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Salvage Title

A vehicle has a salvage title when an insurance company takes ownership of it at the end of an insurance claim when the damaged vehicle is declared a total loss, or it would cost more to repair the vehicle than it is worth. A vehicle can also be given a salvage title if it was stolen and recovered after the insurance claim was completed and the owner was paid by the insurance company. Vehicles with salvage titles are known as salvage cars.

What Is a Salvage Title?

Salvage TitleSalvage title cars can’t be driven on the road. In order to become road-legal again, salvage cars must be repaired and, then, inspected by the state. Once the state deems the vehicle road-worthy, the salvage title can be converted into a rebuilt title, also known as a title with salvage history. The car and title are then road-legal, but the title will always have a note, or a title brand, showing the vehicle was previously a salvage car.

Salvage Title Cars

Title brands are marks, stamps or notes on a title showing the title history of a vehicle. In the case of salvage titles and rebuilt titles, these title brands can be general or specifically denote the type of damage and reason for which the car received its salvage title. A title with no brands is said to be a clear title, clean title or normal title. Common title brands include:

  • Salvage
  • Junk
  • Totaled
  • Lemon (Warranty Return)
  • Flood (Water Damage)
  • Rebuilt
  • Remanufactured
  • Theft
  • Fleet
  • Non-USA
  • Fire
  • Abandoned

What is my salvage car worth?

Salvage TitleCalculating the value of your salvage car requires taking into account quite a large number of variables. Year, make, model, trim and mileage are just the start. As the car still has a salvage title, it isn’t drivable. This generally means the car is heavily damaged, so damaged that the insurance company declared it a total loss. Therefore, the extent of damage needs to be taken into account. This is best done using a repair estimate. You can also click the button below to see how much your salvage car is worth.

How Much is Your Salvage Car Worth

Before an accident, a used car’s value is fairly readily available. In insurance circles, that value is known as its ACV or actual cash value. ACV is calculated by subtracting the dollar amount of depreciation from replacement cost of the car. By taking a vehicle’s ACV and subtracting the cost of repairs to be performed, you get the salvage value. The salvage value is a starting point of calculating what your salvage car is worth.

What does "salvage title" mean?

Starting with the salvage value, you then make additions to or subtractions from that amount for things like damage type, vehicle rarity, location, vehicle demand and whether the damage is mechanical, cosmetic or both. The exact same car with the exact same repair estimate will be worth more if it has mechanical damage than if it has fire damage.

If the salvage car is a theft-recovery with no damage, it will be worth more than a damaged vehicle. If after a close inspection, you find that the theft-recovery car doesn’t need any repair, you can have it inspected and made road-legal faster and for less cost.

How to Sell a Car with a Salvage Title

Selling a car with a salvage title isn’t easy if you try to go through the usual channels of listing a car online, trading it in or selling it to a dealership. Most people don’t want to go through the hassle of buying a salvage car.

You can fix the car and have it inspected. Then, you can sell the rebuilt car. After all of that expense, time and hassle, you’ll have a car that is salable, but you will still have to take up to 50-percent off of the car’s value with no damage history.

The best bet is to sell your salvage car to a buyer who specializes in buying damaged and salvage vehicles. will give you a no-obligation, guaranteed offer for your car, no matter if it has a salvage title, clean title or rebuilt title. Just click the get an offer button and you can be paid for your car in as little as 24 to 48 hours. At, we buy cars in less-than-perfect condition, nationwide.

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Frequently asked questions

How does decide the value or worth of my vehicle? takes into account a variety of factors when making you an offer for your vehicle. For example, the wholesale value of your car pre-accident, the extent of damage or mechanical and electrical problems, the current market demand for your vehicle and its parts, its make, model, mileage and age all play a part of deciding the value of your vehicle.