Junk Car Medics / Automotive / Is It Bad to Buy a Car with a Salvage Title?

Is It Bad to Buy a Car with a Salvage Title?

You have probably already heard about salvage title cars. It is a vehicle that has been damaged and the cost of repair is more than the cost of the vehicle, so there is no financial sense of repairing it. An insurance company then takes the possession of the vehicle in question and sells it to scrap yards or recycling facilities. However, insurance companies can be wrong and the salvage vehicle may, in fact, be easily reparable and made roadworthy. So, is it a good idea to buy and register a salvage title car? It could be, but there are a few things you need to know before you go to look for good deals.

Salvage title cars are valued less than cars with clean titles.

  1. Registration

You can buy salvage cars from scrap yards or recycling facilities, repair them, and register them just like any other vehicle. However, if the insurance company has written off the car, it will be issued with a salvage title which will show that the vehicle was once destined for scrap. DMV will register the car without any problems but it will lower the value of your car on the second hand market since potential buyers will not pay as much as they would for the same car which wasn`t significantly damaged. Even if your salvage title car is in better condition with fewer miles and more options, the undamaged car will have higher resale value. Have that in mind.

  1. Repairs

Obviously, salvage title cars will need repairs to make them roadworthy and usable. So, be ready to invest into spare parts and labor. You have to thoroughly inspect the said vehicle in order to fully comprehend the level of investment. Even if you are an experienced car person you can be wrong and think that the car is easily repairable. Those kinds of mistakes will end up costing you money. So, if you are in the market for salvage title vehicles, it is best to have a trained mechanic by your side just in case. It’s best to keep you away from cars that are too expensive and complicated to be saved.

  1. Insurance

If you put a salvage title car back on the road, you could have problems with the insurance companies. Some of them won't even consider issuing a policy for a salvage title car, while others might insure you, but at a much higher cost. The reason is simple: insurance companies think that a salvage title car is a high-risk vehicle since they don’t know who had it repaired and how, or if the vehicle is really roadworthy. It is wise to get information from the insurance company before you start investing in repairs, just to see if the whole process is worth doing.

  1. Cost

Like most junk cars, salvage title cars are dirt cheap and you can get a late model high-optioned vehicle for next to nothing. Of course, it will need significant investment in parts and labor to make it presentable again, so if you choose a good candidate for repairs, you can have a shiny and almost new car for just a fraction of the cost. However, be extremely careful since if you choose the wrong car, it could end up costing more than a certified used vehicle from the dealer`s lot.

Let`s run down the basic things that you need to spend money on. First, you have to buy the car itself. Yes, it would be cheap but it certainly isn’t free. Then you have to count in the cost of repair, parts, labor, and miscellaneous items you will need during that process. In most cases, you need a fresh coat of paint, at least on the damaged part of the car, and that can be costly. Also, you should include in your calculation the high cost of insurance, if available.

The best thing is if you can do some of the work by yourself. In that case you will save a lot of money on labor, and buying a salvage title car will have even more financial sense. You should stay away from luxury or high-end imported salvage title cars. In most cases, they are too expensive to repair and too complicated for maintenance which translates to money loss in real life.

Don't buy salvage title luxury cars.

  1. Potential breakdowns

The reality of living with a salvage title car is that you might experience more breakdowns and mechanical problems than you would on a regular used vehicle. Just remember that not too long ago, your car was destined for the crusher and it was severely damaged or crashed. Despite the amount of time, effort, money or labor you have invested in it, it is still a salvage title vehicle and some parts or components may be overlooked and problematic.  Modern cars are built as a whole and fully functioning machine, not as a sum of parts, especially with all electronic systems and components. And if you tear it apart and put it back together, it will never work as good as before and you could expect anything to happen. So if you need a fully dependable ride, maybe you should stay away from salvage title cars.


It is definitely cheaper and very tempting to buy a salvage title car and put it back on the road. The insurance companies are quick to declare a total loss and write off cars that could be saved. There are some diamonds in the dust, scattered on scrap yards all over the country. However, you should be extra careful and stay away from anything that you are not 100% sure you could repair and save money on. Always take skilled professionals with you and listen to their advice. We suggest not to use salvage titles as your or your family’s only transport, but as a work car. The reason is simple; you want to have full protection, insurance and a fully working vehicle for your everyday transport. A salvage title car is perfect for a work or farm truck, hobby car, or some other vehicle your life doesn’t depend on.

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