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Monumenticus

Copart Vehicle Inspection

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I went back TWS to inspect a few of the cars being auctioned. I wanted to share my story and some photos.

 

When you get there, you have to tell them your Copart user number and list up to five lot numbers for the cars you want to inspect. Then you wait for an escort who takes you out in a golf cart. This picture is coming out of turn 3, looking up the hill towards turn 4.

 

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After each rain, the constant heavy equipment traffic has churned most of the turf to mud. Mud that gets tracked onto the pavement, then it dries out and makes dust. Everything is covered in heavy dust. And here's a zoom-in on one of the forklifts moving a car. Not pretty.

 

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A Dodge Challenger next to a car I was looking at. They briefed us that if the windows are all rolled up and especially if it's marked "bio", like this one, to approach the car from the up-wind side and step back as you open the door to let it air out for a minute.

 

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Almost everyone who works there has a copy of this aerial photo with the grid drawn on it, that's how they know where the cars are (the last 4-digits in the Copart lot location number)

 

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Each insurer storing cars there has their own territory. Here's a Panamera that got misplaced and put on State Farm's turf. Nice Wheels.

 

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Looking down the hill over the apex of turn 9.

 

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I chatted with Louis for a while. He's still there making burgers for the guys working there. And he has a few t-shirts he's still trying to unload.

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Very cool, thanks for sharing. I've seen them moving cars with the pitchfork at other locations and, man, that is a major turnoff for me wanting to buy one of these, no matter what it looked like.

 

Did you decide on a car?

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Here's one of the cars I looked at, a sweet little '06 SL500. During your inspection you are allowed to start the car but not move it, however, most all of the cars there have dead batteries. Some (like this one) got their windows rolled down and they have dried out and now have a good bit of dust inside. You can't use any tools, including a battery jumper, so inspection is pretty much just looking at the body, the interior, and popping the hood. 

 

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Everyone wears safety vests so they don't get forklifted. Orange vests for the escorts, yellow vests for us customers.

 

Some of the cars had the carpet pulled out. Quite a few have the consoles popped up to get the transmission out of park apparently. I was told it's a recovery tow truck thing to wrap the driver seat belt around the wheel to keep it straight and the brake pedal to keep it up.

 

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Somebody's 335 next to the SL I was looking at. Maybe they can take the insurance check and make a down-payment on the M3 they wish they had gotten.

 

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Did you decide on a car?

 

Not yet, this would be a first time for me. So I've been looking to get something really undervalued and cheap enough that if I have to I can just walk away from it. I had the high bid on an M-B SL, but it was below the sellers reserve, and we didn't meet in the middle.

 

My escort was a BMW guy, we chatted about those for a while, and he favored me with an out-of-the-way drive by the exotics area.

 

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And you can see the landslide at north end of the front straight.

 

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A picture from standing in the bed of a lifted pick-up truck. The cars are all packed in, so if they need to get one out of the middle they have to fork-lift all the cars in front of it, then get it out, then move all the others back. So most all the cars there have been picked up multiple times. 

 

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A Ford Focus RS standing out in bright blue.

 

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A Lexus RC-F. Nice looking as long as you can't see the grille.

 

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I've heard the prices are anything but cheap...

 

Do they have a list by make?

There is a wide spread on the prices. I've been watching a bunch of auctions and comparing winning bids to the estimated retail values. Most go between 10 and 50% of the estimated retail value, depending mainly on condition. Porsches seem to go on the high end. Not as high as the Toyota SUVs, which get a lot of bids from the middle east. American sedans on the low end, yesterday i saw a Pontiac GrandPrix go for $40. I grabbed this screenshot of a Scuderia going for $111,000:

 

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They have a search tool. And then there are options you can use to filter down. Engine size, Transmission type, ...

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Well, since I live just 2 miles from TWS I have no excuse not to get an ID# and go check it out. I'm just desperate for a new project now that I sold the Miata, and can't yet pony up enough for the car I dream of ('85-'98 911 coupe... same car every person on earth currently wants, apparently). I'm going to check out these 4 lots, assuming they let me (3 are listed as "future"). 

 

https://www.copart.com/lot/40717527 (future)

 

https://www.copart.com/lot/40677657 (future)

 

https://www.copart.com/lot/40528167 (Dec 8)

 

https://www.copart.com/lot/42726717 (future)

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I'm going to check out these 4 lots, assuming they let me (3 are listed as "future").

 

To inspect the cars you have to first register on the Copart website. You will have to provide them with you user number at the gate.

 

As for the ones marked future, those are still in process where the insurors don't have the titles from the state yet. Those cars and anything inside them technically still belong to their owners so they can't be inspected other than looking at them from the outside.

 

The black Miata is confusing, it says no keys, but it looks like there are keys in it. The 911s bothered me because the computer is under the driver seat so its guaranteed to have gotten wet but the Boxster ECU is mounted up high on the firewall so it should be ok.

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Went out there today. What an operation. Talked to the owner who said no new cars are coming in. Approximately 300 are going out every day round the clock.

 

I looked at a few cars, topped off by this 2013 911 Carrera 2S manual with a current bid of $14,700. Note the water line on the side. But I opened it up, checked in fuse boxes, under carpets, and under the rear seat and can see absolutely no sign of water entry into the cabin at all. No smell and not a trace of sand or dirt even in deep crevices and electronic boxes. Is it possible the cabin stayed dry with water that high?! Dirty water clearly splashed up onto the engine as there's sand/dirt in many places in the engine bay. But I reached into the throttle body and felt no wetness or grit. Unfortunately, there's no dipstick to check on these, so I have no idea how to see if water's entered the engine. The conservative side of me says, "Walk away." The always-wanted-a-manual-911 side of me says, "Get some." Of course the auction is still live, so I'm guessing it will go for a lot more than that. Any thoughts? Advice? 

 

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Look at the rear wheel, seems the sediment line doesn't even reach the hub. I believe the actual water line is lower than pictured.

Also, there's an additional photo on copart.com that shows a similar situation on the front wheel.

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The conservative side of me says, "Walk away." The always-wanted-a-manual-911 side of me says, "Get some." Of course the auction is still live, so I'm guessing it will go for a lot more than that. Any thoughts? Advice? 

 

 

 

 

 

Go for it! You have seen it in person, which most people won't. I've been looking at potential project Miatas and gone through the auction process. The "live" auction lasts less than a minute, and in some cases about 10 seconds. I saw an infiniti G20 go yesterday for $35.

 

BTW If you want to spend more than $1000 on an auction with copart, you have to increase your buying power by giving them a deposit or becoming a premium member.

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Any thoughts? Advice?

 

Stay away.  Can you afford the maintenance of a hot German?  Even if the car had little damage today, you still have to tag, insure, and maintain it..  you won't be able to easily flip it because of the flooded title and whatnot, so that's not such a great idea either.

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I often think to myself:

 

"Self, it would be nice to race a Porsche Cup car...."

 

Then I realize that *even if it were free* that the maintenance schedule between the gearbox and engine would eat my lunch...not to mention the tires....so, that's why I race stock cars...the gearbox maintenance cost will buy you a nice GTA/ASA car...ponder on that for a moment....

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You guys and your solid logic are killing that 18-year-old inside of me. Well, that and the fact that when I got home last night, there were 2 doctor bills in the mailbox awaiting me. Back to reality. 

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Fwiw, my E46 was flooded, but it runs fine right now after replacing all fluids. I did disconnect the battery before flooding, so that may have helped prevent electrical shorting. You can see how much water got inside by looking at the muddy water stains. Standing water came from the carpet when squeezed while I was ripping it out.

 

TL;DR: flood car may be fine. Just thoroughly inspect it.

 

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 I'm guessing it will go for a lot more than that. Any thoughts? Advice?

 

I would expect that one to go up quite a bit. Also, as a "consumer member" you will have to pay an additional 15% fee to Copart, just another expense to factor in to the equation.  

 

My thoughts are that having a special car can be a very emotionally satisfying thing, but I have to put up a firewall to keep that emotion out of the business of buying a car. I've come to this:

1. Honestly assess the value of the car, to myself if I want to keep it, or to the used car market if I want to try to flip it.

2. Factor in risk and estimate how much time and money it will cost to repair it and make it legal, or how much can be recovered by parting it out.

3. Figure out my Do-Not-Exceed bid price for that car.

4. Sleep on it, and if I agree with my decision in the morning, stick with it.

5. Don't get swept up in the excitement of the auction, when the bidding goes over my Do-Not-Exceed limit, it's gone.

 

I'd like to here if anyone has some additions.

 

Also, since I don't need another car, this is just something for fun, I'm not going to get myself in a position where I can't just walk away from it. For me that's around $1000, so no Porsches for me. 

 

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Something on the copart site messed up and won't let me bid.

 

I watched a car I wanted go for $70 and was helpless to bid on it. 

 

Did it have a Certificate of Title? As "consumer members" we can only bid on Salvage and Non-repairable titled vehicles.

 

I saw one go for $40 yesterday. At that price, if the gas gauge got to empty, the car would be totaled.

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