How to Get a Salvage Title With Just a Bill of Sale

Can I get rid of a salvage title on my car?

Before we get into the steps on clearing salvage titles, it’s important to note that you can’t ditch the salvage title completely. When a car is a total loss, the car will forever have the salvage title label. 

However, in some cases, it is possible to have a “rebuilt title.” After taking the following steps and following the state DMV guidelines, you may be able to get a new rebuilt title for the car. 


Financing a Salvage Title Car

Getting a loan for a car with a salvage title can be difficult. If you don’t have the money handy to pay for the car in cash, then you’ll probably have to take out a personal loan to finance your purchase. This will probably be more expensive than an auto loan, but it may be your only option if you have to borrow money to buy the car. Many lenders won’t finance salvage vehicles because it’s almost impossible to get collision insurance coverage for them. Lenders require this coverage to protect their investment. Insurers are also wary because of the many mechanical risks that salvage title cars have.

How To Insure a Salvage Title Car

In most cases, it’s very difficult to get car insurance on a salvage title car that provides more than basic liability coverage. This is because insurers don’t have any way to establish an accurate value for the car. They also can’t verify that the car has the same safety standards as a car with a clean title. For these reasons, it is almost impossible to get collision or comprehensive coverage on a salvage title car. 

If you want to get auto insurance on a salvage title car, you should shop around to see who will insure you and offer the best rates. Some insurers may offer special policies for these cars. But you should generally be prepared to pay more for your insurance than you would for a car with a clean title.

Salvage Titles Dont Have To Be Expensive With Protect My Car

Parts break, especially on salvage cars.

And oh boy, does that get expensive. Fortunately, for the smart car owners who don’t want to constantly be paying for repairs, we created our Ambassador program.

At the moment, we’re a bit of an anomaly in the extended car warranty industry with our Ambassador program, that covers cars up to 300,000 miles, even if you have a salvage or branded title. We can do this because unlike our competitors, we service our own contracts, meaning we’re the ones that pay for your repairs, not a 3rd party.

Our Ambassador plans allow you to pick a deductible for your repair, which can be either 25% or 50%. Once you pay the deductible, we’ll step in and pay the rest.

So if your engine decides to fail, and the mechanic quotes you $3,000 dollars for a new one, we’ll be there to pay either $1,500, or $2,250 of it, depending on which deductible you choose.

Suddenly, that $3,000 dollar repair bill is much more affordable.

Our Ambassador contract is also affordable, and on average your monthly payment will cost less than a night out for two.

Your time is valuable. Don’t waste it calling other companies only to find out that they don’t cover branded titles. 

Get a free quote from Protect My Car today and start saving on car repairs, even if your title has a brand.

Which banks will finance a car loan with a salvage title?

Some banks and title companies that finance cars with a salvage title are few and far between. Westlake Financial is one example of a financial institution that does. If your bank doesn’t offer loans for salvage titles, another option may be to apply for a personal loan or a loan through a credit union.

Getting The Repair Done

In order to get a salvage title from a salvage certificate, you’ll need to repair the original damage that the car was totaled for. In order to have this done, you’ll need to get a copy of the original estimate of the damage.

This estimate is based upon what the insurance company thinks it will cost to repair the vehicle – which means the total cost may actually be above or below what they estimate. You should be prepared to pay this cost if you want to get a salvage title.

However, just repairing what the insurance company estimated is not enough. Many states require you to submit to a VIN inspection, as well as an inspection by the local police department in order to make sure your car is not using stolen parts.

Other states will also require a safety inspection, which you should be prepared to submit for.

To make sure you pass this inspection, you should also have your mechanic perform an inspection of the car to look for other issues not covered in the original repair estimate. By having your mechanic check for anything the adjustor may have missed, you’ll make sure your new vehicle exceeds the standard to pass any inspections needed.

When you are getting your car repaired, you should ask the mechanic to document which parts he or she used, as it will make your life easier later.

Step 2: Complete the required California documentation

On top of your repairs, you’ll need to file several documents at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). 

First, fill out the Application for Title or Registration. This form requests a new certificate of title so that you can ditch the salvage certificate and get a new title for your car. The new title will acknowledge the salvage title history but show that the vehicle has been revived or rebuilt. 

California drivers will need to have proof of ownership with a salvage title and a salvage certificate in their name. If you purchased the car from out of state, you will also need a Statement of Facts. If your vehicle is less than 20 years old, you’ll also need to provide an Odometer Disclosure Statement. 

What Is a Salvage Title?

A car title is a legal document of who owns a vehicle. If you own a car outright, with no loans against it, then you likely have a car title in your name.

A salvage title not only indicates who owns the vehicle but also that it has been damaged beyond its fair market value and declared a total loss by an insurance company.

What constitutes a total loss depends on the insurance laws in your state. For example, in Nevada, a vehicle is considered a total loss if the damage exceeds 65% of the fair market value. Nevada also classifies flood-damaged and unrepairable vehicles that are only suitable for scrap as salvage vehicles. In New York, on the other hand, the damage must exceed 75% of the car's fair market value.

Salvage titles tell potential buyers what type of damage the vehicle has incurred. That could be flood damage, fire damage, or damage related to an auto accident. The salvage title process can also ensure that a vehicle has not been rebuilt or restored with stolen or defective parts.

How to Insure a Car with a Salvage Title

If you have a car with a salvage title that you'd like to fix up and return to the road, you'll need to consider your options for insuring it. Again, the rules can vary by state and from insurer to insurer.

Some insurance companies may be willing to sell you basic liability coverage for a salvage vehicle that’s been rebuilt or restored, while others may not. Depending on the state, you may need to obtain a separate rebuilt or restored vehicle title that certifies the vehicle’s safety before you can get insurance and drive it on the roads.

If you’re shopping for insurance, take time to compare companies. Look at the premiums they charge for at least the minimum level of coverage that’s required in your state. Also think about whether paying extra for collision and comprehensive coverage is worth it, based on the vehicle’s estimated value. (Though liability coverage is mandatory in virtually every state, collision and comprehensive, which pay for damage to your car, are optional.)

Important If you're considering buying a salvage or rebuilt vehicle, plan to have it checked out by a trusted mechanic to help spot any potential issues before money changes hands.

Insuring a salvage-title car

While it’s not impossible to insure a salvage-title vehicle, it may be more difficult to do so — especially if you require full coverage with collision and comprehensive.

Most insurance companies will write a liability policy for a salvage-title car but are often hesitant to include collision and comprehensive. For one, assigning an accurate value to a salvage-title car is challenging. According to Kelley Blue Book (KBB), a salvage-title car is typically worth 20% to 40% less than one with a clean title. If you make a claim on a salvage car, you should be prepared for a much lower “total loss” payout than you might expect from a car that’s “clean.”

The second reason is safety. Salvage cars often have lurking problems that may or may not be addressed in the process of restoring them to health. Not all rebuilders are honest, and cutting corners to boost profitability is fairly common. Either or both of these realities can result in a vehicle with structural and alignment issues that make it dangerous to drive.

If you are shopping for a salvage title policy, here are a few tips for finding the best coverage:

Shop around. Roughly 20% to 30% of insurers will not insure a salvage-title vehicle, so you will need to shop around. Contact your current insurer to see if they offer coverage. If they don’t, start shopping. Be prepared for an inspection. Some insurers will require an inspection and appraisal before they will insure a salvage-title car. If you disagree with the appraisal amount, then you should try to negotiate a higher amount or continue shopping for a new policy. Even if an inspection isn’t required to insure the vehicle, you may want to get one anyway. Before buying, have a trusted mechanic thoroughly inspect the vehicle. Get a repair estimate. If possible, get the original repair estimate from the rebuilder or the insurance company that totaled the car. This can give your insurance company peace of mind that all damage has been repaired. Prepare to pay more. Pricing will also vary by insurer, but you shouldn’t expect a break on your premiums for a salvage car because you got a deal on the purchase price. If anything, the opposite will be true: Some insurance companies will add a surcharge of up to 20% to the policy when insuring a salvage-title vehicle. Consider less-than-full coverage. Consider getting a liability-only policy, which financially protects you if you injure another person or their property. It will not cover the cost to repair your own vehicle. Liability only insurance is much easier (and less expensive) to get with a salvage-title car.

How do I tell whether a title is clean or salvage?

If a car is salvaged, the title should be marked or branded. If you don’t have access to the title, you can look at a car history report from an NMVTIS data provider.