Car parts stores sell both new and used spares; locations that sell used parts typically also sell used vehicles that can still be in working condition if repaired. No matter if you decide to purchase just the spares or the entire car, make sure to ask first for a clean or salvage title.
Even if you think you are buying UK used car spares, sometimes you may actually be getting a salvaged US import instead. While there’s nothing wrong with salvage title cars and parts, it is absolutely necessary that the seller lets you know about it.
In the US, vehicles are issued with a salvage title either by a motor vehicle agency or an insurance company. These autos have been destroyed or damaged (regardless if in an accident, fire, or flood) to such an extent that repairing them would cost more than 75% of the cars’ original value. Other times, a salvage title vehicle is one that was stolen.
According to CARFAX Europe, tens of thousands of salvage title cars are exported to the continent each year, and obviously, many end up on the UK vehicle market. Salvage title autos are generally not roadworthy unless properly repaired.
Often, though, they are rebuilt with spares from separate vehicles (known as car clipping) and sold, without the new owners ever knowing what they are purchasing. While in the US sellers are required by law to disclose if a vehicle has had a salvage title, this information may not always get to the unsuspecting European buyer.
Drivers will therefore take their newly purchased used cars to the roads, as the vehicles look safe and roadworthy. In reality, though, they may have been repaired only superficially, which makes them not only unsafe but downright dangerous. A visual inspection only is not enough to tell the difference, especially if the car’s title documents have been altered to conceal that the vehicle is in fact a salvage car.
The bottom line is that it is your responsibility as the buyer to meet all title and safety requirements before taking your used car to the roads. A salvaged car that was issued a rebuilt title can be returned to the road legally, and makes a great and inexpensive means of transportation for many people. Just make sure to check the repair work by requesting copies of receipts, and if possible, try to contact the mechanic who handled the car.