A salvage title is the used car buyers’ bogeyman (which is not always right) and the reason why VIN such is so necessary for all used cars. A salvage title in the vehicle history means that the vehicle was once a total loss: the insurance company paid the claim on it and wrote it off to a salvage auction. Here, the most interesting part begins. There is a widespread recommendation to used car buyers to beware of salvage cars and run away at the very smell of a salvage. It has some real grounds for many salvage cars are severely damaged accident cars or flooded ones. However, this recommendation is not always justified. What you need is to search titles and analyze a bit, make the right estimate and you risks will be rewarded by a substantial discount which may run up 50% or even more.
What is VIN search reveals salvage title?
According to the VIN search report, the car may have a standing salvage title or previously issued, while the current title is non-salvage and the vehicle is legally derivable. First of all, pay attention in which state the salvage title was issued and the exact reason for that. The trick is that in many states a salvage title does not necessarily mean that be vehicle has been badly damaged. As we said above, generally, a salvage title means that an insurance claim has been paid on a vehicle deemed total loss. A total loss vehicle is not just the one that received a serious functional damage. It’s either a vehicle with estimated repair costs exceeding 75-85% (the exact percent depends on the state’s law) of it’s market value prior to the damage, or a stolen vehicle. A 10-year-old car in a pretty good state that gets a fender-bender or is slightly hail-beaten may be totaled out because be cost of the new parts and the work involved in repairs is almost the same as it’s current deprecated due to age value. But on the overall it’s in perfect operable condition, so you may buy such a car, fix it if you’ve got the hands and the head, re-title it so as to legally use on public roads and drive happily.
If a previously salvage vehicle now has a rebuilt, reconstructed, revived title (the wording depends on the state), it could be legally rebuilt to an operable state and re-titled. You need to investigate into the damage and repairs and then make your decision. A theft recovery vehicle may also have a salvage title in its history, as I mentioned above. But in reality, such cars are among the safest buys, provided that you give is a proper pre-purchase inspection by an expert.
Beware of flood damaged cars, these are among the most dangerous buys! Even if the current title is clean, a flood / water damage title or any other indication of a water damage in the history is bog red flag. Flood damaged cars are the most unpredictable and risky fellows, you never know which exactly system is going to fail and when, and they do fail, sooner or later.
Beware of title washing scams. If the vehicle magically changed title from a salvage one received in one state to a clean one in another state, be very suspicious.
If the vehicle history report shows a standing salvage title the seller didn’t inform you of, then he or she had something to hide about the car.