When I Took A Huge Risk On A Used Car

Reading Time: 5 minutes    

Sometimes we see an opportunity. We don’t know for sure if it’s a good opportunity or not. There is some risk or a lot of risks involved. But at the same time, there is information to counter that risk.


For me, I needed a larger vehicle and I didn’t want to pay a lot of money for it. I wanted the bells and whistles, I wanted low mileage, I wanted an aggressive design and a sporty ride……but I didn’t want to pay a lot of money for it.


All of the sudden and without me realizing it, an opportunity presented itself: a luxury vehicle with all the bells and whistles, BUT (plot twist) it’s been in an accident. It’s been fixed up and is now selling for a DEEP DEEEEEP discount.


Many may be against this decision, and we never know what the future will hold. But my decision was based on a calculated risk, which has paid off so far.



The Facts


The car or rather SUV I am referring to is a 2014 Infiniti QX60 fully loaded including a theatre package. I bought it with ~9,500 miles. When it first came, the damage was mainly on the roof (no flood and no fire), see before pictures below:



Rebuilt Truck


Then, about a couple of months later, the truck was finished and this was the end result (pictures from my iPhone):




The morning when my truck was ready and I went to go pick it up with my family. Hey, the TVs in the back work, which is all my son cared about while watching his favorite cartoon: Paw Patrol.


In the end, I saved tens of thousands of dollars when comparing the same year, same mileage, and same features, this truck would cost approximately $38,000 at a dealer per Kelly Blue Book.


I paid $21,000, a difference of $17,000 or 45% less than the KBB value.


Ofcourse I didn’t find much in support of my decision in the personal finance space: Nerd Wallet kind of, sort of thinks there are some upsides” Finding a diamond in the rough: There are times when a salvage title car is only slightly damaged but still being sold for a low price”. Actually, the article is pretty good if anyone is crazy enough like me to consider a rebuilt car a possibility.


Cars Direct also believes salvaged cars should be “avoided”.  But it does note the possibility of “Finding Gems in the Junkyard” by talking to the seller, test driving, researching insurance, and researching in general.  I took all of these steps at great length before I made my decision.



Factors That Enabled Me To Take The Plunge


An inherent risk exists with buying a salvaged and rebuilt vehicle. How can this risk be minimized and comfort achieved? Here are the factors that helped me reduce the risk of buying this vehicle:


Established Reputation – my family and community has known about this dealer for almost 30 years and has purchased numerous cars and trucks from this establishment. Off the top of my head, I can count well over 10 vehicles. I personally know the owners of all 10 vehicles who purchased months and in some cases years before me and did not have a single problem (except minor aesthetic issues which when pointed out were immediately corrected by the dealer).


Discloses The Damage on The Cars (i.e. Full Transparency) – the dealer provides the details of the damage on the car at the time it is received at his shop. He also will let you know if he personally is comfortable with selling the car to you or if he will fix it and sell it at auction. He’ll send you the before pictures of any car that has entered into his shop. You may wonder, how do I know he is being truthful about this? Well, this is based on the Established Reputation factor/gold star he has earned as mentioned above.


Provides a Three-Month Warranty – ok I know three months isn’t a lot. But you will be able to tell a lot about a vehicle when you drive it for just a couple of weeks.


Another factor I’ll wrap this one in is Strong Customer Service and Goodwill. We had a fender bender not too long ago. So I decided to go to him for minor body work. After he was finished (and the work came out great might I add), I asked him how much and he said: “pay me whatever you want”.


The dealership owner provided a rough estimate of the cost on the phone a few weeks ago but forgot about it which was hundreds less than 3 other body shops I called when obtaining an estimate – well north of $1,500.  So I ended up paying the estimate he gave to me, which was a little bit over $600.



Held Up Well So Far


I’ve already driven it for over 40,000 miles. I bought the truck in February 2016 and since then have taken a few road trips including one from Maryland to Chicago Illinois (1500+ miles) and a couple of trips from Maryland to Virginia Beach (500+ miles each time) as well.


Fortunately, I have not had any major issues with the truck. It’s just been regular maintenance such as oil changes and brake replacement.


Many may not agree with the risk I took as I’ve heard you never know what you’re going to get with this (salvage and rebuilt) kind of car. I agree that’s true, but any car can have major problems.  For example, my friend bought a brand new Acura TSX several years back. After less than a couple of years, it had major transmission problems so he had to get rid of it and at a loss.


I’ve also read that an owner of a salvaged car will encounter problems selling it.


Personally, I plan to drive this truck until it dies while keeping my fingers crossed (not at the same time of course).  If something doesn’t work out, yes it may take a considerable amount of time to sell it but there may be buyers out there like me looking for a huge discount on a luxury vehicle.


I realize that a vehicle is meant to get the driver and passengers from point A to point B. However, if that can be accomplished with a feeling of enjoyment and pleasurable driving experience, then I see it as a bonus! Maybe it’s a phase I have not yet grown out of.


Ok, let me hear it….did I make a horrible mistake? Did I swim against the current? Did I kick the hornets’ nest? Or did I use available information and past history to compile an informed decision?






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