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Low Mileage 2017 w/Salvage Title?

davidwagner96

New member
Location
Cleveland, OH
Car(s)
92 Miata
Hi everyone! First post, and I'm looking to get a MK7 GTI. Currently driving a '92 Miata, and it's just not cutting it in a lot of ways as I'm sure you can imagine! I've been looking at a number of cars around the $17K price point, and I saw this one, which is VIN # 3VW547AU7HM034799 listed for $16,395. After a few messages with the seller, here's my rundown. Let me know what you think. I'm specifically interested to hear your thoughts on the salvage title and concerns surrounding the mystery damage.

Here's the CarGurus listing.

Attached are the ultra low res images (edit: replaced) of the Carfax the seller sent me. I believe CarGurus compressed these heavily. I've asked the seller to resend them to my phone or email, but haven't heard back yet. I'll reupload easily legible versions once I get them.

Carfax 1.jpgCarfax 2.jpgCarfax 3.jpgCarfax 4.jpg

Essentially, though, the Carfax looks good in terms of dealer vehicle servicing, but the car was declared a total loss due to some sort of accident that caused $17K of estimated damage.

Here's the salvage auction listing. This listing is somewhat odd, because I don't really see any damage on the car... It also says it runs and drives, and the interior looks clean as well! But it sold for $6725... I'm certainly not seeing $17K of damage in those salvage auction photos. Asking the seller about it, he says he doesn't know the reason it was declared a total loss, but guesses that it was due to enough minor body and panel damage that added up to the $17K estimated insurance bill.

Asking the seller more about the condition of the car, he says it has no mods (ECU, hardware upgrades, etc...), and is in great cosmetic condition. Screenshots are below.

Message Scrot.JPG

I've asked for the repair facility's name (if he has it) so I can ask them what damage they repaired. What else should I ask/look for/be wary of? You think this is too good of a deal to not be a bag of lemons? Edit: see 2nd post for repair facility info.
 
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JC_451

Autocross Champion
Location
NJ
Car(s)
2017 GTI Sport
Minor damage on the scale but the car being totaled seems suspicious to me.

With damage to the front and back I would guess the car was hit hard from behind and pushed into something else. Getting totaled by a rear end crash makes me think the frame was/is bent.

I'd keep looking, unless you're an ace mechanic with lift and tool access, or just some kind of car masochist.
 

Strange Mud

Autocross Champion
Location
Small Town CT
Car(s)
Assorted
I would pay someone for a thorough inspection on this one....the 3 accidents would make me think nope. Not only basics like repair quaility/hidden damage. If you can't drive can you service it....were that many because driving like a loon all the time.
 

JC_451

Autocross Champion
Location
NJ
Car(s)
2017 GTI Sport
I didnt even notice that it was crashed(into?) again after the salvage title was issued.

No matter what this car is clearly cursed. 👻
 

Acadia18

Autocross Champion
Location
Rhode Island
Car(s)
2016 GTI SE
I don't think there was a second accident. It's kinda hard to make out, but it looks like accident reported on 11/1/2018. The next reporting was maybe 12/7/2018? with 18,972 miles:

1623182108787.png


The car then sat for 6 months until it was sold at auction in May 2019 for $6700. with 18,973 miles, and that second report of damage was from the auction listing.

The auction place took their photos with a Motorola Razr from 2005, so it's hard to gauge the damage, but it doesn't look that severe. It could be just bunch of cosmetic damage on a 1 year old car that pushed it above the threshold and it was totalled.

Either way, even with low miles and the fact that it may be fine now, and taking in to consideration todays climate, $17k is way too much to pay for a 4 year old car with a salvage title. I wouldn't immediately turn it down, it's worth looking at, but it's still overpriced by a few thousand dollars.
 

okMK

Drag Racing Champion
Location
USA
Car(s)
Gti
Price is way too high, even if it was a private sale without a salvage title the price is still $2,000 over. Mileage is good for a 2017 but that's not saying much. Next to no cosmetic damage on a totaled vehicle is a huge red flag, that car will probably never drive right.
 

bentin

Autocross Champion
Location
Austin, TX
Car(s)
2018 GTI SE
I had a car that was rear ended three times while I was stopped. Each was at least a $10k repair, one was $22k, all were handled through insurance and the dealer repair shop. When I sold it, I disclosed all of that and ran a CarFax just to be complete. It came back totally clean. I don't trust CarFax at all and would assume that there's probably even more damage not being reported on this pinball of a car. Keep looking, it's not an outstanding deal even for a clean car.
 

turbo_dreams

New member
Location
AZ
Car(s)
MK7 GTI
When I was shopping for mine, if the carfax wasn't clean, I walked away.

If you try and sell or trade it in down the line it's going to require the right buyer for a private party sale or diminished trade in value at a dealer.
 

imthanick_a

Autocross Newbie
Location
Ohio
Big nope, keep looking. You can find a much better one for the same price range.
 

cb1111

Newbie
Location
Virginia, USA
I had a car that was rear ended three times while I was stopped. Each was at least a $10k repair, one was $22k, all were handled through insurance and the dealer repair shop. When I sold it, I disclosed all of that and ran a CarFax just to be complete. It came back totally clean. I don't trust CarFax at all and would assume that there's probably even more damage not being reported on this pinball of a car. Keep looking, it's not an outstanding deal even for a clean car.
A clean CARFAX means little. Reported physical damage is probably there, but severity is suspect.

But getting back to this one - insurance companies will do most anything to keep from totaling a car. If they total it, then they don't believe that it can be repaired properly for the estimate.

That doesn't mean that the car can't be put back together with baling wire and chewing gum, but if the estimate was $17k - and the car was bought for $6700, then it had to be repaired for less than $10k.

Hard pass. This thing is a death trap.
 

davidwagner96

New member
Location
Cleveland, OH
Car(s)
92 Miata
Thanks for the great replies everyone! The seller emailed me the original quality pictures of the Carfax, so I replaced the potato versions with the new ones. The seller also knew the name of the repair facility, which is Spectrum Auto Works in Oak Park, MI. I called up the shop, and the guy said he's fixed 7 or 8 Golfs, so didn't remember the exact vehicle, but he said that all the cars with no body damage were engine replacements. Something about the plastic oil pans cracking or something if they run off the road. Seems plausible, but the MK7 composite oil pans are actually less prone to cracking or shattering than aluminum ones. Additionally, the salvage auction said the car ran and drove... Auction could've been wrong on that, though since auction houses tend to try to pump cars through as fast as possible for good turnaround. The Spectrum Auto Works guy said that he bought 5 or 6 test Golf engines with a few hundred miles on them for cheap from some company, so he would specifically buy GTIs with little to no body damage but underbody damage and damaged engines. The seller says that he's had no issues running or driving during the couple years he's owned it. Could be trying to get rid of a lemon, but maybe he also just wants something new...

Definitely seeing what you guys mean about too much sketch so best to avoid! This sleuthing is pretty fun though I'll say.

A couple of replies are mentioning that the price isn't that good, and I can find better deals, but have you guys checked the market lately? Not sure if these have inflated recently since I've just started looking within the past week and a half, but I'm not seeing any accident-free GTIs with low mileage for this price, let alone Autobahn editions. $17K seems to get ≈80K mile '15 or '16 good cosmetic dealer GTIs that are S or SE. And according to KBB, this car (priced for $16,395) is worth $22846. That's assuming a non-salvage title, of course, but I wouldn't call it overpriced for the market. Anyway, if you gents have links to nicer cars in this price range, I'd love to see them since I'm not coming up with anything low mileage around $17K. Really don't care about the Autobahn edition or luxury features, just would prefer low mileage since I plan to keep the car till 200K+ miles most likely.
 
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