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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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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.
 

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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.
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
 

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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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I wouldn't buy a salvage because I have kids... only the safest rides for my kids...one of the reasons I bought the E as we are a very active family and often go on long road trips... no better vehicle is equipped for us than the E... so much in fact, that we are discussing trading in our 2007 Yaris for a 2009 or 2010 Element EX in the near future to become a 2 E family.
 

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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.
 

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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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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....... :-( :|
 

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FWIW: I bought my 2002 F150 Super Crew, when it was 3 months old, with a salvaged title. I have had it for over ten years now, and have put over 100,000 miles on it, without any problems.

I bought mine from a reputable rebuilder, guy has been doing it for over 30 years.

Of course, the truck has minimal resale value with a branded title. So that needs to be built into the price. And as long as you keep it a long, long, time, resale is not that important.

I paid ~50% of what my truck sold for new, with 3,800 miles on it, 3 months old, but a salvaged title and no warranty (Ford was quick to cancel it).

Seller also showed me pics of the truck as acquired. The crash damaged front bumper, grill, radiator and hood. I think sometimes insurance companies total them out just to avoid claims headaches.

And it is recycling at its best. Just know who does the work.
 

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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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So I read this entire thread tonight and I'm glad to hear it paid off now that 5 years have come and gone but I am curious if you drive this more than your son or if he pays for these repairs???? I thought this was originally bought for him. Curios if you still have the '05 RR Element too. Thread was very interesting. Good luck with the AC repairs. Keep us posted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #53 ·
So I read this entire thread tonight and I'm glad to hear it paid off now that 5 years have come and gone but I am curious if you drive this more than your son or if he pays for these repairs???? I thought this was originally bought for him. Curios if you still have the '05 RR Element too. Thread was very interesting. Good luck with the AC repairs. Keep us posted.
I fixed the AC yesterday. It was a $6 relay switch that is housed in the under the hood fuse box. Kudos to a great thread at this site on how to track it down. That saved me much $$$ and headaches.

I don't know any college kid that can afford to pay for automotive repairs let alone a sandwich at lunch, so of course the parents fund the transportation.

He has been in Europe this past month after graduation on a school trip. So I've been cleaning it up and puttering around with it the past 2 weeks since not much has been done to it the past 4 years.

I put the new tires on it this month as it was due for some new rubber. There's a good chance he will be heading off to graduate school in a different car and my wife or I will take over this one since it works well for our bikes, dogs, groceries, winters, jobs. So I have been busy cleaning it up and making sure everything works no matter who is going to drive it.
 
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