EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

March 24, 2013

Do your homework before buying a salvage car

Dave Says
Dave Ramsey

---- — I want to buy an inexpensive car, and I was wondering what you think about salvage titles.

It’s not impossible to find a decent salvage car. But I’d take extra precautions to find out exactly why it was salvaged.

If it’s a salvage car because it was wrecked, I’d take a look at what kind of wreck caused the damage. Lots of people know how to repair and rebuild cars, so it might end up in better condition than before if you find the right mechanic.

On the other hand, I’d probably walk away if the vehicle had been flooded. Some people claim they can fix waterlogged cars, but that’s a tough job. In most cases water just doesn’t do very nice things to onboard computer systems and wiring.

Regardless, do as much research as you can into the car’s history. See if CARFAX has a record. But if the seller doesn’t know anything and other searches don’t turn up good information, my advice is to say no. Make sure you check with your insurance company before you make the purchase too. Salvage cars are sometimes more difficult, or more expensive, to insure.

My wife and I are members of Costco and Sam’s Club. We don’t buy everything at these places, But do they save you enough money on some things to justify the annual fee? I think so.

The biggest problem most folks run into with wholesale clubs is overbuying. I mean, who needs nine gallons of mustard? You don’t, unless you’re in the restaurant business. So, if you don’t need at that level and won’t use at that level, don’t buy at that leve. You’ve got to shop around and know your values.

Lots of people think overbuying isn’t a big deal, especially if it’s something that only happens by mistake once in a while. But the truth is it’s really dangerous. You should plan your shopping the same way you plan your budget — with great care and common sense. If you don’t, you can end up spending way more than you can afford on things you’ll never use. Talk about dumb.

Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He’s authored four New York Times best-selling books: “Financial Peace,” “More Than Enough,” “The Total Money Makeover” and “EntreLeadership.” Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.