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Thread: Toyota Avalon salvage rebuild or part out?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    7

    Default Toyota Avalon salvage rebuild or part out?

    Newbie needs help. Bought salvage 2008 Avalon (80k miles) to rebuild and use as primary car. Made big mistake and bid on car without inspecting it. After taking out damaged parts (condenser,radiator, fuse box, air box, etc.) I see not only core support to replace (I expected) but also damage to left apron panel and associated upper support rail. I donít see any damage to tower and the right front end appears undamaged. See pics of original damage and damage to left portion of core support and left apron/rail. I measured the upper rail and it is about 1/4Ē out of alignment from tower to rail on undamaged side. Also the engine seems untouched though I havenít attempted start it given destroyed fuse box and radiator.
    Iíd like advice on options and opinions on my plan to:
    1) drill out and replace left portion of radiator support. Middle and right hand portion of supports seems uneffected and thought I might be able to drill out left damaged part. Is this advisable or feasible?
    2) I hope to be able to cut out (with sawzall) the damaged left apron panel and weld in a replacement.
    3) It appears the apron is attached to top rail support via spot welds. So Iíd like to separate rail from apron and hammer it back to align with right rail measuring from opposite tower. ( not sure how to measure proper height of rail ).
    Note my experience working on cars is limited to minor mechanical repairs and I have zero experience doing body work or welding. But I would like to give it a go based on YouTube videos reviewed.
    Iíve already sunk $2k and donít want to waste more money on a futile effort. One body shop told me they would need to replace entire front (tower,apron,core support) but donít have measuring equipment to do job, the other shop wouldnít provide estimate claiming they donít want liabilty since they wonít be doing complete repair. Iím also concerned the NJ DMV inspection would not issue a rebuild title if it isnít repaired by an accredited autobody shop.
    So if a cost-effective rebuild plan possible Iíd take my losses and part the car out.
    Appreciate any advice and opinions.

  2. #2
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    Nov 2005
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    Try to measure in order to make sure there is no damage behind the front suspension. If there is damage then you should probably take it somewhere that can put it on a rack and pull it back to the proper position.

    Make a list of parts and price them so you know your costs and also see what the book value is on the car once it's repaired. It's better to take the loss now rather than put in all that time and effort and end up in the hole.

    Look for used parts. You may be able to find a car hit on the opposite side or in the rear and have it cut to order. We have a list of salvage yards in our area that we check with when needed.

    If you're cutting/sawing and welding in new metal be sure that you have it aligned properly. If you don't it can make a bad looking repair or make a lot more work as you start putting things back together.

  3. #3
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    Nov 2005
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    Default Flem...

    Two grand already on a 2008 is a tough nut. The miles and car are in your favor but you repair costs are so unknown.

    First thing you need to do is find out what NJ DMV wants to put the car back on the road. What do they expect you to provide them with?

    Our state DOES allow citizens to rebuild their own cars. BUT - BUT you better have a paper trail, VIN numbers, parts lists and prices paid. They want to know WHERE the parts came from from a theft standpoint.

    If NJ does not allow you to do it you need to cozy up with a dealer or garage that does do it and run it under them IF YOU so happen to have such a buddy or shop that will work with you.

    If you got the car from an auction and it was totaled by an insurance company then the estimate of damages papers should be handy. Get them.

    DO NOT hack away at this car at this point because you may want to sell it the way you bought it.

    See if you can get it to run. You can most likely run it through the same auction you bought it from or look up COPART auctions in your area and sell through them. You can set a minimum bid price and there are fees by doing so but it is a way out.

    That car might be an Avalon but many unibody parts are same as Camry so check that out. Also, ask around for local shops that specialize in Toyota as they might want to buy the car from you. I mean, the drivetrain in good running condition is at $1500 or more.

    You can get money back just NO hasty decisions. Keep us posted.

    Henry

  4. #4
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    Dec 2018
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    Default

    Many thanks for both your advice. Car's KBB value is roughly $5-6k though I've seen Avalons in my area selling at dealers for $8-9k with higher mileage. Craigslist has them for $5-7 with +120k. The project car is in good-excellent condition other than the front damage. If I go ahead with rebuild I was planning on buying a parts car (~$1-1.5k) and already have my eye on a couple of high mileage salvage prospects being auctioned soon. However if I can fix it properly (and safely) I have no intentions of selling it and (if deemed safe) may give it to my daughter when her car needs replacing. NJ DMV guidelines indicate they want VIN paper trail of parts and pictures of work done including inspection but don't specify they require accredited auto body work to give rebuild title. So if I can keep additional cost for parts (including parts car) to less than $2k and do all the labor myself, I'd be happy not just for the car but maybe more so for the satisfaction. (I'm recently retired and looking to keep challenged and busy).
    Bottom line if I understand your feedback correctly the critical factor to rebuild (at my cost target) is whether the frame needs professional pulling, measurements, and realignment? So my question is: can I DIY the critical measurements manually with sufficient reliability to chance buying a parts car and attempting all body repairs (replacing core support and apron, plus fix top rail)?

    If you both think this rebuild has is a low probability of success given my inexperience and the complexity of the needed repairs, I'll either part out the car or reassemble with original damaged parts and auction it back to copart.
    Again many thanks for your generous help.

  5. #5
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    Nov 2005
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    If the alignment is damaged behind the suspension it will probably be difficult to get it right without the proper pulling equipment but you could give it a try. It usually takes something like a pull post and floor anchors at a minimum but even then getting the proper alignment can be tricky.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    273

    Default Hold On

    Like Henry said and also keep checking around for a small shop who has a frame machine who would work with you to measure,pull and square up the unibody for a reasonable price. Let them install the weld in parts and you finish the bolt on parts. I would make sure the motor is good. Good luck

  7. #7
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    Mar 2007
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    Avalaon is an expensive fix, the parts are expensive, sometimes hard to find...

    that is a big hit, extensive repairs, major operations.

    the winter has only started, there will be many easy fixes yo buy at auctions..

    get rid of this car for parts, find an easier fix..

  8. #8
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    Nov 2005
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    lower Michigan
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tommie.b View Post
    Like Henry said and also keep checking around for a small shop who has a frame machine who would work with you to measure,pull and square up the unibody for a reasonable price. Let them install the weld in parts and you finish the bolt on parts. I would make sure the motor is good. Good luck
    I agree with Tommie B. One of the problems with a novice doing a job with that much damage is it'will be a multi pronged approach that should all be done basically in the same place at the same time. That car NEEDS to be put on a frame rack and have proper documentation of what the frame measurements need to be. ALL the weld on damaged parts need to be pulled back to close to where they should be BEFORE any damaged weld on parts are cut off for replacement. All the replacement parts that are weld on and bolt on need to be physically on hand preferably while it's still on the frame rack. You need the replacement parts on hand to temporarily put on the car to make sure all parts properly align up.

    I have done many dozens of cars with that kind of damage and the damage is always worse than a novice thinks it's going to be. The damage you can see is not a problem, it's the damages you can't see that is going to be the problems.

    That is not a job for novice with limited equipment and practically no experience in what to look for and no knowledge of the pitfalls to avoid.

    People are always overly optimistic buying a car like that thinking is going to be an "easy fix" and they will save thousands of dollars fixing the car themselves. In most cases they would be money ahead to go buy a nice car that was never wrecked right from the start.

    I'm not saying it can't be done but it IS going to be a learning experience you won't soon forget.

    Check close fo hairline cracks in the transmission case.

    Also keep in mind there is a reason why the insurance company totalled that car (to fix it right - cost of repairs exceed the value of the vehicle). With the emphasis on "fix the car right".

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    7

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    Ok got the message. This is not a diy project for a newbie. Iíll keep looking for a body shop willing to do the necessary body measures and repair and let me do the balance at my target price. Maybe for the experience Iíll see if I can a junkyard radiator and fusebox and see if I can get the engine started and the car to run. After that Iíll sell the car or its parts to recoup some of my losses. My dissapointment is more than offset by what Iíve learned.
    Many thanks to all for your help.
    Ill keep posting on this as things evolve.

  10. #10
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    Aug 2013
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    Boring Oregon
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    Before you go spend any money on a radiator, I would work on firing it up first. It can run for a minute dry and nothing bad will happen so long as you have oil pressure. Or you could just duct tape a hose onto the top radiator hose and turn it on, it will make a mess, but it will push water thru the engine.

    Then you can start it and if it spews steam, well, your engine is cracked.

    Do as much as you can without spending even another $10. Jury rig the fusebox and radiator first, prove the engine runs well, then you can sell a good running engine as parts or know that not only is the body torqued, but the engine is bad too and it becomes scrap metal.

  11. #11
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    Dec 2008
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    Bay Area, California
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    Reminds me of people who have watched shows about flipping a house after buying and major repairs. By the time they are done they just might make a little profit or only break even. Ask them if they would do it again and most would answer a definite no. Oh, there is more rot behind the wall than we thought......

  12. #12
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    Dec 2018
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    The fuse box was cracked up pretty bad and I took it apart and out of way to explore apron damage. What are critical fuse box functions to jury rig to start the engine? There are multiple fuses for Starter system; fuel injection system; immobilizer system; fuel pump; I presume are all necessary to start engine. Besides these any other I need to ensure are connected before attempting startup? The engine oil is pretty clean and full and no leaks. Some transmission fluid leaked when removing damaged radiator but no apparent leaking. There is no transmission dipstick and I haven't attempted to check for fluid levels yet. Any other tips before starting engine?
    many thanks.

  13. #13
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    Nov 2005
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    Default ESCAPE PLAN!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by flem View Post
    The fuse box was cracked up pretty bad and I took it apart and out of way to explore apron damage. What are critical fuse box functions to jury rig to start the engine? There are multiple fuses for Starter system; fuel injection system; immobilizer system; fuel pump; I presume are all necessary to start engine. Besides these any other I need to ensure are connected before attempting startup? The engine oil is pretty clean and full and no leaks. Some transmission fluid leaked when removing damaged radiator but no apparent leaking. There is no transmission dipstick and I haven't attempted to check for fluid levels yet. Any other tips before starting engine?
    many thanks.
    WARNING: You better know what and what NOT to connect in the wiring harness. Make sure the battery is DISCONNECTED when playing with the wires.

    When you think you have it right, only TOUCH the battery cable to the battery while you or someone else can see and touch the corrected wires. FEEL for heat and LOOK FOR SIGNS OF SMOKE and get that battery cable away - FAR AWAY!

    You CAN smoke that complete harness in less than a heartbeat. Personally, I would NOT mess with the wiring if you are not sure of what to do. GET SOME HELP from someone who knows what to do.

    ALSO: If the car is indoors, push it outside to avoid burning down the structure it might be in.

    SERIOUSLY the car can be in flames in under a minute.

    Please, do not take chances!

    Henry

  14. #14
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    lower Michigan
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    From a logical standpoint I don't see any reason to have to hear the engine run, it was obviously running when the car was wrecked and I see no reason why that would have changed up to now.

    If you took the radiator out then you have two open ended transmission lines. If you feel a need to have to hear the engine run then run a jumper hose to the two transmission lines. If not, when you fire up that engine you're going to have transmission fluid getting blown out under pressure.

    If there is no suspension damage on the front drivers side then the transmission should be fine also.

  15. #15
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    Dec 2018
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    After looking over the remaining wiring and the shredded remains of the fusebox (and given Henryís warnings), I wonít bother attempting a startup. Probably not worth risk.
    Carbrain has offered me $800 to tow away my mistake. Iím hoping to do better trying to sell the parts. All four doors, the right fender, rocker panels, and rear of vehicle are in excellent condition as is the interior. Thereís of course the engine, transmission, and undamaged components to offer up in addition to the frame for scrap.
    Wonder if any have thoughts on dissembly (which I get a strange satisfaction) and trouble of selling off parts as opposed to getting it back to copart for auction or Craigslist? Frankly the trouble of towing vehicle ($250) and Copart fees donít appeal to me. Also Iím not comfortable hiding the structural issues to an another victim. Would prefer selling it whole as a parts car on Craigslist or selling parts peace meal until I recoup my $2k.
    Anyoneís previous experience with this would be welcomed.

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