What Is a Salvage Title and Are They Really Bad?

Buying a car can be a complicated affair. Thousands of dollars changing hands, trade-ins, appraisals, techy auto talk, test drives, … Continued

Buying a car can be a complicated affair. Thousands of dollars changing hands, trade-ins, appraisals, techy auto talk, test drives, inspections, and reams of paperwork that need your John Hancock can create a hectic experience. Not to be lost in the shuffle, however, is your car’s most important document: the title. Is it clean, or is it salvage? If salvage, should you worry about it?

Well, before ruffling your feathers too much, Car Bibles’ editors want to put you at ease, as salvage titles are known quantities and don’t have to be scary. You just need to do your homework ahead of time before signing on the dotted line. To do that, you need to know a few things about salvage titles, so let’s get into it.

What Is a Car Title?

A car title is a legally binding document that denotes who owns the car in question. For example, if you buy a new or used car, you own the car, and your name will appear on the title. That is unless you financed your car with your bank, at which point the bank is the legal owner of the car and will hold the title until you pay off the loan.

What Is a Salvage Title?

A salvage title is a type of car title meant to tell a potential buyer that the car has been in a serious accident, saw significant weather-related damage, or has been stolen before. This usually occurs after the car’s value craters due to your insurance claiming it a total loss.

Can You Repair a Salvage Car?

You can, but it isn’t for the faint of heart. There are multiple safety issues you’ll have to address before your state allows it back on the road. It could also cost you far more than an undamaged version of your car costs. Engines and frame repairs are expensive to rectify.

What’s the Difference Between a Salvage Title and a Branded Title?

A salvage title is a type of branded title, which details part of the history of a car. In this case, a branded title is meant to inform the potential buyer of past damage.

Car Bible’s Glossary for Salvage Titles

Welcome to Bible School!

  • Branded Title

A branded title is a designation convention that states whether or not a car has been seriously damaged or endangered by any number of instances, including water damage, hail damage, theft, Lemon law issues, if the modified odometers, or rebuilds.

  • Rebuilt Title

A rebuilt title is a type of title that is for a vehicle that’s been seriously damaged but repaired by either the owner or a mechanic to the point that it becomes road-worthy once again.

  • Clean Title

A clean vehicle title is a title for a vehicle that’s not been in an accident and is dubbed “clean.”

Your Questions, Our Answers on Salvage Titles

Car Bibles answers your burning questions!

Q: Is It Bad to Buy a Car With a Salvage Title?

A: Not really, no. A salvage title is meant to help you understand your purchase. If you’re confident you can repair the car, or that it’s been repaired properly, a salvage title isn’t something you need to necessarily fear. Some, however, have a personal preference to eliminate any risk by avoiding them completely.

Q: How Do I Sell My Car With a Salvage Title?

A: Just like a normal car, though you may get less than you paid for it given the car’s damage and irregular title.

Q: Will Banks Finance a Salvage Title?

A: Most lenders won’t finance the purchase of a car with a salvage title, so you’ll have to do your homework if that’s the route you want to pursue.

Q. How Do You Clear a Salvage Title?

A: Branded titles will stay with the car for as long as the car stays on the road. You can repair the title, which would change the title from damaged to repaired or rebuilt, but the branding won’t leave it and become clean.

Video on Salvage Titles

Car Bibles’ editors understand that not everyone is a text-based learner. For those kinesthetic people out there, we have your back with a video showing you exactly how salvage titles work. We pulled it from one of our most trusted sources and it’s a great additional resource.

Car Bible’s Favored Salvage Title Related Products

You can buy tools to fix your salvage titled car at almost every auto parts and home improvement store. As well as online stores like Amazon. You have a sea of options to select from. Car Bibles’ editors put together a list of things that’ll help you repair your salvage titled car, such as Rust Removers, Dent Repairers, and Glass Repair kits.

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Jonathon Klein

Jonathon KleinJonathon has jumped Aston Martins for Automobile Magazine, clocked 200 mph in a McLaren 720S for Playboy, and sampled his best life behind the wheel of a Ferrari Dino Evo for Road & Track. He’s hopelessly addicted to the strongest coffee he can brew. Please send him more. Contact the author here.