Rebuild of an insurance auction 2012 Silverado 1500

January 2020

Full write-up below the pictures.




I've always wanted to rebuild a wrecked car. Something about the thought of buying a vehicle at half or a third of the normal price appeals to my cheap nature. As for why I chose to rebuild this particular vehicle, a good friend of mine in college had a Silverado in this color and I always liked it. Simple as that.

Brief summary of the restoration:

After deciding on the exact model and year Silverado I wanted, I used (allows you to buy insurance auction cars without a dealer's license) to find one near me and then pulled the trigger. A few days later it rolled off the trailer and into our shop.

I certainly had my work cut out for me: the Silverado I bought had been in a major accident and sustained substantial damage to the front end. That meant I had two huge repairs to make to get it road worthy: one, replace all the airbags in the cabin, and two, rebuild the smashed front end.

What the cabin looked like pre-repair

I figured that putting the cabin back right would be easier than the front end work so I decided to start there. After searching the internet a bit, I was able to find new airbags to replace the old activated ones. Once they came in, I got to work installing them. It was tedious at times but after a couple weeks, the airbags had been installed and the cabin looked new again.

Cabin post repair

The front end damage is where it got hairy. Because of the extent of the damage, I had to buy a new hood, new bumper, new bumper support, new fender, miscellaneous engine bay parts, AND paint all of the exterior parts to match the existing silver.

While waiting for the new parts to arrive, I started the process of removing all of the damaged parts from the truck. After getting the front end down to undamaged metal, I began to install the new parts. This is where I discovered just how hard it is to put things right again after a serious accident. No matter how much I tried, the hood wouldn't sit completely flush, the door jam gaps were off just a bit, and the new paint didn't quite match the old. Don't get me wrong, the truck looked good from 10 feet, but the little details I just couldn't get quite right. Eventually, I gave up and simply accepted the truck's condition for what it was.

What the front looked like post repair

How much?

Salvage auction price: $5,789

Delivery: $625.21

Parts: ~$2,500 (This was my first project so I didn't keep great records)

Grand total: $8,914.21

How long?

Truck delivered: 10/25/19 

Truck sold: 2/8/20

Total time: 107 days (.293 years)

Where is it now?

After completing it, I lost interest in it and decided to sell it. It ended up selling for $9,698 on Facebook Marketplace.

Final thoughts:

If you peruse my other projects, you'll notice I haven't done another insurance rebuild. In my opinion, it's just not worth the time and money to rebuild a wrecked vehicle. In addition, it never goes back completely right. If you are at all OCD about the way things look, you will be bothered by all the little issues that pop up when a car has sustained substantial damage, even after major repairs. In my case, the hood didn't close just right, the door jam was off a little, etc. Small stuff, but it's the kind of stuff that gets on your nerves.

Helpful resources:

Nothing super surprising here. Just used the usual eBay, Amazon, and Chevy dealer sites for parts.

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