Should I Buy A Car With A Salvage Title?

April 21, 2017

car accident salvage title

Buying a car with a salvage title can be risky business. The first thing to understand is what a salvage title is and how it affects you and your vehicle.

What does a salvage title mean?

A salvage title is applied to your vehicle when your car is involved in an accident that declares the damages to be more than the value of the vehicle. This could be due to something basic, like cosmetic damage, or something extreme, like flooding or fire. Your insurance company will label the car a “total loss,” which gets us the commonly used phrase, “my car is totaled!"

The insurance provider will take the vehicle and, occasionally, have the vehicle rebuilt or fixed. Once the car is rebuilt, it is given a “salvage title.”

Buying or selling with a salvage title.

It’s important to understand what was “totaled” when the vehicle was damaged. Cosmetic damages can be expensive and easily total a car. However, costly internal damages can have lasting effects on a vehicle and can make it expensive in the long run.

Salvage titles are usually not valued online and most likely won’t be accepted for trade-ins. If you’re looking to sell the car, a private sale is your best option. This, therefore, makes a salvage titled car difficult to sell, which could deter many from making the purchase in the first place.

It’s a very risky bet to purchase a vehicle with a salvage title because of the many unknown variables, many of which won’t be discovered until the vehicle is in your possession.

salvage title repairpal

Use caution when purchasing a car with a salvage title due to the many problems that could arise and the difficult resell associated. When dealing with a private sale, always be extremely cautious when purchasing and ensure the vehicle does not have a salvage title associated with it. Keywords to look for in the title include: rebuilt, totaled, salvage, reconditioned or warranty voided or returned.


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Our goal is to establish an auto repair process that is less stressful and much more trustworthy for everyone involved. Our website hosts a car repair Estimator that gets rid of that "ripped-off" feeling. We also provide matches to local Certified shops that are guaranteed to do repairs with quality parts, a fair price, and a trained, awesome staff.

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About the Author

Kimberlea Buczeke is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

2 User Comments

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By , May 07, 2017
A used car w/ a salvage title can be a very good deal, especially if you plan to drive it until the wheels come off. Just try not to spend too much in case things go wrong.
By , July 12, 2017
cool page, didnt even know what a salvage title was until reading this