sevenracer Reader
7/5/22 1:26 p.m.

So, my wife's car is getting totaled due to a tree falling on it - as detailed here.

Finished negotiations with the insurance company and need to make a decision on whether we buy the vehicle back or not.

It's a 2017 Chevy Volt Premier with 46k miles and a 5yr CPO warranty ending in 2024. Except for the rear hatch glass being broken out,  all damage is cosmetic/superficial. Essentially, one rear quarter is creased across a character line, and there are several pock marks in the roof. They are kind of at eye level, so pretty noticeable.

Considering buying it back and getting the rear glass replaced for ~$500 and driving it as is. I have talked to the DMV and don't think there is much risk I couldn't get a rebuilt title if the glass is fixed.

Current market value of the car is around $26k. Buy back is around $9400 or about 36% of retail market value.


My question is, what's a reasonable percent of private party value to expect to sell it for with a rebuilt title and the cosmetic issues in say 1 year, 3 yr, 5 yr? It seems hard to believe I couldn't sell it for $9900 today with the glass fixed. Just might take a little while. Seems like the older it gets, the less the title/damage would matter.

We've been looking for a replacement Volt but not having a lot of luck, so thinking of kicking the can down the road and possibly coming out a bit ahead on dollars, but maybe I'm being optimistic on resale value.

SKJSS (formerly Klayfish)
SKJSS (formerly Klayfish) PowerDork
7/5/22 2:14 p.m.

Right now, the market is high for everything, salvage vehicles included.  You could easily sell it today for $10k with replaced glass and salvage title.  A few years from now, when/if the market has an adequate supply of new cars it could be an entirely different story.

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
7/5/22 2:19 p.m.

Sell vs keep: It will depend on how long you want to keep it. The longer you keep it, the closer the rebuilt vs clean title values will get, eventually converging on a minimum. I would search for comps on rebuilt title Volts, and make sure they are significantly higher than your buyback + repairs. Also look very hard at how easy it is to get a rebuilt title. Make absolutely sure you don't need to be a special shop or have some special license to do it in your state. 

Another way to look at it: you are basically pocketing $16k from converting your car from clean title to rebuilt title. Is that worth it to you?

General thought: being such a fuel efficient vehicle, it's not a bad one to keep around long term. On the flip side, gas prices are very high and if they ever come back down, so will its value. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
7/5/22 2:31 p.m.

Yes, be sure to know what your state requires for you to be able to rebuild it yourself!  

Will your current auto insurance continue to insure the car with a rebuilt title?  

Two years remaining on CPO and just 46k miles for $10k seems like a reasonable price.  

Do you still owe on the car?  If yes, how does that work?  Do have to come up with the $10k in cash before they pay you the $26k-$10 = $16k?  Does that $16k pay off the loan?  

ddavidv UltimaDork
7/5/22 4:18 p.m.

First, the car needs to be paid off for this to work. I've never had a lender the least bit interested in playing the salvage retention game.

When the world isn't insane and desperate for chips the value of a reconstructed car is 50-70 percent of what a clean title one goes for.

sevenracer Reader
7/5/22 4:19 p.m.


The fundamental question I am trying to answer is how likely is it that I would lose money if I do this? Based on a conversation with a lieutenant at the DMV who does the actual inspections, I have a high confidence in getting a rebuilt title just by fixing the window.


So, see my "worst case" swag below - is it horribly flawed? To me, it looks like even if I sell in a year and I can only sell it for 10% of the value of an undamaged vehicle, I basically break even. If I keep it longer (highly likely) or get a higher percent (also likely), the dollars become much more favorable.


Net proceeds of settlement = ~26k - 9.4k = $16.6k - $500 for new window = $16.1k

                                                                                   Undamaged           Rebuilt title (10%)           delta

swag priv party value in 1 yr with 60k miles:      $18k                          $1.8k                                  $-16.2k


I'm pretty sure I can find a buyer for a 2017 model, low mileage car with no mech issues for more than $1,800. Heck, it would be Challenge eligible at that price!


preach (dudeist priest)
preach (dudeist priest) GRM+ Memberand Dork
7/5/22 4:37 p.m.

My Golf R is a salvage titled car. I paid about $8k less than if it wasn't a salvage.

Steve_Jones Dork
7/5/22 6:44 p.m.

In reply to sevenracer :

Your thinking is a little flawed, you'll own the car for $9900 with the fixed window. If you sell it for $1800 you've lost $8100 in real money since you can just put that $9400 in the bank now (and not spend the $500). The real question is how close to the $10k is the car worth when you go to sell it, I'd say it's worth $10k for a few years at this point, so why not keep it? That being said, if it gets hit again, they won't pay you $10k so that's a risk. 

 Also, the warranty is void at this point.

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
7/5/22 7:34 p.m.

In reply to Steve_Jones :

I hadn't thought of the cpo being voided. sad

759NRNG UberDork
7/5/22 7:48 p.m.

Nothing to add just absorbing the intricacies of this process should /would it ever occur y'all 

I'd do the buy back at this time ....cuz what everyone is saying about used prices....late

Opti Dork
7/5/22 8:04 p.m.

I've generally considered salvage title cars worth 60-75 percent . My only experience is with performance cars on the inexpensive side.

Never compared prices on more of an appliance car

dculberson MegaDork
7/5/22 8:10 p.m.

I don't see a world where this car - once operational and register-able - isn't worth $10k. It will be worth well more than that for years.

sevenracer Reader
7/5/22 10:20 p.m.

Thanks for all the replies. It's an interesting thought exercise (at least for me since I haven't faced a scenario like this before) - to me it still seems like an opportunity. We're fortunate, the car is paid off and sitting at our house, not incurring storage fees, plus we have another car my wife can drive temporarily. I have a truck and trailer to be able to easily take it for the needed inspections. My wife isn't much bothered by driving it with dents and scrapes.

A little additional context. I am choosing between 2 options: the car either needs to be "rebuilt" or replaced with something comparable in cost (i.e. PHEV with similar age and features - most likely another Volt)


So, in my worst case scenario, where we only keep it a year and I have to almost give the car away - rebuild vs replace is almost a wash:

Rebuild: 26000 payout - 9400 buyback - 500 window = 16,100 net. Sell after a year for 1800 (10% of 18,000 wag normal priv party sale) = 16100 + 1800 = 17900 net

Replace 27000 payout (settlement adds tax and tag $ if no buy back) - 27000 (buy comparable) = 0 net. Sell after a year at normal market value = 0+18000 = 18000 net

Total Net = -$100


In a more probable scenario - keep it 3 years and get 40% of normal value upon selling:

Rebuild: 26000 payout - 9400 buyback - 500 window = 16,100 net. Sell after 3 years for 4800 (40% of 12,000 wag normal priv party sale) = 16100 + 4800 = 20900 net

Replace 27000 payout (adder for tax and tag) - 27000 (buy comparable) = 0 net. Sell after 3 years = 0+12000 = 12000 net

 Total Net = $8900


Seems like pretty significant potential for upside. I do think the sales price of the rebuilt car will be highly constrained by needing to find a buyer who has cash, or is willing to find a lender who will do a loan on a rebuilt car.

Steve_Jones Dork
7/5/22 11:30 p.m.

In reply to sevenracer :

If the replacement value is currently $26k, why do you think it's going to drop to $18k in a year? Based on that logic a 2016 (1 year older) should be available now for $18k, are they?

Wouldn't the replacement be $26k payout, sell in a year for $24k, less the $1k tax/tags, for a net of $23k?

Basically you're ending up with $16k now and a $10k car, or a $26k replacement car. When it's time to sell, the question is what loses less money, the $10k car or the $26k car? If the $10k car is now worth $5k, the $26k car would need to be worth $21k to have the same dollar loss. If it's worth $20k, the rebuild was the winning play, if it's worth $23k the replacement was the winning play. 

You're stuck on the $16k payout which is not really relevant because you're getting a $26k payout either way, just part of it is a car. 

sevenracer Reader
7/6/22 12:45 p.m.

In reply to Steve_Jones :

I do really appreciate your viewpoint, but it's probably not worthwhile to fully hash this out on an internet forum - though i'm sure it would be a fine conversation over a beer.

Just a couple of quick clarifications of the assumptions in my rudimentary model that were probably not made clear:

I assumed the purchase of a replacement vehicle will be through a retail outlet as we have been looking and there just aren't any private party for sale near us.

For resale value in the future, I assumed either will be trade in or private party, so they will naturally be less than retail - i.e. the car I buy from a dealer for 26k, may sell for 23k at a dealer in a year, but my trade in value or pp sale will be significantly less.

Since I was going for "worst case" I also assumed the used car bubble will deflate if not burst (vehicle bought today at retail of 26k worth 18k in trade or PP sale after a year of ownership) based on economic headwinds reducing demand, new car supply catching up, etc. The exact numbers are obviously debatable.

One take away from your post is that while I was very aware of the value of the rebuild car affecting the net favorability, I had not identified how much the assumptions of future value of a replacement car affects it. If the replacement car holds it's value well in my model, it tips things in its favor pretty significantly. So, thanks for that insight.

But my past experience (sample size of one) in selling a car that still had significant value was that private party sales are tough. I had a desirable car in great condition (3 yr old GTI) that took me weeks to sell, actually weeks to get somebody to even come look at it - first guy who did bought it. And he needed a loan, but he worked for a bank, so was comfortable getting that done. It was listed at a price well below what a dealer would list it for.


jfryjfry SuperDork
7/6/22 12:50 p.m.

I'd just like to go on record as very interested in buying it - now or in the future!    Let me know if you get to that point. (Username at yahoo)



Steve_Jones Dork
7/6/22 1:43 p.m.

In reply to jfryjfry :

The easiest way to sum it up is as follows.

You will have $10k in a vehicle that will be worth at least that amount for a few years, even with the rebuilt title, it seems like a no brainer. You'll be driving it for free.

Patrick GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
7/6/22 1:55 p.m.

Fix it and drive it into the ground with a bunch of $ in your pocket, but i doubt the warranty will carry over with the car being declared a total loss so there's that to look into

sevenracer Reader
7/16/22 7:54 p.m.

Quick update, lots of conversation with insurance to get here, but car is no longer being totaled.

Settlement payment is on the way, and we have safelite scheduled to replace the back glass Monday. Any other repairs TBD. 

Slightly less dollars net than doing the total then buyback, but no rebuilt brand on the title and none of the associated state inspections required. 

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