What is Salvage title? US States Rebuilt Title Rules

Can I Buy a Flooded Car and Then Fix it to Obtain a Title in North Dakota?

By Mike Richards Updated: 05/23/2019 Posted: 08/25/2017

Everyone has their own emotional connection to their car. You might not even realize that connection exists until you drive off the lot with a new-to-you car. How do you want to feel? Free? Alive? Excited?

The feelings a new car—whether new, or just new-to-you—can come at a steep price. Buying a car is expensive—even more so when you factor in the costs of financing one. So it’s no wonder that many North Dakotans are interested in buying used cars. Those used cars often come with an unpleasant surprise: a very high price tag. A flooded car offers an alternative that’s more affordable to most budgets.

But can you buy a flooded car? And if you do, can you fix it, obtain a title, or resell it? It depends. Here’s what you need to know.

About Flooded Cars in North Dakota

It’s just a little water, right? Not so fast. Water can do immense damage to a car, and much more quickly than you might think. It only takes a few minutes for water to destroy a car. That’s why many North Dakota flooded cars look cosmetically great. But beneath that beautiful cosmetic veneer lurks a car with extensive damage. Flooded cars may have damaged or replaced engines, rust to the undercarriage, or damage to the seats and frame. There might even be mold or mildew growing in the car.

Unlike most other states, North Dakota has no special title designation for flooded cars. This means two things:

  1. If you buy a salvage car, you might not know it is a flooded vehicle.
  2. If a used car is not salvaged after a flood, it’s possible to sell it as a run-of-the-mill used car, with no warning of its salvage history.

This means that all cars in North Dakota should be considered suspect, since there’s no consumer warning for cars with a flood history. Before you invest in any car, get a copy of the title and run a title report.

Flood and Salvage Titles in North Dakota

Not all flooded cars in North Dakota are salvage cars. Nor are all salvage cars flooded cars. But a flooded car that is a salvage car carries a special salvage title. Salvage cars cannot be driven on the open road until they are fully rebuilt and pass a safety inspection. Once a salvage car gets a rebuilt designation, it can be sold and driven.

Can I Buy and Repair a North Dakota Flooded Car to Get a New Title?

In North Dakota, you can’t get a new title after buying a salvage car and repairing it. Instead, the car will be a rebuilt title car, which means that its salvage history will follow it. Of course, getting a rebuilt title provides some assurance to buyers that the car is safe and meets state standards, so pursuing a rebuilt title is the best way to ensure a viable sale of your vehicle.

Tips for Successfully Entering the North Dakota Flooded Car Market

The state of North Dakota’s unique approach to flooded cars means that providing assurances to buyers is of paramount importance. It can increase the value of your car, but you should also take proactive steps to ensure that the car you buy is the one you think you’re getting. That means requesting a title report on each and every vehicle, and knowing how to spot a fraudulent title. The following strategies may also help:

  • Apply for a dealer’s license. This allows you to attend dealer auctions, which offer higher quality cars and lower prices.
  • Don’t finance a flood car, no matter how appealing it is. It’s always possible to lose money on these transactions, and financing a car that turns out to be a dud can send you into serious debt.
  • Get involved in online salvage car communities. This widens your market beyond your immediate geographic region, and can put you in touch with buyers who are looking for the exact car or cars you have available for sale.
  • Be honest with buyers. Misleading sales pitches can land you in legal trouble, and destroy your reputation.
  • Become active in your local dealer community. These are experts who can mentor you, let you know whether your strategies are likely to be effective, and welcome you into the dealer community.
  • Get to know the car market. Figure out which cars are in demand locally, and focus on providing those cars to buyers.
  • Educate yourself about cars. Choose cars that are in high demand in your local market, or else you may end up with a car you cannot sell.
  • Set a clear budget for each car you purchase and stick to it. Don’t allow bidding wars and ego to drive up the price of a car that should sell cheaply.
  • Have a clear plan of attack for repairing the car. Knowing what’s necessary and how long it will take from the outset can help you devise a plan for selling multiple cars, always having money on hand for repairs, and always making a profit.
  • Never attempt to obscure a car’s history as a salvage or flood vehicle. This illegal strategy, known as title washing, can land you in jail or in a costly lawsuit.