What Do You Mean It Has A Salvaged Title?

When purchasing a used car, it’s crucial to understand its history and condition clearly. A term that often arises during this process is a “salvaged vehicle title.”

In this blog post, we will delve into the concept of a salvaged title, explaining what it means, how a vehicle obtains one, and its implications for potential buyers. By the end, you’ll better grasp salvaged titles and be equipped to make informed decisions when buying a used vehicle.

What is a Salvaged Vehicle Title?

A salvaged vehicle title is a legal designation given to a vehicle that has been extensively damaged, usually due to a collision, flood, fire, theft recovery, or other significant incidents.

When the vehicle’s repair cost exceeds a certain percentage of its fair market value (this varies based on where you live), insurance companies often declare it a total loss and issue a salvaged title. This label serves as a warning to future buyers, indicating that the vehicle has undergone substantial damage and has been deemed uneconomical to repair by insurance standards.

How is a Vehicle Designated as Salvaged?

The process of designating a vehicle as salvaged may vary slightly depending on the jurisdiction but generally follows a similar pattern.

When an insurance company declares a vehicle a total loss, they assess the extent of the damage and the cost of repairs. If the repair costs exceed a predetermined threshold (often around 75% of the vehicle’s fair market value), the insurance company takes possession of the car and issues a salvage title.

This title effectively transfers ownership from the previous owner to the insurance company. The vehicle is then typically sold at an auction, and if purchased, the new owner will receive a salvaged title.

In many cases, the owner of the vehicle may also have the option to keep the vehicle. For instance, if a vehicle has significant hail damage, but the engine runs fine and it is road worthy, the owner may want to keep the vehicle to drive instead of buying a new one.

The claim settlement check from the insurance company may be less than if it was turned in to the company, since they will not be retaining the vehicle.

It is important to know that if the owner of the vehicle decides to keep it and drive the vehicle with a salvaged title, it has already been deemed a total loss. So while the vehicle may be insurable from a liability standpoint, there will be no further payout from a physical damage loss to the car.

Implications for Buyers

Buying a vehicle with a salvaged title can present both advantages and disadvantages.

Conversely, salvaged vehicles can be significantly cheaper than their non-salvaged counterparts. This affordability makes them attractive to budget-conscious buyers or those with mechanical expertise who can repair the vehicle themselves.

However, potential buyers should be aware of the downsides. Insurance coverage for salvaged cars can be challenging to obtain, and resale value is generally lower.

Additionally, repairs may require sourcing specialized parts and can be more difficult due to hidden damage or compromised structural integrity. It’s essential to have a thorough inspection performed by a qualified mechanic, ensuring that you are aware of all the necessary repairs and potential safety concerns before making a purchase.


A salvaged vehicle title indicates that a vehicle has sustained significant damage, resulting in it being declared a total loss by an insurance company.

While buying a salvage-titled vehicle has its advantages in terms of affordability, it also carries inherent risks and considerations. Educating yourself about salvaged titles can help you decide when buying a used vehicle.

Brian Blakely

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