I cannot believe how easy it is for salvaged cars to be sold - without anyone knowing!
There's no government run database that keeps track of salvaged cars. I talked with the Used Motor Vehicle Commission and they tell me a car can be considered salvaged here in Oklahoma (when less than 60 percent of its fair market value at the time of the accident is lost). But say it's sold to a person living in a state that does not record if a car's been in a wreck (like Arizona). Then the car is sold back to Oklahoma - with a clean title.
I should say not all salvaged vehicles are bad. In fact, a wrecked car can be a great deal - as long as it was fixed properly.
The real point of tonight's story is to make sure you have as much information as possible about the car you're about to buy. The lady we talked to wasn't told her car had been wrecked. The only way she found out is by pulling a carfax report. You can pull one too - just go to www.carfax.com - It'll cost you 25 dollars... but will be well worth it if you avoid a bad car. And you can ask whoever is selling the car to you to provide a copy of the report.
Also, if you're buying a used car - especially if it's an "as is sale" make sure you take it to a certified mechanic. We checked around town and some places will look at the car free. Others will charge 150 dollars to check out the computer system. Again, it's money well spent to avoid a headache!
As for the lady we interviewed, she's in luck! She took her carfax report to the dealership and they renegotiated a price. If they hadn't - she could have complained to the Oklahoma Used Motor Vehicle Commission. They say it is up to the seller to disclose if the car has even been salvaged. And just because the title has been "washed" - that's no excuse.
Hope you never need to file a complaint with the commission, but if you do, their number is 949-2626.