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Old 03-25-2007, 11:28 PM   #1
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Should I buy this Focus?

I figured this'd be a good place to guage Focii worth, considering there's so many of you that have them. Basically, my budget is really low, and my biggest concerns are cheap, reliable, and able to take me down to LA once in a while without exploding.

Here comes the complex story, however..
This focus has a Rebuilt Title!
It's an 05 Ford Focus ZX4S 4door. He's selling for 8k, which he will go down to 7500, maaaybe lower. It has 20k miles on it. He says (I haven't carfaxed it, yet, I forgot to write down the vin and he doesn't have it) a previous owner had a little collision with it, which caused the airbags to deploy, and the insurance company was quick to salvage it (which I hear happens often with airbags deploying). He says there was no structural damage, only the bumper and the hood, and that's all that was fixed, besides re-installing new airbags. He says a company bought it, repaired it, had it recertified by the california DMV, and he bought it from that company. He did all the required inspections, has documentation, he changed all four tires on the thing, and had them check the wheel alignment, which is good, and he has documentation. I haven't felt how good it rides or sounds, but it definitely doesn't look damaged at all, it looks pretty damn new. He says he personally changed the oil every 5k miles, always with synthetic, and has some of the records on that.

I have no doubts on his honesty.. I have to doubt a little bit, but we are both military, we are selling it on my base's Lemon Lot. He seems extremely open, and even seems to be trying to help me out on my decision, even if it's not to buy that car. I can understand a bit of exaggeration, even subconscious exaggeration because he wants his money. He says 7800 is what he has left to pay on it, but is willing to take a few hundred.

Now, I have pretty decent trust in the fact that this car is fine, it drives fine, he's honest, and it fits in my budget, barely, and it is the perfect car for me, but on the down end is the problems that come with the official title of it being 'salvaged'. I hear sometimes Insurance Companies won't insure them, but I've never heard of insurance costing more (because the car is worth less), but on the flipside of that, I read somewhere if the car is totaled, the insurance company will pay the worth of the car, which, because of it's title, is only a fraction of the realistic worth. The other thing is I'm not completely sure if I'll want to keep this car forever. I may decide soon that this type of car isn't for me, and I want to find something else, and I can't do the easy thing and just trade it into a dealership and get a new one, simply because of the title a dealership will only pay a tiny amount. I'd have to list it, and when it sells, buy a new car, and swing it somehow.. Lots of trouble :p

And I can see a two, maybe 1 and a half year old car being sold with a salvaged history and all, but by the time I'm done with the car it's going to be a 4, 5, 6 year old american car, and people are already going to question it's mechanical integrity at this point, plus the title.. I can imagine it being an extremely tough thing trying to sell this thing in a few years. I'd have to run the thing into the ground, or sell it super cheap (and hopefully get a better deal from this guy because of that). Plus the depreciation of Fords is already pretty high.. It just seems like a really tough situation.

Edmund's True Market Value for private sellers of this vehicle is about 9k. For those of you that don't know and still think bluebook is what you should pay, TMV is the average price that model and year and make of that car has been sold for in your area. KBB is the average listing price, so don't tell me about the KBB values : p. I'll be paying about 86% of the TMV of that vehicle. What's the average percent of normal prices usually paid for bad titles like that? What do you guys think about all this long drawn out paragraphs of stuff I just said? I sorta feel like I should go for it, but that's still so much money. Sorta. Plus I heard something about if you pay for a car on a loan, you're required to get full coverage insurance on it.. One friend told me that, and I've never heard that before, so I dunno.. I'm in california, if that helps.

Thank you guys!


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Old 03-25-2007, 11:40 PM   #2
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Foci are reliable, but I would not buy a salvaged vehicle. You can find a good deal on a focus anywhere. 5000 would probably be a better asking price IMO. Try and get your hands on an '03 or '04 ZX3 with the 2.3 duratec motor. I owned one for a while, never gave me a single problem and it was definitely reliable. My local dealership ran a sale after the '04's started getting replaced with the new model...$8500 for a brand new focus. Don't rush the process...do a lot of searches and you will find lots of cars.

edit: BTW, if the airbags deployed then it was probably not a small collision. And one more thing, insurance companies do not like salvaged vehicles, but they will usually insure them if they have been re-certified. One MAJOR thing to consider is that it is an American car...and even if the focus is probably the most reliable car Ford makes in America, it may still have the standard problems. Good luck getting any dealership to help you with any problem if the car is salvaged for a decent price.
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Old 03-26-2007, 12:18 AM   #3
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id say shop around bro. tons of foci out there.
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Old 03-26-2007, 01:00 AM   #4
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Hope I can help you......

First of all, I am an auto insurance claims professional, with 28 years experience.
.
1) The price the man is asking seems high to me. You can get a BRAND NEW 2007 Focus sedan for around $9995 (I've seen them advertised here in Orange County, Ca. for that. that's only $2K more.

2) You know what kind of "recertification" a car goes through in California after it's 'totalled' then rebuilt? - You have to get a smog certificate and a lamp certificate (headlamps aimed correctly) - THAT'S IT.

3) What kind of 'paperwork' does this guy have? Insist to see ALL of it. You want, at a minimum, a complete itemized estimate of what was wrong with it after the big crash. You also want to see invoices of all the parts that were purchased to rebuild it. It maybe OK if some structural parts were repaired instead of being replaced, but you want to make sure that the important stuff ( like the airbags, for one ) were replaced. ( it's also OK that some used parts were utilized to save $$ )

4) You will also insist on a complete vehicle inspection by:
A) mechanic of your choice.
B) experienced body shop.

5) Insurance - You may not be asked if the vehicle has a salvage title when you put it on your policy. As to insurance coverage, you will pay a full premium on a car that is probably worth only 65-70% of normal retail value. If YOU total it, the insurance company will, of course, give you what a 'salvage vehicle' is worth, not a 'normal' vehicle.

For what it's worth, I would invest your money in a good reliable, low-mile used car that DOESN'T have a chequered past......
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Old 03-26-2007, 01:37 AM   #5
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what he said............
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Old 03-26-2007, 08:16 AM   #6
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If buying used, you'll get a better deal on a similar vintage ex rental fleet focus. Look at the enterprise rent a car lots, or even the local ford dealer - as they sometimes have ex hertz rental cars. (they are referred to as "program cars" typically).

Since it's a ZX4 S, it's nothing special. Now if it were an ST, or an SVT, with a substantial markdown - it *might* be the risk, provided you get an itemized list of what was done and the mechanic and body man say the car is in tip top shape. I for one, would not buy a salvaged bottom feeder focus for close to what a clean undamaged focus is worth.
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Old 03-26-2007, 12:33 PM   #7
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thoes cars are always in the auto trader magazines.the problem is you have sometimes travel across the the whole damn country to even see it.
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Old 03-26-2007, 01:21 PM   #8
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check local banks and stuff for repo's. they want to get rid of those cars to get the money theyre owed.
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Old 03-26-2007, 01:30 PM   #9
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No way in hell should you even consider buying the car.

I bought a 03 Focus ZTS with 54k miles for only $6200. And it has a clean title.

For 7500 you could get an 03 or 04 with 20k miles and a clean title easy. Check cars.com first (they usually have tons of Foci on them and you can arrange by price range lowest to highest) then check ebay, and lastly autotrader (most expensive).

Craigslist is another option but usually craigslist consists of junkers.
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Old 03-26-2007, 03:54 PM   #10
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I would keep looking. When I bought my car in 2004, I paid ~$6200 for it (it is an 01', so it was 3 years old at the time). Granted, it had about 73,000 miles on it, but I would keep looking if I were you.
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