Tips & Tricks You Need to Know When Buying a Salvage Car

Most cars you see driving down the road have never had the misfortune of being in an accident more serious than the occasional dents and dings that occur from everyday use. There are other cars that you see every day that had some accident that caused the auto insurance company to declare it a “total loss.”

For savvy and hands-on type individuals, the opportunity to buy salvage cars can turn into rebuildable cars that are safe and more affordable. These can be great cars to use for a primary vehicle or for some extra cash for cars when flipped.

Buying a Salvage Car Near Me

buying a salvage car
Image credit: Pxhere

If you are in the market for a great deal on salvage cars, we have taken all of the research work off of your shoulders and came up with this list of 5 tips and tricks you need to know when buying a salvage car. We will have you ready to search for salvage cars “near me,” and to participate in salvage auto auctions.

1. Do Your Homework

Unlike popping down to the local car lot to see which used cars are available and walking out with the keys to a used car, buying a salvaged car requires much more planning. It is safe to assume that crashed cars for sale, even if they are repairable cars, cannot simply be driven back to your home. So, if you are looking for a salvage title, it is best to look for auctions that are closer to you so that it is easier to transport the vehicle back to your hometown.

2. Prepare a Budget and Do Not Overbid

When you are looking to purchase a car from US auction brokers, make sure you have a firm budget in mind. Carefully consider how much you can afford to spend on a car. When the auction comes around, stick to your budget and do not bid more than you are prepared to spend. Whether you are looking at junkyard cars for sale, wrecked cars for sale, or repairable cars for sale, having a budget is key to refraining from overspending. You are going to need money for parts and repairs; so, do not spend all of your money on the initial purchase.

3. Check for Any Damage

There are many salvage cars for sale that could or may not be worth your time and money. Used car auctions typically list any issues that the seller noted about the car. With salvage cars, the auto insurance will probably have a fairly detailed report about the damage they noted when they declared the vehicle a “total loss.” Do not bite off more than you can chew with the damages. Some seemingly minor damages on crashed cars can actually be more major than they seem at first glance.

4. Arrange Transportation

Even if you are purchasing a vehicle at a nearby auction, you will need to make sure you have transportation ready to go. After you have won your car, truck, or SUV at the auction, you will need to remove the vehicle from the premises as soon as you are able. Most auctions require that you use a licensed and insured transportation service to pick up the vehicle from the auction yard.

5. Start Planning for Your Repairs

Even if you do not have the vehicle in hand yet, you can still start planning on what repairs need to be done. Make a checklist of what needs to be repaired, checked on, and anything else that you want to do to the vehicle. It is also best to budget for any unknown repairs that may arise throughout the repair process. Also, make sure to document all of your repairs as you will need this when trying to get a rebuilt title.

Where You Can Shop for Car Auctions

Below are some reputable companies that sell cars at auction. See if one of them might be the best option for you.

  1. IAA: IAA has more than 210 facilities in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. They have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and have won several awards from the auto insurance industry. They have live auctions, timed auctions, and “buy it now” vehicles for sale available to dealers. Some cars have very minimal damage while others have more extensive damage. Overall, this is a great site to search for the vehicle you want.
  2. GAA Classic Cars: Greensboro Auto Auction is located in Greensboro, NC. If you are looking for an awesome classic car to purchase, they have tons of them in varying conditions. They also have later model cars as well which makes for a well-rounded inventory. Lastly, you must register to bid on cars.
  3. A Better Bid: A Better Bid is a Copart registered broker with over 300,000 vehicles for sale and over 190 locations across the US. Are you looking for a V-10 Dodge Viper? They have several for sale! They have just about any car that you may have your heart set on. The vehicles have a wide range of damage; so, check to see what is available for your needs. The best part is, that they’re 100% online, you can bid from the comfort of your home and no dealer’s license is required.
  4. Metro Auto Auction: Metro Auto Auction has locations in Phoenix, AZ, and Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX. You must register at their location before bidding on vehicles. They are a well-respected company and have lots of vehicles for purchase. MAA offers sales, transportation, reconditioning, post-sale inspections, financing, salvage, and specialty sales to make your purchase easy and quick.


Buying a car can be a stressful experience. If you follow the five tips and tricks outlined in this article, you can make a smart purchase that will be perfect for you. Whether you are looking for a personal use car or one to flip for some extra money, these tips will help make sure your purchase starts out on the right foot.

Jasper has been an enthusiast of the automotive and IT industries since the age of 16. He independently writes on the auto industry's recent happenings.