So you’ve decided it’s time to take on a project car. A little searching and you find a cheap one. Too cheap. It’s a salvage car that’s been in a wreck but the price is just right. Is this the one? Can rebuilding salvage cars be as easy as they make it look?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. It’s way harder.

Table of Contents

rebuilding salvage cars- wreck
Photo by Laker on

The Myth

Youtube is filled with videos of people doing amazing car projects. Spend 5 minutes searching any car-related build you’ll find super high-end budget builds and the all popular Salvage car build.

The story goes something like this. A Youtuber finds a great deal on some dream car but it’s been in a wreck or some other accident maybe a fire and begins a long documented video journey of his/her road to rebuild.

You watch enough of these and you think to yourself, “how hard could it be right?” The answer is hard. Very hard.

Carefully estimating parts and damage on a vehicle is a fine art. Most people underestimate what it really takes.

Add in tool costs, ever expensive parts, time, and it can easily cost you more than a clean title car. If you get it totally wrong It can really put a beating on you.

Ulterior Motive

See what might not seem so obvious is that the value in rebuilding these cars comes from the revenue generated by the videos they create. Not by saving money on a wrecked car.

Looking for a used car that’s not salvaged? Check out for your next purchase.

But let’s say you’ve found the perfect deal, got it for a steal, and got all the parts under budget. Somehow you get it back together on the road again and driving. So it must have been worth it right? Mostly still no.


Think of a mug you drop on the floor that breaks. Sure, you can glue all the pieces back together, but is it the same mug?

Unless you come way under what it cost to buy used, (about 25%less) it’s not worth it. Why? because it will still be a salvage car. There will always be bugs and kinks you have to live with because things never really go back together 100%.

Salvage cars also have much less resale value because of tarnished titles. People are afraid of them and rightfully so. That’s the whole reason Carfax exists. Buying a salvage car will make it much tougher to resell.


Think long and hard before spending money on your project. Much better to spend a few dollars more on quality, clean title, nonwreck car.

Check out this list of best cars to buy here, here, and here.

It’ll save you tons of headaches and money in the long run. Don’t rebuild that salvage car.

However, if you do still decide to buy a salvaged wreck. Document and Youtube it. It might just save you.

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