What is Salvage Title?

Wondering what salvage title is and what it means for your car? Learn more about salvage title and what your options are.

Navigating the complexities of car ownership can be challenging, especially when it comes to understanding the various types of car titles. One term that often causes confusion is “salvage title.” This blog post will explore what a salvage title is, its implications for car owners, and key considerations for those looking to buy or sell a vehicle with such a designation.

What Does Salvage Title Mean?

A salvage title is a form of vehicle title branding, which denotes that a car has suffered significant damage in the past, usually from an accident, flood, or other events, and has been deemed a total loss by an insurance company. This label is important because it alerts potential buyers or owners to the car’s history of substantial damage.

How Does a Car Get a Salvage Title?

Typically, a car receives a salvage title when the cost of repairing the vehicle exceeds a certain percentage of its value before the damage occurred.

This percentage varies by state, but it often ranges between 60% and 90%. For instance, if a car is worth $10,000 and sustains damages that would cost $7,000 to repair, it may be considered a total loss and receive a salvage title, depending on the state’s threshold.

The Implications of a Salvage Title

Owning a car with a salvage title has several implications:

  1. Value Depreciation: Salvage-titled vehicles are generally worth less than their clean-titled counterparts due to their history of significant damage.
  2. Insurance Challenges: Many insurance companies are hesitant to offer comprehensive or collision coverage for salvage-titled cars, limiting owners to liability coverage in most cases.
  3. Safety Concerns: Since these vehicles have been significantly damaged in the past, there might be underlying safety issues not apparent during a standard inspection.
  4. Resale Complications: Selling a salvage-titled car can be challenging, as potential buyers often view them with skepticism due to their history.

Can I Buy a Salvage Title Car?

If you’re considering purchasing a salvage-titled car, it’s essential to take the following steps:

  1. Understand the Damage History: Request detailed information about the extent and nature of the damage and repairs.
  2. Get a Professional Inspection: Hire a qualified mechanic to thoroughly inspect the vehicle to ensure its safety and functionality.
  3. Consider Future Resale: Be aware that you may face challenges when reselling the vehicle due to its salvage history.
  4. Check Insurance Availability: Before purchasing, confirm with insurance providers that you can obtain at least liability coverage for the vehicle.

Can I Sell a Car with a Salvage Title?

Yes, it is possible to sell a salvage-titled car. Clearly disclose the title status to potential buyers and be prepared for possibly lower offers due to the car’s history. Providing detailed repair records and a recent vehicle inspection report can help in establishing trust with potential buyers.

How Do You Sell a Salvage Title Car?

The primary way to sell a car with salvage title is to an auto salvage yard. These yards specialize in buying cars for salvage, including cars that are already deemed wrecked.

Can I Trade In a Salvage Title Car?

Yes, you can trade in a car with salvage title when buying a new vehicle. Note that your vehicle will received a lower price given its title status, so keep that in mind when trading in your car.

Can You Get a Title Loan with a Salvage Title?

Yes, it is possible to get a title loan for a vehicle with salvage title, however this will ultimately depend on whether the lender wants to take the risk of leveraging your car.

Can I Convert a Salvage Title to a Rebuilt Title?

In many regions, a salvage-titled vehicle can be repaired and inspected to obtain a rebuilt title, indicating that the car has been restored to a roadworthy condition. This process typically involves:

  1. Repairing the Vehicle: Ensuring that all necessary repairs are completed to make the car safe and operational.
  2. Undergoing Inspection: Having the vehicle inspected by a state-designated authority to confirm that it meets safety standards.
  3. Applying for a Rebuilt Title: Submitting the necessary paperwork and passing inspection to change the title status from salvage to rebuilt.

Is it safe to drive a car with a salvage title?

It can be, but it’s crucial to ensure that the vehicle has been properly repaired and inspected for safety.

Can I get full insurance coverage on a salvage-titled car?

It’s rare to insure a car with salvage title, as most insurers only offer limited liability coverage for such vehicles.

Are salvage title cars always cheaper?

Yes, they are typically less expensive due to their history, but ensure you consider repair and insurance costs before buying a salvage title car.


In conclusion, understanding what a salvage title is and its implications is crucial for anyone looking to buy or sell a car with this designation. While there are challenges associated with salvage-titled vehicles, informed decisions and proper steps can mitigate these issues, whether you’re a buyer seeking a deal or a seller trying to find a new home for a rebuilt car.

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