Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Mark asks: I am interested in a 2016 Odyssey which had an accident and now has a salvage/rebuilt title. I am told the front bumper, fender, and driver’s door were replaced, and the driver’s side sliding door was repaired. Two airbags deployed and were replaced. Everything now hunky dory per the dealer. It is apparent the accident history has resulted in a very favorable asking price for this low-mileage vehicle. How deleterious should I regard the accident history in making my decision?
My reply: This could, indeed, be a great opportunity to nab a fantastic deal. You are quite right that a “salvage” or “rebuilt” title will scare away many potential buyers – not unreasonably.
If these two statements seem at odds, let me explain:
If the vehicle was correctly repaired – if it was possible to correctly repair it – then the “salvage” or “rebuilt” title is of no real meaning insofar as the soundness of the vehicle. But it is very, very important to find out that the damage wasn’t so extensive that repairing it should not have been attempted.
Most modern cars – including this Odyssey – are unibody designs, which means the structural parts and the exterior body parts are welded together (mostly; some external panels such as front fenders are still bolt on/off). This saves weight but when there is an accident, the unibody can be bent such that it’s very hard to straighten everything out to what it was, with the result being problems such as leaks and rattles and poor panel fitment, etc.
That said, it is very easy to “total” almost any modern car that’s more than three or four years old and very repairable – except for the cost of doing the repairs relative to the value of the vehicle itself. In such a case, the insurance company will often just cut a check for the “book value” rather than have the vehicle repaired. The vehicle is then either parted out/scrapped or – as in this case – repaired and resold by another party, with the “salvage” or “rebuilt” title.
My advice is to have the car thoroughly checked out by an independent mechanic who knows how to check for frame issues/accident damage and – if it checks out ok, then proceed.
But don’t commit until you’ve had the Honda looked over… carefully.
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Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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