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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I had been looking for a 2010-2012 salvage hatchback for a few weeks, I had 6K to spend and have found alot of value in salvage vehicles. Most people wanted 8k and would go down to 7K, this didnt make as much sense since if I looked hard enough a clean title was around 10K.

I thought about buying my own wrecked car and fixing it myself that way it can be done right. You have to becareful buying a salvage car since car flippers generally want to fix it as cheaply as possible (but can get a good deal if you know what youre doing like using epicvin to find pictures of the damage before it was fixed).

I watch B is for Build on youtube (great channel BTW) and one day he posted this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6xYGcnaGuA

Along with some research it was all I needed to dive headfirst into insurance write of cars.

Looking at the salvage auction I saw this beauty:





Bad auction picture angle makes it look like a mini SUV lol




3rd gen, 2.5L, 8k miles, tons of options, black interior, and white????? :nerd:



My dad went in person to inspect it and said it looked easily fixable, we estimated $2k in parts and paint. So I bid and won it for $4k after fees. I used autobidmaster as my broker since in NM the public cant buy from copart or iaai. I found IAAI to not be as friendly, both copart and autobidmaster have been great to deal with.

Always check the trunk of insurance auction cars, you dont know what youll find (well usually car parts lol):


But not always:


Day 1:

The front end has alot of plastic pieces, probably helps mazda save $$$ and decreases weight. Good for me since it makes rebuilding easier and also makes the accident look that much worse helping to scare bidders away.

Removed the radiator, ac condenser, crash bar, headlights, all the plastic stuff, and intake manifold





Damage is a joke, its all cosmetic having to do with headlight alignment and fender alignment; no structural damage:



The metal is very soft and easy to work with, already getting things unbent (just need parts so I can get everything aligned perfectly).

Day 2:
We removed the rear bumper and looked at the exhaust





Removed the fender to make sure there isnt any structural damage (looks squeaky clean to me):


Pretty happy with our progress for 1 weekend. Need some parts before I can go forward and finish it.
 

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Down here, there are MANY "rebuilt/salvage" title cars. Truth is, many of those are perfectly fine but as a buyer, its hard to trust their work or to be completely honest with what needed to be done. Lot's of shady dealers.

Good for you to document everything and when/if you sell it, the buyer should feel better doing so. While it does appear to be cosmetic, make sure you send it to a laser frame shop to be certain all the critical points measure to factory spec.

If I had access to paint booth and shop, I'd take such a project on myself. Then again, one can buy a flood car and a crash car...swap all drivetrain and electrical over and call it a day. Unfortunately, the moment the car has a "salvage/rebuilt" title, the re-sell price is chopped almost in half. But great deal for a personal driver car!!!

Keep us updated.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Small update:

Got the new intake manifold and radiator on and fired it up. Engine sounds great. We were concerned about this since the plastic intake had pieces missing from the accident (radiator crashed into it), the .01% chance of plastic getting into the engine was .01% too much for comfort.

We also went over alot of the pieces, and ordered a bunch of plastic brackets that were damaged/missing from the front end. It feels alittle like putting humpty dumpty back together again.

What ive ordered so far:
$90 fender
$233 hood
$170 used matching white pearl front bumper (got lucky on this one)
$440 driver airbag
$90 grille
$100 radiator
$100 a/c condenser
$280 intake manifold
$85 radiator support
$90 for a bunch of plastic parts

I should have everything to rebuild the front BUT the passenger headlight. This headlight is giving me a headache :argh 1:

Aftermarket is ~$400 (too much and id rather have OEM anyways), used OEM are anywhere from 400-700, and new is almost 1k........Used halogens lights are a dime a dozen on ebay, the higher trim adaptive xenon lights are also cheaper and easier to find on ebay. Im thinking there just arent that many non-adaptive xenon lights out there. I wonder if the adaptive headlight assembly would plug in and I could disable the adaptive feature? Or maybe use the halogen housing with the HID/ballast from the old light. Probably slim chance, but im getting kind of impatient waiting. I could rebuild it 80% of the way and leave the headlights/bumper off but wouldnt know if everything is aligned well (cosmetically speaking).


@Liquid: Having watched craigslist everyday for weeks before going the auction route, id say I could make $ on craigslist even though its salvaged. But at the end of the day, I researched alot of cars before landing on mazda 3 hatch and would rather keep it for 150-200k miles. As for having a shop look at the alignment, its not needed. Maybe its hard to tell in the pictures but this car took the frontal impact pretty high up (thats why the passenger headlight is so jacked up). Even the crash bar is in good condition. This is one of the reasons why I bid on it.
 

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Yeah, this is pretty cool. I'm interested to see an update and how things are going. Give us an update when you get a moment.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)


Headlight took alot of damage. In case anyone in the future runs into this issue, adaptive HID's will work if you have non-adaptive HID lights. The connector is the same just missing 3 wires, everything seems identical only difference is its aimed slightly higher. I see some plastic dials so I think I can raise the driver headlight to match



This come along was $20 from harbor freight, it has paid for itself multiple times over. On this car it helped to give alittle forward and then downward pull on the area surrounding the headlight.

Outcome of using the come along:





Thats the airbag module. After an airbag deployement the module needs to be either reset or replaced. I also replaced the two front impact sensor as well as the driver airbag. The airbag connector was melted so I replaced the clockspring as well.



The seat belt was locked up. This occurs because seatbelts are apart of the SRS system. In an accident a charge "explodes" and ball bearings are shot out into a "turbine" locking it up. This makes sure you are held in place during an accident. Once this occurs the belt needs to be either repaired (new charge+ball bearings installed) or the whole belt needs to be replaced

At this stage I turned on the car expecting to be almost done, I didnt even think I was being optimistic at the time.....What did I see? Tons of lights on the dash, it was like a Christmas tree :surprise: . ABS, airbag, check engine, traction control, TPMS, you name it and I probably had the light on.

Counting the airbag light flashes and referencing the manual I figured out that the module still had crash data. I sent it in to be reset and clearly that didnt work. Called up LKQ and ordered a salvage airbag module from a car without airbags deployed. 1 light down, a million to go :argh 1:



This $22 scanner from amazon helped me figure out the check engine light. Turns out that the abs module didnt just have a broken casing (which I repaired) it had some internal damage....called up my friends at LKQ and ordered a abs module...$200 and check engine light is off

As the car sits today:



I have been driving it these past few days. Drives like a brand new car (as it should).

To-do list:
1) Paint, hopefully getting it done next week, I found a great shop that uses sikken ($$$) paint
2) ABS light
3) Find a good condition white rear bumper off ebay
4) Couldnt recharge AC refrigerant as it was leaking from the low pressure line on the condenser...really odd since car only has 8k miles
 

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Amazing job man! After this long hiatus I can say that reading your last post was so rewarding. That car is going to end up being completely brand new!
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Amazing job man! After this long hiatus I can say that reading your last post was so rewarding. That car is going to end up being completely brand new!
Thanks man I appreciate it. I had finals, graduation, and my dad had surgery so that definitely slowed progress. Then also alot of time wasted waiting for shipping, and also diagnosing the airbag light issue. Then battled with brakes for a bit, was really hard to get that abs module back in, 1 of the lines didnt want to go in and brakes are under so much pressure they really have to be closed pretty tightly otherwise it leaks. A few of the bumps we ran into.

Today was a pretty good test, drove in total 2.5 hours. Going from my 96 accord to this is interesting to say the least, so much more technology than my honda
 

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Today was a pretty good test, drove in total 2.5 hours. Going from my 96 accord to this is interesting to say the least, so much more technology than my honda
Sounds like you might be leaning towards keeping it now!

Good work so far! As for the condenser leak, did some of the tubing get damaged where it went into the old condenser that was damaged? You may want to replace the accumulator and orifice tube as well, if so equipped.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Sounds like you might be leaning towards keeping it now!

Good work so far! As for the condenser leak, did some of the tubing get damaged where it went into the old condenser that was damaged? You may want to replace the accumulator and orifice tube as well, if so equipped.
Keeping the car has been the objective since day 1. I researched alot of cars before landing on the 2012-2013 (skyactiv) hatch, I never thought I would get a 3rd gen. When I looked I actually almost bought an auction 2012 with ugly (IMO) tan interior. It had 50k miles, damaged fender, both passenger doors, curtain airbag deployed, seat airbag deployed, minor damage to B-pillar. Luckily it sold too high (about the same as the 8k mile 2014 I picked up).

AC lines were not damaged in the accident. We fixed it with a new o-ring. Looking back the cause of the leak was likely the small amount of PAG oil I added to the condenser (right before closing the lines).

Midas scanned the car for free. They had a really nice snap-on OBD2 scanner. Tried resetting ABS but didnt work. Looking up the code, looks like I gotta take it to the dealer to have the replacement DSC module reprogrammed for my car :001_rolleyes:, but at least I know why my ABS light is on.

Dropped it off for paint today! I cant wait to get it back.

Not all good news though, I got a new problem :frown2:, my BSM light is flashing. Randomly I was browsing the TSB sub-forum and found a service bulletin with similar symptoms that matches my build date/VIN. IDK if its forsure the problem but sounds like it. Obviously dealer wont help me but atleast I have an idea of what to do (replace the BSM modules :frown2:).

I also picked up a nail but luckily got it fixed for free from discount tire (great service BTW). My father is starting to think this car is cursed, hopefully it proves him wrong



Will update with pics when I get it back from the body shop
 

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Pretty happy this build is actually progressing and being updated. When I found it hidden in my bookmarks with no update I thought it was forgotten.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Pretty happy this build is actually progressing and being updated. When I found it hidden in my bookmarks with no update I thought it was forgotten.
Oh yeah its progressing all right :smile2:, if things would stop breaking I could be done.

To-do list:
1) ABS programming
2) Rear bumper cover
3) Fix our new BSM problem :001_rolleyes:

Unless more problems pop up, the car is almost done
 

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Discussion Starter #16


First upgrade haha

Car came back from paint, I think they did a great job.....they took the panels off and sprayed both sides then put it back on and blended the paint as well as fixed the passenger door (was pushed out alittle by the fender in the accident). Color matches perfectly. They didnt attached the top grille piece since I didnt have it attached when I took it in (missing some clips plus didnt want to keep putting it on and off, it uses plastic tabs to attach)

Alittle problem:



Hours later:







I doubt it matters but to be cautious ill give it a few days to "cure" before I take it through the car wash (touchless)

Taking it to the dealer Monday to have the DSC module programmed, hopefully they'll be nice enough to scan my "BSM off" error thats blinking as well. Ordered 1 BSM module off ebay, im pretty sure I have the issue that mazda calls "inadequate BSM control module control logic" aka change modules for newer ones (that have newer software). If I can figure out BSM issue and find a nice used bumper ill be done
 

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Looking good, Ali.

I'd be interested in your final assessment of the economics of this project when it's all done. That is, total investment cost vs cost to buy equivalent (non-salvaged) vs ultimate resale value.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Looking good, Ali.

I'd be interested in your final assessment of the economics of this project when it's all done. That is, total investment cost vs cost to buy equivalent (non-salvaged) vs ultimate resale value.
KBB values a clean title version of this car as 16,700 in fair condition and 18,500 in excellent condition. Someone else might have a better idea of how much its worth on craigslist with a clean title, I didnt really look in that range.

This 6K car became a 7.7K (including the rest of the parts needed barring any MORE :nerd: surprises). I ran into quite a few roadblocks and surprises on the way that cost $$$ and time. Still very happy with this deal especially when I consider this was my first auction car, and we are not professionals afterall.

On craigslist id confidently price this at 10k firm maybe alittle more, its hard to give a proper evaluation since many rebuilt cars are not done properly. I know since I looked for a mazda 3 for weeks (everyday within 6 hours of my location). Many sellers I encountered were sketchy and not forthcoming about the damage/repairs (luckily I could see the car pre-repaired thanks to epicvin). If I ever decided to sell it id proudly show them all my photos, im confident in what we did, we didnt cut any corners. The going rate for a 2012-2013 M3 hatch (salvage) with ~40-60k miles is 7k+ (what I at first was trying to get for 6k).

Some people might feel self conscious about having a wrecked car, not me im very proud of it. My father and I made a great team and it was alot of fun (and stressful at times). I dont think we could have got this done without each other. Alot of the work got done before my dads aortic valve replacement surgery but even post surgery he helped alot, I owe him a few beers thats for sure :beerchug 1:
 

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I'm a fan...it's not all about moolah spent. The journey, the roller coaster ride, the sense of conquering mountains & triumph....PRICELESS!!!!
Please keep all of us updated.
Great job, brother!!!!:)
 
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