What Is a Salvage-Title Vehicle?

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,315
edited September 2017 in Editorial
What Is a Salvage-Title Vehicle?

Buying a vehicle with a salvage title can be a bit of a gamble, but such cars can be an inexpensive alternative for shoppers on a budget.

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  • dalbeedalbee Member Posts: 1
    Most salvage cars are not repaired by a profesional repair vacility, but buy unliscensed car dealers who are patching these cars together for a quick buck, and selling them to unsuspecting buyers as their personal cars. I am told that salvaged cars comeing from outside of California, are registered in California with a clean title. A auto check report should be run to uncover these cars.

    Doug Albee
  • esmieesmie Member Posts: 1
    i rather drive a 2013 salvaged than a 2003 model sold by a dealer at a top dollar, it is obvious this whole ad is fabricated by a dealer. a salvaged car can be a great deal, i personally drive an excellent salvaged car. and all it took was a good research as the one i found at msn.money type in will the recession total your car, along with an inspection by a local shop, i had my husband done the inspection himself. also the car show in the ad is called a non repairable and it is stamp on the title, that is a big dealer lie.. god bless and good luck on your search.
  • hemiguy350hemiguy350 Member Posts: 1
    edited February 2015
    I have driven salvage/rebuilt title cars for over 15 years and have been very satisfied. I purchased mine from Feretti Motors in PA and have had good luck with them. If you can pay any less than 20-30% from what a clean title car goes for you should be in good shape.
  • cmhj2000cmhj2000 Member Posts: 381
    Better this then being ripped off by a dealer for his so called late model gem.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    On an older car that has little value, it doesn't take much with todays body shop prices to total a car.

    A minor collision that does little damage can create a perfectly good car that will carry a branded title.

    On the other hand, I wouldn't touch a late model otherwise nice car with a salvage title.

    I know of a guy whose car was totaled when his car was stolen and then recovered with most of the interior and some other parts missing. His insurance company paid him off and then offered the car back to him at the salvage price. He bought it, found the missing seats etc in a wrecking yard and basically brought the car back to it's original condition.

    He now has a car with a branded title. When he finally sells it it's value will be affected and there will be those people who wouldn't touch it but he does have before and after photos and a story to tell.

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    It really pays to know the history of the damage before you buy a salvage title vehicle. It could be an okay purchase, but the more you know, the better off you'll be. On some cars, like exotics, a salvage title is the kiss of death and the car is basically unsaleable.
  • texasestexases Member Posts: 10,540
    Why doesn't the article address the HUGE impact on value? Rule of thumb is a 50% discount. I'd rather buy an older or cheaper used car without the many problems posed by a salvage title.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    The older the car gets and the lesser the car the less a Salvage Title will affect it's value.

    I wouldn't buy one unless it were something older and not worth a lot and only then If I knew the circumstances surrounding the branded title. I would want to see photos etc.
  • trietleytrietley Member Posts: 1
    If you can't buy sell or reg a salvaged car then how can you do what it says above I have a salvaged 1999 saturn which is in great shape and completely drivable but they salved it because the car is not worth what it costs to fix .... the ins. company gave me the book price because it was in such good condition right now it is reg and ins.but now needs to be inspected which it will pass So I'm a bit confused it you can't register it ?? so what should I do Thanks
  • aprilcoaprilco Member Posts: 1
    edited September 2015
    I have two salvage cars : one I purchased from copart.com and another from bidndrive.com. I fixed them, passed inscpection and got rebuilt title. I would buy a salvage car again.
  • benrobitaillebenrobitaille Member Posts: 1
    Does Salvage Title affect the Manufacturers warranty?
  • kyfdxkyfdx Moderator Posts: 227,792

    Does Salvage Title affect the Manufacturers warranty?

    Usually, it eliminates the warranty.

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  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Yep, that's the end of your warranty. And if your salvaged-but-now-fixed-up car gets totaled again, you aren't going to get very much for it from insurance.

    The rule is: "Whatever gets you into a car cheap, is going to haunt you when you sell it".

  • rnratchet14rnratchet14 Member Posts: 1
    My car was totaled 2 years ago, but I've been driving it with no problems. I now want to GIFT it to a friend. I never got a salvage title. Do I need to do that to gift this car, or can I just sign the original title over to him? He's aware that it was totaled.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Probably when he goes to DMV to get a title in his name, it will be stamped Salvage.
  • maryg5856maryg5856 Member Posts: 1
    edited September 2016
    It will depend on the actual cause of the title being issued, but obviously a salvage car is likely to be significantly less valuable that just a damaged car.
    A salvage car is a car that has been declared by an insurance agency as a total loss. Most often, these are cars that have suffered damage to a degree in which that the owner’s insurance company decided that it would be too expensive to fix the car because the overall value of the car is close to being met or even exceeded by the costs of the repairs. Insurers will write off, or “total” a car in a situation like this, and will often offer a settlement to the car’s owner in exchange for taking the wrecked car off their hands.

    This, however, does not mean that the car has been completely wrecked, as in some cases even relatively minor damage may be considered to be too expensive to fix in a lower value car. In other cases, however, a car can be declared a total loss if it has been stolen and has gone unrecovered for a specific period of time.

    Cars in any of these circumstances become property of the insurance company and are reclassified as salvage. This means the car has to be issued a new title that lists its status as a salvage vehicle under state law. Insurers then take these salvage cars that they now own and attempt to sell them off to the highest bidder at a used car auction.

    While each state has different regulations, there are several aspects in common. The most important one is that you cannot get a car with a salvage title back on the road without repairing it first. This means that if you do buy a damaged salvage car at auction, you can’t drive it until it’s rebuilt to the point where your state will let it back on the road once more. For most people, this may seem like a bad deal.

    However, there are some advantages to buying and then rebuilding a salvage vehicle. First and foremost: buying a salvage car at auction can be incredibly inexpensive, as insurers just want the car out of their possession and are little interested in recovering their costs.

    Additionally, if you are going to restore the car yourself or otherwise absorb the labor costs, it will be much less expensive to repair the vehicle than it would have otherwise been. This makes it a solid investment if you want your own reasonably-priced used car as a daily driver or if you own a used car dealership and you’re planning to sell rebuilt salvage vehicles to customers.

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  • ls40096ls40096 Member Posts: 1
    Buying cars with salvage/R titles are the best savings you will ever experience in your life because the insurance companies don't process repairs much anymore. What happens today is most cars in accidents have minimal damage but are issued salvage titles and sold by the insurance companies. For example, a car that was bumped in the rear at 5 mph, will have damage to the support, cover and possible a scratch on the rail. This is minimal damage but the insurance company will issue a salvage title rather than send that car to a body shop for it to sit there while the shop finds usually something else days later while charging the insurer even more money for time. It's no longer worth it for the insurer to staff employees to do this either. These cars are sold globally and command far more return. What this means to the consumer is 90% of these cars have minimal damage, are repaired and the consumer can purchase for thousands less than retail.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Nothing wrong with buying a car on a salvage title, especially if you have some information as to what the damage was initially (presuming you are buying the car already fixed up). The cause of the salvage dictates the risk involved. For a theft, maybe not much risk at all--for a flood, lots of risk.

    Insurance companies will usually bail on a repair once the cost estimate hits about 60% or so of Fair Market Value. So, a car worth $10,000 on the open market is damaged to an estimate of $6000, it's definitely going to be salvage title. Maybe even $5000 in damages.

    One thing to keep in mind: "Whatever gets you into a car cheaply when you buy it, will come back to haunt you when you try to sell it".

    So, IMO, buying a salvage car is best left to owners who intend to drive it for a considerable length of time.
  • sharpclassicssharpclassics Member Posts: 1
    It took a lot of research to find all kinds of damage car could be having. All classic car buyers need to aware of the damage you mentions so that they won't fall in the hands of frauds.
  • channelpluschannelplus Member Posts: 1
    your part of capitalism ! your effective super negative on selling salvages/ rebuilds. for your information, there is no any salvage/ rebuild titles all across the globe, even with accidents. customers have eyes to check out and test. insurance not effect also. salvage branded cars/ motorcycles / boats in USA all are because attracting people more to buy new cars and pay full insurances. there are many salvage titles with very minor accidents or even no accident just with minor mechanical problems, that sellers because this kind of articles are selling their vehicles lower price than normal.
  • aej6102aej6102 Member Posts: 1
    It really depends on what kind of damage happened to the car. My car was sadly just marked as totaled due to a crash that damaged many external parts (bumpers, doors, etc) but it was completely driveable aside from one headlight. I really hope it ends up being rebuilt rather than wasted.
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