What Is a Salvage Title Car?

salvage car title

A great price for a used vehicle may sound like something too good to be true and it very well may be. If you hear or see the words “salvage title car” this may be the reason. A salvage title is the brand given to a vehicle by an insurance company if damages to a vehicle exceed the car’s value. This warning should have you stop in your tracks; at least until you find out if the bargain car is worth it.

A salvage title may not mean the vehicle was damaged in an accident. It could also mean that parts were replaced, or that the car was in a flood. Not all states require a brand stating, “Flood damaged”, some states only require that the title state “salvage”. Some cars may have been damaged in a hailstorm, or was stolen and recovered after the insurance paid it off. The title will be branded as salvage in these cases. A car that was vandalized will also have the title branded as a salvage title.

Whether you should spend money on a car with a salvage title will depend on several factors. How much can you learn about the vehicle’s past? What was damaged and does it affect its safety and driving ability? The price may well be about two thirds of the cost of a car with a clean title.

Before Buying

1. If you are thinking of buying a salvage title car, the first thing you should do is have the car inspected by a reputable mechanic. A body shop will also be able to determine if the frame is bent or otherwise damaged.

2. Buy the car from a good repair shop. If the car you are looking for is being sold by a shop with a good repair record your chances of getting a quality car is better than buying one from a repair shop with a spotty record.

3. If at all possible, obtain the original repair estimate. This is the absolute best way to know exactly was the damages were and the cost of the repair.

Insurance Issues

Salvaged vehicles are insurable; however, if it is involved in an accident the payout will be much lower than for a car with a clean title. This may not stop you from buying the vehicle but it is something to think about when taking out insurance.

Salvage Cars as a Trade-in

If you are thinking of using your salvage title car as a trade-in, think again. Most dealers will not take a vehicle with a salvage title as a trade in. Your only option is to try to sell the car to a private party or a small car lot: Although this will not net much money for your car. Do not try to hide the knowledge that the vehicle has a salvage title. This is car dealer fraud in every sense of the word. A few thousand dollars is not worth a possible jail term.

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