Ever considered buying a salvaged car?

About 60% of the imported cars sold in Nigeria are “salvaged cars” i.e. accidented cars declared as a “total loss” by insurance companies. These cars are regarded as worthless; they are sold at large car auctions with some costing as high as $80,000! They range from a few months old “new models” to 10-year-old cars. For anyone who is able to calculate and take the risk, buying a salvaged car could be an amazing opportunity. With careful consideration, you could save as much as 20 to 40 percent when you buy a salvaged car. The value of salvaged cars may differ depending on the age of the vehicle, the pre-title condition of the car, the amount of damage and other factors. There are two major things to consider when taking the risk or seizing the opportunity, one is the state of the engine and the second is the major parts damaged.

The checklist to consider when thinking of buying a salvaged car are:

• What elements of the vehicle are/were damaged to earn it a salvage title?
• Are those elements critical to the performance of the car?
• Are the costs of repair within my budget and worth the effort?

Also Read: How to buy and ship a car into Nigeria

Before purchasing a car with a salvage title, it’s advisable to track the entire history of the car’s title. CARFAX or AUTOCHECK are good starting points for your research.

Having done a proper analysis of the vehicle in the context of all stated above, let’s highlight the possible dangers when purchasing a salvaged vehicle from abroad.


  1. You may underestimate the extent of the damage to the car and hence the cost of repairs. The pictures on auction sites may not be enough to judge. Buying through an agent, often an experienced car expert, who can conduct a first-hand inspection considerably reduces this risk.
  2. There are no fixed price tags to purchasing a salvaged vehicle as this could be the decision of the private seller, dealer or the agent, which is why the same vehicle brands and model can go for two different prices miles apart.
  3. The purchase is done at ‘owner’s risk’. It is at best a game of luck, except you have direct contact and an opportunity of a third-party inspection or investigation on ground before you buy. The critical success factor is buying a salvaged car for much less than you would need to repair the damage.
Scrap Yard With Pile Of Crushed Cars in tenerife canary islands spain

Also Read: 6 mistakes Nigerians make when buying used cars and how to avoid being scammed

A lot of Nigerian dealers opt to buy vehicles that are likely to have only cosmetic damages which could be easily repaired. How do they know such cars?  From experience, cars that have been damaged at the rear or sides usually don’t throw up serious unexpected defects such as a cracked leaking engine. Some Nigerians “order” salvaged cars from dealers abroad who have purchased and carried out repairs abroad to their specifications. The danger is some dealers skimp on the repairs so that can make more money or do not disclose the full extent of damage to the car.

With a bit of careful planning, buying a salvaged car can offer you great savings; this could be the difference between buying a regular 2010 Toyota and buying a 2015 luxury salon. It’s best to use a reputable agent who will transparently discuss your options and costs with you. Arbiterz is compiling a list of reputable dealers that can help buy salvaged cars as well as auto mechanic workshops that will be of great help to you, should you decide to purchase a salvaged car and ship for repairs in Nigeria.

What has been your #UserXperience buying a salvage car from abroad, kindly share with us.

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