About a month ago I bought a wrecked 2007 Ford Focus online at Copart. This post will be a brief summary of expenses with the car and the process it took me to get a rebuilt title issued.

Illustration for article titled The real cost of buying a salvage title vehicle


When I bought the car, the “winning” bid was $175. After fees, the final purchase price was $363.00. Since I don’t have a truck and trailer, a gracious friend who has experience with buying salvage cars and rebuilding them offered to tow it... for free. Not wanting to be a total dick, I bought him a few gallons of gas. Gas is cheap in Ohio. Add on $10.42.


Purchasing and getting the car home set me back a total of $373.42.


When you get the car, it’s in someone else’s name. So, you have to go down to the title bureau and get the car in you own name. How much is a title transfer? For all Ohio vehicle titles, getting the car in you own name will cost a flat fee of $15 if you bring cash. I remembered to do so that day.


Usually, title bureaus and BMVs are in the same building or right next door to each other. It’s pretty convenient. In my state, to get a salvage vehicle inspection, you must go to the BMV and get a paper called a Salvage Receipt. This allows you to legally drive the vehicle to and from the Ohio Highway Patrol inspection station and pays for the inspection itself. The standard fee (by cash again) is $50. Parking in the deck cost $2, but I’m an idiot and had to make two trips, setting me back $4. Total cost in this stage was $69. (nice)


I went to a local junkyard, LKQ Pick Your Parts on a Saturday with a few buddies, a fully charged impact, and a toolbox and was able to procure the necessary hood, bumper cover, fenders, door, headlight, and airbox for a total of $234.58. Also accounting for the $3 admission fee and $33.50 refund for cores, I paid $204.08. The weekend I went was 40% off for New Years, so prices were a little lower than normal. I also had to buy a few lightbulbs for the car, since I didn’t buy enough at the junkyard. Add in $12.53 for required lighting and we come to a total of $216.61.


Oh, I have to pay more money to the state now!

That’s right. After successfully completing the inspection, I had to pay to flip the title to rebuilt ($18) and pay for tags and registration ($43.20). Fees were higher than normal because I forgot to bring cash. Registration included a new set of plates (which will likely be used on the Rabbit) and road tax up to August, when the other vehicles all expire simultaneously (this is going to be an expensive renewal). Total cost to the state? $61.20.


In total

After summing up all expenses to this point, we find the final total cost:

Purchase: $373.42

Title/Inspection: $69

Repairs: $216.61

Title and Tag: $61.20

This all comes out to a grand total of $720.23. Woohoo! I’ve spent $720 on a car I don’t in any way, shape, or form want or enjoy driving.


So, I sold it. After a few weeks of lowballs, I finally sold it for $900. A cool $180 profit. Nice!

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