What is Salvage title? US States Rebuilt Title Rules

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

By Mike Richards Updated: 05/22/2019 Posted: 08/29/2017

When you picture yourself driving down the open road, the wind in your hair and the sun at your back, you probably don’t also picture an avalanche of debt slowly and steadily weighing you down. But for most Americans, that’s precisely what purchasing a new car means. Even used cars can carry hefty price tags, and paying in cash is out of reach for most people.

So how can you save on a South Dakota car purchase? Flood cars might be an option. These cars need significant repairs. But if you’re willing to put in the work, you could have a great vehicle at a fraction of the price. You may even be able to get a new title, and then sell the car for a profit—but only if you’re willing to put in some work.

About Flooded Cars in South Dakota

You’d be surprised how quickly a little water can destroy a car. Just a few minutes in water is enough to harm most vehicles. The problem is that a few minutes in water is rarely enough to cause external cosmetic damage. The result? Nothing good. Many flooded cars look completely fine, even though they’re unsafe to drive or in terrible condition.

South Dakota is one of just a handful of states that makes it difficult to discern a car’s flood history. Though most states have a separate title designation for cars with a flood history, South Dakota lumps flooded cars in with other salvage vehicles. This means you’ll know a car was salvaged, but you won’t necessarily know why. And that can make it challenging to assess its value and make a wise buying decision when buying a titled car.

Moreover, because South Dakota has no law requiring a specific designation for flooded cars, not all flooded cars have to be salvaged. This means that some used cars might actually be flood vehicles which have sustained significant damage. Thus anyone purchasing any car at all—not just those marketed as flooded vehicles or used cars—should proceed with caution, and make sure they know exactly what they’re getting.

Flood and Salvage Titles in South Dakota

Not all flooded cars in South 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 an South Dakota Flooded Car to Get a New Title?

South Dakota salvage cars, including flood cars, are permanently marked as salvage cars. You can, however, seek a rebuilt title. Indeed, this is required if you want to drive the car. The car must pass an inspection, and you must provide details about each and every part of the car you have rebuilt. This provides a potential buyer with details about whether the car has been improved from its original version, or is made from substandard parts. Thus a rebuilt title is vital if you want to sell a salvage South Dakota car at a profit.

Tips for Successfully Entering the South Dakota Flooded Car Market

Savvy buyers know that any South Dakota car could be a flood car. That means you’ll need to show why the flood car you’ve chosen is different, and why it’s safe to drive. The following strategies can help you successfully enter the market, and potentially turn a tidy profit:

  • Apply for a dealer’s license. This allows you to attend dealer auctions, which offer higher quality cars and lower prices.
  • 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 to repair 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.
  • Pay for flood cars only in cash. Financing a car that is severely damaged is a bad investment, and few lenders will even consider financing a flooded car anyway.
  • Get involved in online and in person 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.