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Readers Respond: Can a Salvage Title Be a Good Thing on a Used Car?

Responses: 132


Used cars with salvage titles can be a good thing for a person handy with automobiles. They spell "nightmare" for other owners. Share your experiences with used car salvage titles. Have you found a diamond in the rough? Regretted buying one in the first place. Share your experiences with used cars and salvage titles. Share Your Experiences

Bad title?

I bought a car off of craigslist, ran and drove great. Awesome right? The guy I bought it from said he was waiting on a duplicate title to come, and that he would mail it to me. I got it about a week later. I opened it up, and it still had the original owners name on the title. On the back of the title was his name in the buyers spot covered in whiteout. Wat do I do from here? I'm completely lost.
—Guest ilPedrino1994

Olds Silhouette

I bought a Mini van at 10 PM at night didn't see till I got in the light that it was a salvage title. The van runs and drives perfect. To look at it looks like it was never wrecked. But I don't get any calls on the van as it's now listed on Craigslist.
—Guest Pat A

Fun Project

I'm finishing repairs on a 2010 VW GTI that is salvage titled due to partial freshwater flooding. My wife has owned the car since new and knowing its history, I had no reservations about buying it back from the insurance company. It also helps that I was able to get it dried out before mold and mildew set in. Not being in a hurry to finish it has allowed me to find deals on low mileage used parts and keep the cost down. Once finished, we'll have roughly $5,000 in a car that retails for around $20,000 with similar options, mileage, condition, and a clean title. We aren't planning to sell it but if we were, even at 50% of retail we would double our investment and somebody would get a great deal on a really nice little car. I'd recommend a salvage titled car as a project if you enjoy tinkering, aren't In a hurry, and use some common sense about what you buy. If planning to buy a rebuild to drive, the important part is buying from a trustworthy rebuilder with a good reputation.
—Guest Tony

RE: Salvage repaires and savage titles.

I've sold so many salvage vehicles...wow! I've only had 2 people that have ever turned me down. I've had other people to actually come back a couple of years and want another car. If I have forgotten to get the receipt or the vin number numbers and letters (17) on the receipt. And already installed like a fender or other part. So, you must go back and get a receipt with the vin number where you got the part from ie: the junk-salvage yard. I have even went to a salvage yard and bought another part with vin numbered receipt. Removed the 1st part and replace it with the 2nd part, just for the highway patrol inspection. They"re looking for stolen (hot) parts. You must have receipts for all repaired parts and the car must be totally repaired. You can't leave like a busted or wrinkled fender on the car.
—Guest bill

Experience with salvage cycles

Every winter I buy a wrecked Harley, spend a bunch of time fixing, customizing, and then painting. I ride it all summer, then sell it in the fall. Its perfect for me, a great hobby.
—Guest Hansome

salvage title not done...

I just bought a car off craigslist said had a salvage title, well me being a female didn't realize that it hadn't been done to rebuilt title, now I'm sitting on a $1500 I can't plate. They said it was repaired which it was but indiana says I need proof of parts they fixed it sold I have no proof what can I do to get a rebuilt? It runs great and I have 2 kids I took tax money and feel I got scammed :(
—Guest indiana help!

My experiences w/ repairing salvage cars

I've purchased seven vehicles with salvage titles and repaired them for my personal use. (I'm not a mechanic) My strategy was to purchase a newer vehicle that was salvage, repair it and then own the vehicle without having a monthly car payment. The key is having a sharp estimate of repairs and parts prior to purchase. My advice for anyone wanting to purchase a salvage vehicle is to 1st get pictures of the vehicle that you are contemplating buying and take them to your body shop mechanic. 2nd, have the mechanic visually inspect the vehicle (AND PAY HIM FOR HIS TIME). 3RD, locate as many body parts that you can from salvage yards, i.e., bumpers, headlights, taillights, glass, doors, etc. The more that you can buy from a salvage yard, the more you save. I've never worried about the "value" of the re-sale because I was going to dirve this vehicle for my personal use. I live in Virginia, and after repairs a DMV rep comes out for inspection. If I can do it, anyone reading this post can.

salvage title never recorded? why?

I have a 1991 Toyota SR5 pickup. That I planned on keeping, and still have. Approx 3 years ago, I hit a large piece of asphalt on the highway. I called my ins. And they said take it in. I took it to Toyota and for $100.00 they would inspect it. When I dropped it off, as he's filling out paperwork, he said they are going to total it. The truck was near mint. Drove beautifully and I like it....I said you haven't even seen it! He said cars 5 yrs. Old come in with a damaged door and are totaled.. I was Wtf! I left the truck and 2 days later met the adjuster at the dealer. Clipboard in hand, he wrote. He never physically touched it. He glanced about for 5 minutes as he wrote. All was done,& he said they would contact me. I drove it off the lot, with dealer inspection list in hand. 2 days later the ins. Co. called, the offer was $1300.00. When I was done a WK. Later I had $4500 after my deductible. I did the b.s. brake and light inspection, and went to DMV. I have never stopped driving it.
—Guest yota


They're selling me a dodge caliber for 5500 with 140k and its salvage. It was crashed in the front. Its fixed now but I'm iffy about it. Advice pleasee.
—Guest natasha

Salvage Cars

I purchased my first car BMW from the Copart auto auctions with the salvage title. My experience with the salvage car is good till date I have not faced any problem. But I would say that there are various factors which should be kept in mind before buying a salvage car.Initially check for all the details about the car like the body parts, functioning, test drive and the history of the car. After doing the through inspection if you are satisfied then go for the salvage car. You can buy your favorite car at low price at salvage auto auctions.

Better to keep looking

True, a salvage vehicle doesn't necessarily mean it is a bad vehicle. But it does mean "something" happened in its past. Taking a salvage car to an actual mechanic can help, but bad mechanics are just as commonplace as bad cars. I have owned many "auction cars" with clean titles that were great cheap vehicles; coming from Indiana, an auctioned abandoned vehicle does not warrant a salvage title. I typically know what to look for, and just as typically can wind up with a good older vehicle. The one car I owned which was actually salvaged was a Chevy Beretta. The seller bought, fixed, and sold L-body Chevys: red flag #1. When pressed, I was told the car had only minor damage. In reality, as I later discovered, it had been totaled and escaped having a branded title somehow. It was clean, pretty, and low mileage. Really it was a horrible money pit lemon that should have never been fixed. Best bet: If you know or think a car is salvage-titled, walk away. Its too much a crap shoot
—Guest salvagenono




Most salvage auction sites have inspectors who will give the vehicle a once over for a fee. They are usually listed on the sites information page. Another good service is a site called salvageresearch.com They check the history of the vehicle prior to the auction and will tell you if a vehicle has been tampered with to make it look better in the photos. They also show a weekly series of vehicles placed at auction that have been tampered with.
—Guest wileyone

Oklahoma Salvage Title

No inspection for a car coming out of salvage to rebuilt if car is older than 10 years. That's fine. But all car's that came out with air bags should have to be air bag system inspection. The rebuild. After 10 yrs. does not have to work because no inspection needed. With that said. People are rebuilding, with no inspection, no disclosure and the buyer is thinking the car has workable air bags. Used car dealers with a body shop behind there house are looking to buy the 10yr or older cars so that they get around the inspection. The reason they go to salvage with light damage is that to make air bag system work again is cost prohibited. Without this they get retail used car price. Buyer has a wreck with embankment @ 45mph driver air bag does not deploy cause that was the only one set off that sent it to salvage. Buyer is now in Hospital with bottom jaw broke in 3 places, broken rib. Buyer is my sister. Thanks Mr. Dealer/ Back yard body shop man. Car sold for $4200. Really? INSPECT AIR BAG
—Guest Troy


i have been building and selling salvage car over 30 yrs. all of my family, friends, and customers drive them, and have NO problems. i watch what we buy. no cowl or flood damage. we stand behind and will trade back in. if you wreck your prior salvage car and the insurance co. treats you unfairly spend a little money and get a lawyer, because if the insurance co. wont pay your claim after you paid your premium then they should not be selling salvage back to people. but be careful, there are people out there that should not be building cars. i have been in business for over 34 yrs and going strong. i love the cars we build and would not be afraid to drive any of them across the county and back. when we sell a car it looks like new and drives like new because it is like new. why else would our customers keep coming back for more cars.
—Guest terry

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Can a Salvage Title Be a Good Thing on a Used Car?

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