What is a salvage right and should I be afraid to buy one?

salvage title

If the time you spend buying a car and the drive are what editors do, you’ll start trying to find cheap ways to buy the car you want. Of course, taking the time to research and shop will pay off in the end, but what if you’re impatient and want a new really good deal? That’s what it means to buy a vehicle with a salvage title.

If you’re looking to resell the car, you’ll run into some repair work and it might be hard to find a buyer, but buying a repairable car wreck can be a great way to get you into an expensive car, and Just pay for repairs.

But as with anything, you should do some research to see exactly what you’re getting into. Salvage rights don’t mean the same wherever you go, and they don’t mean the same everywhere. The word is misused, so take a moment to figure out the situation with the help of us, your friendly neighbors The Drive Editor.

What is salvage right?

When you see a car listed as salvage title, know that it’s been in some sort of serious accident. The title indicates that the vehicle was damaged at some point and the insurance company believes the damage is severe enough that it’s a Total loss. This damage is not necessarily caused by the sinking of the ship. It could be the result of a natural disaster, such as a flood, or it could be the damage caused by theft.

Is buying a rescue vehicle a bad idea?

It’s not always a bad idea, but you need to do your homework. We always recommend an inspection before buying, but we require an inspection on vehicles with a salvage title. Before buying a car with a salvage title, keep in mind:


You may be willing to risk buying a car with a bailout title, and your bank or credit union may be less comfortable with it. Financial institutions want to first make sure you can pay back the loan as promised, but they also worry about the value of what they’re financing. Resale of bailout title cars can be unstable in value, meaning if you default, the bank may not get all the money back


Finding an insurance agency to cover your salvage title vehicle isn’t difficult, but you need to keep in mind that if it’s involved in an accident, the value of the vehicle can become an issue. You should be aware that your insurance company will most likely require you to pay at least to rebuild the title before stamping the approval seal, which indicates that the vehicle is roadworthy and repaired.

Resale or value transaction

A car with a salvage title will not have the same resale value title as a clean car. This is the most important fact that you may need to do some handshakes with potential buyers to cover the condition and backstory of the vehicle.

vehicle history

You should keep your eyes on the background of buying a used car. Yes, you already know the car has been wrecked or damaged in some way, but how was it maintained before that? Has the previous owner maintained it mechanically? A pre-purchase inspection can solve many problems for you and can also let you know the severity of the damage to your vehicle.

What is the difference between rebuilding a title and salvaging a title?

The right of salvage vehicle was badly damaged to some extent, but the vehicle with the right to rebuild has been fully restored. Different countries may define these terms differently, or use them interchangeably, but they almost always describe different things. The rebuilt vehicle should be roadworthy and any damage should be repaired. A salvage title is an intermediate step between an accident, the eventual repair of the vehicle, or the junkyard.

Explanation of these terms and checklists

Get an education.

car history report

Vehicle history reports can show you a lot of background information about the vehicle you’re about to buy, but they’re not infallible. Most accidents, maintenance records, previous owners, etc. are available through reports from companies like Carfax, but sometimes things go wrong.


In this case, we use the word “accident” to describe the damage done to the vehicle. This damage can come from an actual collision, or it can come from other unfortunate events such as theft or flooding.


Insurance, assuming you’re buying the good stuff, should pay you for the value of your car if it’s considered a total loss (see below). The insurance company will assess the value of your car and decide how much to pay you if the car is damaged.

total loss

In some cases, insurance companies will determine that the cost of repairing the vehicle exceeds the value of the vehicle. You may have heard this situation referred to as “total scrap” or “total loss”. But that doesn’t mean the wrecked vehicle has no value. It just means the value is less than the repair cost.

Sometimes you need a qualified mechanic

As many drives like to put “you” on do-it-yourself, we know that not everyone has the right tools, safe workspace, free time, or confidence to handle major auto repairs. Sometimes you just need professionals to perform high-quality repair work you can trust like our partners at Goodyear Tire & Service.

Frequently Asked Questions About Salvage Ownership

You have questions, the drive has answers!

Are all salvage vehicles broken or unsafe?

A. If it is not repaired, it is not safe. They don’t have to be broken, but you have to do your homework to make sure you’re buying what you want and that the repairs claimed are accurate.

Are Salvage Vehicles Good Project Vehicles?

A. If you can find a car with repairable damage but not a fully charred frame, yes. If you’re planning to update or change important parts of the vehicle’s exterior and body, anyway, a salvage title car can save you the items you need to get started right.

Q: Can I convert salvage title to clean title?

A. Unfortunately, once a salvage right is applied for, it exists forever in some form. That means a rebuilt title can be released, but the car will always be considered salvaged at some point in its life cycle.

Q: What is the best place to sell a salvage truck?

A. Private sales are usually best because you can get the most cars from individuals. That said, it’s sometimes hard to sell vehicles with salvage title, so you might have better luck hitting a salvage yard or trying a site that focuses on old and damaged vehicles. Remember, there may be restrictions on selling the car with a salvage title because it hasn’t been repaired. For details, please check with your local vehicle management office.