Salvaged. Just hearing the word froze my entire body. What in the world was I going to do now? I completely convinced my wife that I thought I was getting a good deal. I stood at the DMV with my jaw on the floor. What are my options? Is it really as bad as they say it is?

When it comes to major purchases, it is best to sit on the idea and think, “is this too good to be true?” I was impatient, impulsive, and I wanted the vehicle now so I could check off the box. We are getting closer and closer to the due date for baby #2 and I felt pressure to act. I didn’t do my due diligence on this particular van – I just went for it.

I was running off adrenaline and totally made a bad investment decision. I should have seen the red flags all around, but I had tunnel vision. I feel shameful, guilty, dirty and most of all, I feel terrible that I let down my wife. Scam = scum! They didn’t disclose that the vehicle had a salvaged title, and of course I didn’t ask. I simply trusted them. Everyone should do the right thing, right? Later, I found out that I should have bought a CarFax report and that would have given me all the information I needed to make a sound financial decision.

The emblem was missing off the front, the window washer fluid nozzles were missing, one of the rear side doors was completely jammed shut and wouldn’t open and they even replaced the circuit board to lie about the odometer.

The crazy part of this whole thing: I was sitting in Financial Peace University the night before listening to BUYER BEWARE. How could I have been so stupid? Why did I not listen to the same principles that have guided me over the years and I am discussing with other people to do follow suit? I know that we all make mistakes, but this was a major folly.

I know that it will work out in the end. The Lord will provide a way out for us and eventually I will be able to sleep soundly again. For now, I wish I could hit the rewind button and tell myself to get out of there.

Part 2 – more information came to light. The CarFax had a typo and the odometer is correct. We are basically rebuilding the van and the next step is to get it inspected at the dealer. From there, we can determine what needs to be installed to make it a safe, reliable car again.

As of this writing, I am waiting for the smog, brake and light inspection to pass. Then I will be off to the DMV to finalize the inspection and get it “street legal” as it were I am going to install new tires on it since my children will be riding in it. Things are starting to turn around! Feeling a little bit better about the whole situation. Lessons learned – I could have done without the anxiety and panic attacks. I will definitely do more research next time around.

Part 3 – Smog, brake and light inspection passed. Once we found out that it passed, the next step is to get the clean title in hand. I went back to the person who posted the Craigslist posting but he had no idea. The girl who’s name was on the transfer paperwork told me she bought it off someone from Facebook. Again, no help there. Now I decided that it was time to launch a full blown investigation. The DMV should be able to sort this out. Once I have the title in hand, then I can legally sell it.

Words of advice…

  1. Always take someone else with you when you go to purchase a vehicle. Inspect it with them to verify things are in working condition or that the price will be reflected for having to do the work yourself.
  2. If you can get the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) ahead of time, run a CarFax or call your insurance company to see what they can tell you about the vehicle (like if it is insurable)
  3. Test drive the vehicle with the seller and the person you brought along for the ride. You can get a good feel for the car while accelerating, braking, and maneuvering.
  4. Make sure the person has the Transfer of Liability paper with them. Usually it is attached to the pink slip stating that the certificate of title belongs to the seller.
  5. If possible, get a cashier’s check. You can always void the check and get the money back. Or if you find out it is a scam, cancel the check ASAP. With cash, it is more difficult to trace. Never give out your social security number.

As of right now, the vehicle is parked and cannot be driven until title is in hand. I cannot legally sell the vehicle until that occurs.

Part 4 – the investigation started. I have a case number and there is someone assigned to the case. They just started reviewing the information that I submitted so we shall see what comes next. I am supposed to follow up in a few days.

Part 5 – I went to the field office and they had me fill out a statement of facts. I listed out everything that I could. At that point, they issued me a title. It still turns out that the odometer was messed with, so they issued a Suspense Report and told me to explain when I call that the transfer of title will include a suspense report of odometer misuse. All in all, this has been a strange and wild 3 weeks. Thankfully, I was still able to enjoy the opening rounds of March Madness.

PS – I cannot wait to get the pink slip / certificate of title in hand so I can sell the thing and get it out of our lives.

What is something that you have done with money? What lessons did you learn from it? Let’s talk!

Published by MadsenFinancialCoaching

Madsen Financial Coaching was created to bring awareness to personal finance. When you pay attention, you win! We work with clients to understand their behavior and relationship with money, as well as basics of personal finance such as: following a budget, eliminating debt and building an emergency fund to name a few. We want you to succeed, and it starts with your willingness to put in the work.

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