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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, everyone. I am a n00b to this forum since I am in the shopping process for a Subaru since my Civic was demolished by an F-150 last week. I live in Utah where pretty much 1 in 3 cars are Subarus, so dealership pricing is "meh" at best with the high demand. However, there are quite a few dealerships that specialize in rebuild titles, mostly Subarus. While I am wary of a rebuild that was deemed a total loss from a collision, I did find a seemingly pristine branded title 2017 Forester Limited for $16K with only 13,000 miles. The catch is that it was written off due to the flooding in Houston/Galveston that happened on Sept. 29, 2018.

The dealership is small, family-owned, with great reviews and A+ BBB rating. The owner of the dealership said that he was told the car was in a parking lot that flooded and all of the cars in the lot were written off, even though the water didn't reach high enough to hit the undercarriage. After the total loss, the carfax only shows 1 repair - the water pump was replaced. The dealer does not have photos of the damage and though I've searched extensively online, I can't find any either. (The VIN is JF2SJALC8HH471118 if anyone has some Jedi research skills). They also don't have an invoice of any other repair work which may have occurred in the rebuild process if there actually was any damage to the vehicle.

I visually inspected the car very thoroughly and couldn't see (or smell) any signs of water damage. There were no issues, warning signs, or things out of the ordinary in the test drive.

While it strikes me as odd that an insurance company would write off a perfectly good vehicle on the off chance that it had water damage, there are a few things that make this story plausible:

- based on the photos and videos I've extensively searched of the flood in Galveston, most of the town was covered by 6" or less of water, well below the Forester's clearance
- the car was titled as a lease, so perhaps the dealership would have been unable to lease/sell the car again after the lease was up if it was potentially water-damaged
- the leaser of the car was probably in the military (insurance was USAA) and suddenly started driving a LOT (8000 miles) in the 3 months before the car was totaled, so s/he would probably have been happy to swap the Forester for a car with better gas mileage
- Texas has no official rules about how much a car has to be damaged before it's deemed salvage

I'm usually as skeptical as they come, so I would purchase an aftermarket warranty if I decide to buy the car. I've read all of the cautionary tales about Branded titles, but most of the objections are moot point for me:
- I will drive my cars till the wheels fall off or someone else destroys them, so I'm not planning on selling this and I don't care about resell value
- my insurance ran the VIN and will cover me at pretty much the same rate I had with my Civic
- the dealer's price is more than $10K less than the market price, which is very good for a salvage/rebuild title
- I only drive 3-4000 miles/year. Sacrilegious as it may sound, I'm not going camping or off-roading with this. I just want AWD and safety technology like blind spot detectors in a vehicle that's big enough for trucks to see (and hopefully not run into).

Am I wanting something that's too good to be true, or did I actually find a unicorn? Apologies for the long post and thanks in advance for any advice!
 

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2018 Forester XT Touring
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I don't know much about buying a flood car, besides that "real" flood cars you really don't want to deal with, they end up with electrical issues and corrosion issues that last the life of the car. sometimes cars are totled with little real damage, the dealers are alwys telling you that what you're looking at is one of them.

I would assume it would be more expensive or not available to buy a warranty for this type of car.

if it were me, I'd skip it unless I were well versed in flood cars.
 

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2005 Forester 2.5X RWD JDM 6mt
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I live in Houston. You don't want it, or anything that came from floods here.

*edit*
I am actually surprised that someone has got this to sell again. It was my understanding that Texas created a new brand for flood car titles last year as "Non-Rebuild-able"
Which was worse than salvage, as the car was branded a total write off and not even able to get a title/registration/anything on it. Just for parts.
 

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I would stay away. You can easily find a much nicer vehicle that is not a salvage/rebuilt for $16k with a warranty. It may be much less expensive than a comparable Forester, but a salvage/rebuilt vehicle has no warranty at all. All repairs needed come out of your pocket. Subaru will not support it at all because they do not warranty salvage vehicle. All 14-18 Foresters got a free 10 year/100k mile CVT warranty. This vehicle lost that coverage due to being a salvage/rebuilt. If the CVT goes, it costs around $8k-10k to have replaced, they do not rebuild them.

Unless you have deep enough pockets to pay for all repairs it may need in the future, I highly recommend you look elsewhere on a clean titled vehicle. Unless you personally know the person who rebuilt it or did it yourself, there is no telling what corners were cut to get it back on the road.
 

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2017 Forester XT Touring CVT
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I would stay away. You can easily find a much nicer vehicle that is not a salvage/rebuilt for $16k with a warranty. It may be much less expensive than a comparable Forester, but a salvage/rebuilt vehicle has no warranty at all. All repairs needed come out of your pocket. Subaru will not support it at all because they do not warranty salvage vehicle. All 14-18 Foresters got a free 10 year/100k mile CVT warranty. This vehicle lost that coverage due to being a salvage/rebuilt. If the CVT goes, it costs around $8k-10k to have replaced, they do not rebuild them.

Unless you have deep enough pockets to pay for all repairs it may need in the future, I highly recommend you look elsewhere on a clean titled vehicle. Unless you personally know the person who rebuilt it or did it yourself, there is no telling what corners were cut to get it back on the road.
Great point to be made and to build-on and clarify. The vehicle could have the same issues that any other subaru of the same type could have. i have brought my 2017 XT with 60K miles, in for 3 warranty repairs thus far.
-front control arm bushings
-power steering motor causing stalling and was replaced
-drive-ability issues and complaints addressed with dealer ECU and TCU updates and re-flashes. that were part of service campaigns and TSBs, all done under warranty.

so think you would lose access to free work done by the subaru dealer network while the car is under 36K mile warranty.


Forgot to add: the vehicle has been passed inspection by both Texas and Utah DMVs and an independent (but not Blue Star) mechanic.
Have a Pre-Purchase Inspection done by a subaru dealer. tell them the entire story. ask them to focus on reading the computer for codes. have them document everything they find and every code that is pulled and give it to you on the Repair Order.

Hi, everyone. I am a n00b to this forum since I am in the shopping process for a Subaru since my Civic was demolished by an F-150 last week. I live in Utah where pretty much 1 in 3 cars are Subarus, so dealership pricing is "meh" at best with the high demand. However, there are quite a few dealerships that specialize in rebuild titles, mostly Subarus. While I am wary of a rebuild that was deemed a total loss from a collision, I did find a seemingly pristine branded title 2017 Forester Limited for $16K with only 13,000 miles. The catch is that it was written off due to the flooding in Houston/Galveston that happened on Sept. 29, 2018.

The dealership is small, family-owned, with great reviews and A+ BBB rating. The owner of the dealership said that he was told the car was in a parking lot that flooded and all of the cars in the lot were written off, even though the water didn't reach high enough to hit the undercarriage. After the total loss, the carfax only shows 1 repair - the water pump was replaced. The dealer does not have photos of the damage and though I've searched extensively online, I can't find any either. (The VIN is JF2SJALC8HH471118 if anyone has some Jedi research skills). They also don't have an invoice of any other repair work which may have occurred in the rebuild process if there actually was any damage to the vehicle.

I visually inspected the car very thoroughly and couldn't see (or smell) any signs of water damage. There were no issues, warning signs, or things out of the ordinary in the test drive.

While it strikes me as odd that an insurance company would write off a perfectly good vehicle on the off chance that it had water damage, there are a few things that make this story plausible:

- based on the photos and videos I've extensively searched of the flood in Galveston, most of the town was covered by 6" or less of water, well below the Forester's clearance
- the car was titled as a lease, so perhaps the dealership would have been unable to lease/sell the car again after the lease was up if it was potentially water-damaged
- the leaser of the car was probably in the military (insurance was USAA) and suddenly started driving a LOT (8000 miles) in the 3 months before the car was totaled, so s/he would probably have been happy to swap the Forester for a car with better gas mileage
- Texas has no official rules about how much a car has to be damaged before it's deemed salvage

I'm usually as skeptical as they come, so I would purchase an aftermarket warranty if I decide to buy the car. I've read all of the cautionary tales about Branded titles, but most of the objections are moot point for me:
- I will drive my cars till the wheels fall off or someone else destroys them, so I'm not planning on selling this and I don't care about resell value
- my insurance ran the VIN and will cover me at pretty much the same rate I had with my Civic
- the dealer's price is more than $10K less than the market price, which is very good for a salvage/rebuild title
- I only drive 3-4000 miles/year. Sacrilegious as it may sound, I'm not going camping or off-roading with this. I just want AWD and safety technology like blind spot detectors in a vehicle that's big enough for trucks to see (and hopefully not run into).

Am I wanting something that's too good to be true, or did I actually find a unicorn? Apologies for the long post and thanks in advance for any advice!
Also run the vin through ClearVin. it will give you the auction history of the vehicle usually with pics. you have to pay 8 bucks but its worth it. the site is very reputable.
If the PPI checks out, then weigh you concerns about not have the free support of the subaru dealer network that the car should have up to 36K miles, and more if you were able to purchase extanded factory warranty, which you cant. Also the 36K mile factory warranty from subaru was canceled the moment the car was branded at salvage.

Get the opinion of a auto body and collision center near you talk to the manager and explain you situation and ask them for their counsel. also have them inspect the paint work, bring the car to them so that they can see.

when im purchasing any car i bring it to my autobody guy. he gives me is 55 years of experienced backed opinion and will tell me if damage has occurred to the car and if it was fixed correctly.
you can do this also if the deal is being organized over the phone. ask the seller to bring it to reputable auto body shop of your choosing. set it up with the person who runs the auto body shop. last time i did this the owner of the shop did it just to be a nice person trying to help me out. i sent 5 pizzas to his shop for him and his crew.

you have to weight your decisions.

I say no only because you lose the free support of the subaru dealer network. But if you have a subaru mechanic in your back pocket that will work for cheap, beer, or free. then yes i would do it if everything else checked out.

@angelsgirl85 hope this was helpful advice.

don't let the internet write the car off with out seeing it.

make an educated decision. which you seem to already be doing. your posting of this shows that you recognize when you need input from others and you are now seeking the ideas and aid of others that may have more knowledge on the subject then yourself. draw from the input and do your own research to get to a decision that you can live with.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks everyone for your feedback. Unfortunately, I don't have a trusted mechanic and I have no DIY automotive skills, so I've decided not to risk it - even if I bought an extended warranty, that would run out in several years and I don't want that kind of anxiety every time I drive.

Between the high demand for Foresters right now and the general time of year, there are no deals on gently-used Foresters - iseecars.com says that April is the absolute worst month to buy a car. Unfortunately, I don't have the luxury of time since I'm car-less; thankfully, my boyfriend didn't trade in his "beater" car when he bought his Outback several months ago, so I've been borrowing that, but I don't feel right keeping it for that long. I'm going to look at pre-owned Mazda CX-5s and Impreza hatchbacks since there's more inventory and better deals on those in my area, and I don't normally need to haul all that much aside from our "fur baby" (a 45-lb French water dog).
 

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2015 Forester CVT (automatic) boo..really wanted manual 😐
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Thought I’d share with you my recent experience with a rebuilt Subaru, albeit not flood damaged, but hopefully my experience can help you decide.

I’m a newbie here too, & bought my rebuilt 2015 Forester 2.5i with 46K miles about a week ago in TN. I’ve wanted one for years, and since I’m back in school full time to get a different degree, and driving an hour each way to school daily, I couldn’t afford for something to happen to my Civic (300k & still starts like a champ, just drinking lots of oil ❤-I also drive cars until the wheels fall off, obviously!) Since we are living on one income currently, I had $9500 cash to spend, so thought I’d have to settle for something with higher miles or a little older, until I found this one. The market value on the car I bought with comp miles is $17,500, so I got a great deal. We normally would never even consider one that had been in even a small fender bender, but after seeing the before photos (rearended/right back) plus the fact it it was being sold by a Subaru mechanic with a Subaru only shop, driving it, and getting reassurances (in writing) that it was safe & had no issues, we bought it. I noticed a few small flaws in repair work (paint & body work was subbed out) and I didn’t expect it to be perfect anyway- my main concern was the engine. So, turns out OVERALL, per several other mechanics/paint body guys, it was a good rebuild. However, I found out my back control arm was bent & the body guys reused as much as possible & left off/used broken parts under the bumper where it wasn’t readily visual. I found this out ½ way home on my drive to AL when the back bumper almost came off. We got it safely home, & then took it to get three estimates. To rework what can be & replace broken missing parts is around $600, including replacing bent control arm, which is the only mechanical issue. The guys I purchased from profusely apologized for missing control arm, and I am driving back to TN tomm for them to replace it. They also Venmo’d Me $300 to go toward the other repairs. I bought it “As Is,” so they did not even probably have to do either of those things. I’m not sure about the laws where you are, but I know both TN & AL are more concerned with there being no stolen parts used in repairs- rebuilders have to send in receipts/photos of receipts/parts purchased & used. State law says they are supp to be comparable to before wreck but there is no State intervention to get your money back/make them pay for repairs if done incorrectly.( Although you can file complaints) Georgia is MUCH more stringent, all rebuilt must be visually inspected, so I’ve heard. Anyway. I’d DEFINITELY check laws regarding how the rebuild is cleared for sale & what your recourse is in case something happens. I’d also definitely get, in writing, what they say to be true about it’s history & repairs. The one thing I’ve heard over & over is to stay away from flood rebuilds- so if I were you, I wouldn’t rule out rebuilds, just look for one that isn’t a flood rebuild. Overall, my experience, while irritating, hadn’t been bad. And even if I was having to come out of pocket for the repairs, I’ve still got a $17,500 car for WAY under $17,500. I’d definitely consider doing it again, at this point, based on my experience. Good Luck!! 🍀

P.S- I also looked at Mazda CX-5, but I have 3 English Setters who love to ride, so had to look for a Forester vs the smaller Subaru’s. But I LOVE. the Subaru Crosstrek, if you haven’t looked at them. They could def haul one dog comfortably!!
 
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