the salvage on the title and they won't place a value on it). Bumping up to the next better condition called "fair" for a party to party transaction, the Element with the EX trim package and the miles on it for the zip codes in question say $9620 (now that is with no title problems like this one has and in fair condition). Do I take $1660 off of that price like Carfax suggests, or do I go lower on a car with a title branded as salvage? That would be $7960 (Carfax's suggested discount of $1660 subtracted from the "fair" value rate).

2005 EX, 97K and damage that has been repaired as seen and mentioned in this thread.

What's it worth? Obviously the market rate that somebody will pay for it, but curious what the guy has in it cost wise from the auction buy and his subsequent repairs. Is a ballpark range of $6K - $7.9K too much?

Leadfoot
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
You can see in photo 6 that the strut (and possibly control arm, hub, or knee assembly was replaced with a used one. See the part number paint stick listing? So there was some suspension and likely unibody damage. It also shows this was "rebuilt" in someone's garage, not a body shop with proper unibody pulling and alignment equipment or a proper spray booth. So I'm sure in my professional opinion the repairs are sub-par. Just my two cents.
Ah, good catch on the replaced part. So that probably explains why it was towed. I would imagine, since the owner mentioned he had it checked and nothing needed to be pulled (claims he checks all the vehicles he buys and rebuilds), that he took it to a shop for the alignment check. Probably ditto for the painting as well, but I don't know. I'm just guessing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #32 ·
Great eye! Grease pencil often equals salvage yard...which is not a bad thing really. But I think the guy is qualified or at least more so than most. It may be a stretch to say the repairs are "sub-par", however we do not know for sure. Wouldn't damage to the uni body be evident in wrinkling in the metal somewhere? If the car drives straight wouldn't that be the important thing?
Again, he had the alignment checked and nothing had to be pulled before he did the repair. Regardless, I can easily make an appointment at a top auto/collision body repair shop that has all of the equipment to check the alignment and all of the work completed on the Element.

Selling price would be $6500. If I include tax, title and plates a bit under $7K. Blue Book Value for a 2005 EX with the same mileage and package (roof rack) in my zip code sold private party to private party according to KBB would be around....:

Excellent Condition = $12,940
Good Condition = $12,190
Fair Condition = $10,915
Poor Condition = (KBB won't put a value on a salvage branded title)

So the selling price is about 40% lower than one in "fair condition", 47% lower than one in "good condition" and 50% lower than one in excellent condition. Not worried about resale value as this vehicle, if everything goes right with it, would be driven for at least 7 years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
My car is not salvaged, but it was in a bad accident before I bought it. The dealership hid all the damage very well but after a while, I had to deal with all the expenses and costs of repairing it the proper way. Radiator went on me, then the ac compressor, then there were creaking and squaking noises, the front bumper wasn't the right bumper. There was a lot wrong.

All in all, I would say that it cost me about $3500 to properly fix a car that the dealer sold to me as "certified used".

Now, I know you're talking about salvaged and used, my advice would be to NOT buy that car, because you simply can't trust the work that was done to it and you deserve better. We all do.
Well, I've already got my 2005 RR EX Element that I bought new off the lot and have 93K on so far. I deserved it, bought it and love it. This one is for my teenage son who has yet to reach the point in life where he deserves a top notch car. I drove all kinds of sheet when I was his age and beyond college (an old beat up Datsun pickup, a beat up Mustang, a beat up Volare, a beat up Escort, a beat up Toyota pickup, etc...). He's got to earn it for himself and IMO - this rebuilt salvage is pretty much a luxury vehicle compared to what I had when I was his age.

Too late. I'm picking up the car in a few days. I've got a shop that will put it on their alignment rack and check everything out underneath as well as check all the repairs that were done for a mere $69.

I will follow up with how it drives, how it checked out and any subsequent work that may or may not be needed.

LeadFoot
 

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Discussion Starter · #41 ·
There's a difference between driving a clunker and a death trap. Let's hope this car is not the latter. Also, the reason I'd want the uni-body checked before I bought the car.
HA! One of my early Civics was a guaranteed death trap. Not because of any damage. It was a Honda '81 Civic. If you were hit by anything larger than a bicycle (okay, how about a 50cc Moped), I think death was certain.:lol: I called it my tuna can on wheels as it had about the same protection as the metal used in canning tuna.:grin I still shudder today when I think what an accident in that car would have been like.

I agree with everyone about the concerns over this Element. I bought it for $6600 and just drove it back home the past 2 days. The drive home was 1,249 miles which gave me, as the father, an opportunity to really test it out on the open road with nobody to blame but myself. I encountered rain, wind, deeply grooved pavement from the heat and what 18 wheels can do to an interstate in the south, gravel (detour due to flooding), nice climbs and descents between Asheville and Knoxville and rough, nasty roads in need of repair in and around St. Louis on my journey.

The car drove like a champ. Although I didn't open it up above 85 mph, I did run it at 80-82 mph for quite a few hundred miles. I had it checked for frame alignment and it passed with flying colors. No flood damage and the car does not leak (car wash and multiple rain storms I drove through). It tracks straight, but the new Sigma Wild Spirit tires he put on the front are a very open tread and it they are loud as heck (especially without any floor mats in the Element). I'll order some today. The tires will be perfect for the snow here where we live this winter, but the noise reminds me of the stock Wranglers that came on my 2005 E. You have to talk like an opera singer to be heard in the cab.:)

The man who did the repairs appears to have done an excellent job in his shop. In talking with him, he has done quite a few vehicles over the years. I am taking it to my local mechanic today for a once over, new spark plugs and oil change. Differential oil was changed recently - so that's good to go.

The cheap and illusive cage that covers/protects the fuel tank below was not replaced and got a little bent at the front section of it in the accident. I'll have to figure out if that's worth messing with or not. It might be easy to bend it back into shape. The only thing it would protect the fuel tank from in the situations it will be driven in here would be snow, so it might be worth getting a new one once the deep stuff hits in a few months.

The one issue that cropped up was the dreaded "Driver's Side Rocking Seat" which is covered on various threads here at elementownersclub.com. The DIY fix is $39 for the kit and about an hour or two of my time to fix it according to TSB. It only rocks when the adjustment knob has the seat all the way at the highest point. Other than that - everything seems to be top notch with this Element. It needs a couple of drops of touch up paint on some rock chips on the hood, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Again - there are always several rebuilt Elements for sale and one has to make the decision if the cost savings of a salvage is worth the risk. In this toilet of an economy, I may have been able to pull of a purchase on a similar year Element (but with higher mileage) without any accident history for about $1500 more (according to recent eBay auctions I have followed), so I can't say it was a "deal of the century" or anything. I had a budget to work with that included taxes, title, and delivery or travel expenses for the trip to pick up the car. $6600 for the car. $621 for tax, title, and the 13 month registration. $190 for the flight. Two nights in a motel. 4 tanks of gas and 4 meals. I don't think I could have had the Element delivered 1,249 miles for much less than my trip cost (about $600 total for flight, gas, motel, food).

LeadFoot
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 · (Edited)
The red flag in the pictures you posted are that the ROOF trim was snapped up, so that means it took a hard enough shot to throw something out of whack .

For a restoration that would be a red flag to me to AVOID at all costs.

But it's your dollar, and pictures vs the real deal in front of you are two totally diff things :)

Like you stated its a deal for you but i like having full coverage and in the event someone happens i get a check or my loan paid off. The idea of driving around with a potential problem and not get my $ back = not my cup of tea.

Regards
-Mike
Yes, I see that trim up there in the photograph before the repairs were done. I wonder if there is a plastic clip or bolt that got snapped up there that holds that trim flush to the metal?

Post repair, the plastic "siding" down lower is missing a clip or two as rather than get new pieces or get used pieces to replace them, it looks like he just kept the originals to cut corners and they are missing a clip or two.

For peace of mind, I took it for a second check today to one of the local collision centers who had the time to really run it through their rigorous checks in their shop and run it out to a colleague's shop who has all the big equipment. They both determined it was safe, but they did find some things that can be fixed. I can fix them all at once, or piece by piece depending on how I want to do it.

The front end is within spec for alignment and is good to go - so that's the good news. However, they see that the left rear camber needs just a little bit of adjustment to meet their spec requirements and they found that the right rear needs a couple of new parts (waiting on an estimate for that).

Again, the general report from my local collision center (actually it is 2 centers working together on this project to make sure it is good to go for my son) is that it is safe to drive. Maybe I am too trusting, but that was their experienced and professional opinion. Since they specialize in collision only repair, I assume they aren't just pulling my leg. I was told that what I would notice without doing any of the rear end repairs is excessive tire wear in the rear. With the repairs, it will be back in spec and aligned which would mean normal tire wear in the rear.

Also found that the lower ball joint on the driver's side has a small tear in the rubber boot - so that's due for repair as well. Probably go to a Moog on that to avoid having to buy the whole knuckle and what not from Honda for $130 - 180 or whatever they charge.

So, as everyone has pointed out, she's not a virgin. She's been knocked up, repaired and is still standing and driving on the road. No doubt it was a good knock she took as everyone has pointed out to me. A few tweaks in the rear should iron it all out for alignment, but it does raise my cost. All worth it for the improvement. I'm just waiting to hear what that cost will be on Wednesday when they call me with the estimate (see update below as they called).

$6600 price of car
Update: $604 for repairs on the rear end and on the driver's side lower ball joint

Total of $7204 for the car

Plus...

$621 TTL
$600 Flight/Motels/Food/Gas to get the Element home

Grand Total: $8425 includes car, tax/title/license, 1300 mile transport and repairs

Our original budget from the get go (determined by my wife and I) was around a maximum of $8K for the car alone (not including TTL and transport), so we did come in within our budget including repairs. All in all, not too bad.

LeadFoot
 

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Discussion Starter · #45 · (Edited)
My E is a salvage and will be the 3rd salvage car I have owned along with one motorcycle.

I personally go and pick out the car and have it rebuilt. Some are easy fixes and some are like "really you can fix that!"

My x-wife is currently driving a 03 Grande Am GT that had 45k on it when I got it salvage and has over 140k on it now and have had no "salvage" issue just ur basic stuff no matter salvage or not.

My 2nd was again a Grande Am I drove and wreaked... and walked away even though it was a salvage. Was just fine in the accident I rear-ended a SUV and it was again salvaged but I think it was scrapped and not rebuilt a 2nd time.

My E is a 08 EX 4x4 with 24k on it with light front damage... Will cost me right around 10k when its done... Thats about 5-7k less that retail...

Here in OHIO we have to take them to the State Hwy Patrol and have them inspected b4 you can title and drive.
You need to post up some before and after pictures of your E.

Yes, this one had to be inspected and pass in South Carolina as well. Of course, the salvage or rebuilt salvage "brand" must always remain on the title which it has.

Although filled with a bit of Bondo, it has come together quite well in my opinion. Here's the right side after I put on 2 new rear tires to match the 2 new ones that came with it in the front (NTB's Wild Spirit Radial A/S):


side element wild spirits by singingsingletracker, on Flickr

The right side is looking pretty good...


Finished Right Side from rear angle by singingsingletracker, on Flickr


Finished Right Side from front by singingsingletracker, on Flickr


Maxxis Bravo 750 rear by singingsingletracker, on Flickr

And the before shots once again...


insurance auction full side by singingsingletracker, on Flickr


insurance auction photo front side by singingsingletracker, on Flickr


insurance auction photo rear side by singingsingletracker, on Flickr


at the insurance auction from front by singingsingletracker, on Flickr

Right rear control arms get replaced tomorrow along with the driver's side lower ball joint, a little tweak on the left rear, and everything should be back in spec as far as alignment goes. Front is already there. I am debating on getting a new fuel tank guard or just leave the bent one on there (I crawled under and bent it back into a respectable shape). I know some Element owners just remove it to begin with and drive without it.

The black one drives just as good as my 2005 EX red Element that has never been wrecked. I still can't figure out why this one was written off as a total loss. I guess every insurance company, state, adjuster, etc... operates with various numbers in terms of percentages.

LeadFoot
 

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Discussion Starter · #48 · (Edited)
They did a report on salvage vehicles, and found cases where rebuilders replaced stolen or deployed airbags with shop rags. I don't believe everything they put on tv, but it's not out of the relm of possibilities. Air bags are very expensive, so it's a huge cost save to not reinstall them.
Luckily, the bags on this rebuild did not blow. A look at the post-wreck pictures pretty much explains why. But I can imagine the report you read or saw. I'm sure there are all sorts of shenanigans that go on in the salvage industry.

As far as this particular E.....the front and rear are now totally aligned and within speculation requirements. It wasn't far off on the 4 wheel computer alignment, but I figured why not pay to get it perfect. I had to pay $85 and change to find all of that out, and the subsequent $400 for the right rear control arms ($199 for the right rear parts and the cost of installation) that the shop said were 'bent'. But it was worth it for peace of mind and to get the alignment in spec. I picked it up today and now it actually drives a bit better than my 2005 Rallye Red Element that has never been wrecked. Go figure. Maybe it helped that this salvage build meant I was dealing with a guy who has been doing this in his own shop as a fun side hobby for many years in spite of his busy career in another field. He did fine work and never tried to mislead me about the Element. He even showed me other things he has rebuilt - including his pride and joy, a 34' sailboat that was a salvage from Hurricane Charlie.

LeadFoot
 

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Discussion Starter · #51 ·
After a local widow just went through a head-on collision with a salvage titled car and and the airbags DID NOT go off, I have HUGE reservations to ever buying one. Just my .02....... :-( :|
5 years later, 36K miles driven to date since purchase - and it is still going strong in spite of the premise of this thread was all about! I just put new tires on it, Bridgestone Revo's as I like their aggressive look on the black pearl Element. Even with the basket on top and the big 235/70/16 Revo's - this one gets gets better mpg's than my 2005 Rallye Red

https://flic.kr/p/t3HRjh https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/

That being said, I am taking it in on Tuesday as the AC just went out. Black car and summer coming up does not sound like a good combo without the AC working. :shock:
 
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