A car is more than just a method to get from point A to point B. It’s a roving extension of your identity, and how you feel about your car can affect how you feel about yourself. A car is a source of image, and can convey professional competence or floundering incompetence. No matter what type of car you drive, what type of car you want, or where you plan to drive to, one persistent reality will affect how and what you drive: money. Cars are expensive, with rising prices that outpace the inflation rate.
Some car buyers turn to the used market to address these price constraints. Others are attracted to the low prices and fast purchase times associated with salvage and flood vehicles. But is a flood vehicle worth the price? And can you resell it at a profit? Here’s what you need to know.
About Flooded Cars in Minnesota
Water might not seem like a source of destruction, but floods can destroy property and lives in a matter of minutes. Cars are no exception. Even a few inches of water is sufficient to destroy a car. Water dries quickly, though, which means that it may not cosmetically damage a car. Some flooded cars look fine. And therein lies the problem.
Unscrupulous sellers may market flooded cars as standard used cars. Some may even sell stolen vehicles as flooded cars. Unwise buyers may not realize the perils of buying a flooded vehicle, relying on their gut and their eyes as a judge of the car’s quality. Don’t do this. A flooded car may have a totally destroyed engine, a rusted undercarriage, or mold growing in the seats.
Any car may be a flooded car, so you should never blindly trust a seller—whether or not they say the car was flooded. Request a copy of the title, and get the car inspected every time. To protect yourself from flooded car scams:
- Test drive the car you intend to buy.
- Pull a vehicle history report.
- Google the seller to ensure they don’t have a history of scamming buyers.
- Get the seller’s full contact information.
- Have the car inspected by a mechanic.
Flood and Salvage Titles in Minnesota
Not all flooded cars in Minnesota are salvage cars. Some are. If the car is six years old or newer, has been declared a repairable total loss by an insurer, and was worth at least $9,000 prior to the damage, it will carry a salvage title. This designation will follow the car from owner to owner, even if the car is fully repaired.
Cars that have been flooded that do not meet these criteria are a source of concern. Buyers should know that not all flooded cars are branded as such, and some of the lowest value cars, with the most extensive damage, may not carry salvage titles.
Can I Buy and Repair a Minnesota Flooded Car to Get a New Title?
In Minnesota, owners can repair salvage title cars to attain a “clear salvage” title. This title indicates that the car has a salvage history, so is not the same as a new, clean title. But this designation does provide some assurance that the car has been repaired to Minnesota state standards.
Tips for Successfully Entering the Minnesota Flooded Car Market
Buying and selling flood cars is a viable way to make money, but it’s not for everyone. To maximize your chances at earning a profit in this industry:
- Apply for a dealer’s license. This allows you to attend dealer auctions, which offer higher quality cars and lower prices.
- Know how to spot a fraudulent title. Some salvage and flood cars are stolen vehicles.
- Have a clear plan of attack for repairing the car. Knowing what’s necessary and how long it will take from the outset can help you devise a plan for selling multiple cars, always having money on hand for repairs, and always making a profit.
- Never attempt to obscure a car’s history as a salvage or flood vehicle. This illegal strategy, known as title washing, can land you in jail or in a costly lawsuit.
- Don’t finance a flood car, no matter how appealing it is. It’s always possible to lose money on these transactions, and financing a car that turns out to be a dud can send you into serious debt.
- Get involved in online salvage car communities. This widens your market beyond your immediate geographic region, and can put you in touch with buyers who are looking for the exact car or cars you have available for sale.
- Be honest with buyers. Misleading sales pitches can land you in legal trouble, and destroy your reputation.
- Know that some salvage cars may be stolen, so seeing a copy of the title, and verifying that it is not fraudulent, may keep you out of jail.
- Become active in your local dealer community. These are experts who can mentor you, let you know whether your strategies are likely to be effective, and welcome you into the dealer community.
- Get to know the car market. Figure out which cars are in demand locally, and focus on providing those cars to buyers.
- Educate yourself about cars. Choose cars that are in high demand in your local market, or else you may end up with a car you cannot sell.
- Set a clear budget for each car you purchase and stick to it. Don’t allow bidding wars and ego to drive up the price of a car that should sell cheaply.
- Request a copy of the title of every car you intend to buy, and conduct a vehicle history report before purchasing the car.