Full Guide on How to Sell a Salvage Title Car

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Edgar Moulton.


Edgar Moulton. Car Expert

After your car is damaged in an accident, fire, or some sort of calamity, you might find yourself facing an issue: “Should I scrap my car or fix it?” There are situations when restoring a crashed or totaled car doesn’t make sense. Before you make any decision, read our article first. We’ll explain in detail what a salvage title is and how to sell a salvage vehicle.

Things to Know Before Selling a Salvage Car 

To consider the methods of selling a car with a salvage title, we should first define what a salvage vehicle is. It’s a car that has been exposed to structural or mechanical damage to the point where repair and restoration costs are higher than the vehicle’s residual value. In a word, a salvage car is a totaled or wrecked automobile in an unserviceable condition. 

To sell a vehicle for salvage, you need to get a salvage title for it. Notably, a salvage title is something from a legal sphere. It’s a document issued based on the designation assigned by an insurance company once it admits that fixing a vehicle will eat up more money than the car costs. To be worth a salvage title, the car repair costs should make up over 80% of the automobile’s price. 

One more thing to remember when selling your car for salvage is that conditions for salvage designation differ across the states. So, it’s advisable that you check for those in your area to duly observe all formalities valid in your jurisdiction and avoid any potential legal issues. 

Other Types of Car Titles

When buying a new or used vehicle, you receive a title, legally making you a car owner. Besides, the car title reflects the automobile’s history to describe the current car condition and show what events or damages it was exposed to. Thus, there are three more car title types in addition to the salvage title we’ve already mentioned:

  • Clean title: The vehicle is in a good serviceable condition, with no structural damage to it. Normally, this title is issued for new cars; 
  • Clear title: The automobile is free from any debts or ownership problems;  
  • Rebuilt title: This designation is usually assigned to salvage vehicles that have been fixed to a serviceable condition and are safe to drive;
  • Junk title: Issued for cars sold to junkyards, this title means that the vehicle is not fit for driving and is rather to be used in repair works. Usually, junk title cars are dismantled for spare parts.   

How to Get a Salvage Title for Your Car

As we’ve already mentioned, selling cars with a salvage title requires having that specific title in place. A salvage title is issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in each state. Before applying, you need your insurance company to declare the vehicle a total loss. Then, you should file an application with your local DMV, pay a state fee, and submit the car to a salvage inspection.

The most common circumstances for assigning a salvage car designation across the states include  

  • Accidents, collisions, and crashes;
  • Natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornados, etc.;
  • Weather calamities such as hail, high wind, storms, etc.;
  • Vandalism and other types of deliberate damage and breakage;
  • Severe damage caused by rust and corrosion.

Beyond direct impact, insurance companies can declare salvage designation for a theft-recovered vehicle, the cost of which has already been compensated to the owner. This allows an insurance company to get some money back.  

How to Sell a Car With a Salvage Title: 3 Easiest Ways

While considering how to sell a salvage title vehicle, you need to take into account the fact that it’s an insurance company that has the prime right on selling your salvage car. Hence, to keep a salvage auto in your possession, you need to agree with the insurer and expect that the settlement amount will be cut down by the salvage car price. 

Notably, unless you get a better price than the estimated salvage car value, there is no sense to sell a salvage title car on your own. You can leave this hassle to your insurer and simply get your insurance settlement.

In case selling a salvage vehicle is in your plans, there are a few ways how you can do it. 

Specialized Marketplaces

Selling a vehicle with a salvage title by listing it online is one of the easiest and most straightforward options you have. There are online marketplaces dedicated to selling salvage cars. This way, you have chances to spot private buyers and find the right buyer for your car, who will purchase it on your terms. At the same time, though, arm yourself with patience, since finding your perfect buyer might take quite a while.


Many car dealerships welcome buying totaled and salvaged cars. Some might purchase them for parts, while others overhaul vehicles to a serviceable condition for further re-sale. 

Auto Auctions

An auto auction is a great place for selling a salvage title car for cash. Those auctions are not numerous, yet, they sell cars in “as is” condition, with no preliminary inspection. 


Wondering how to sell a salvage car quickly? Sell it to the junkyard. Most of them buy salvage cars for parts or metal scrap and can offer hefty price points.     

What Is a Salvage Car Value?

Normally, it’s the insurance company that determines your salvage car value when inspecting it and designating a salvage meaning. A common approach is to multiply the average market price of the car by 0.25 to get your salvage car value. It means the salvage designation eats up to 75% of the car's selling price. 

However, those are the maximum ratios. In practice, the actual value of the salvage vehicle will depend on the scope and extent of the wreck and damage. That’s what a thorough inspection is necessary for.  

Consider Selling Your Car to JunkCarsUs

Want to cut the trouble of selling a salvage title vehicle on your own? If so, consider selling to JunkCarsUs. We purchase used, damaged, aged, and totaled vehicles, and we buy salvage cars as well. We offer

  • Same-day service
  • Quick and fair quotes
  • Cash payment
  • Free towing service

We will buy your wrecked vehicle in any condition and help calculate the salvage value of your car. So don’t hesitate to contact us right now to get your car sold asap!  


Is it hard to sell a salvage title car?

By and large, it will depend on your salvage vehicle's state and the extent of the damage. Cars with minor damage are easier to sell and entail higher value. However, get ready for the situation when dealers and junkyards will seek to lower the price and offer much less than the real cost.

What do I need to sell my salvage car?

Should the auto insurance company recognize your vehicle as a total loss, you need to apply for a salvage title for your car with the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state.

Can I sell a car with a salvage title without informing the buyer about the vehicle's status?

Selling a salvage title vehicle without informing the buyer about the car’s title is illegal. A salvaged car is a damaged automobile that is not safe to drive. And the buyer should be aware of that.

Edgar Moulton.


Edgar Moulton. Car Expert

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