What is Salvage title? US States Rebuilt Title Rules

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

By Mike Richards Updated: 05/22/2019 Posted: 08/16/2017

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the abundance of choices car buyers in Indiana face. Should you buy new or used? From a public dealer or a private vendor? Is certified pre-owned a good option? And how can you save the most money?

If you’re interested in saving a significant chunk of change, you might find yourself stumbling across flooded cars. These cars are in poor condition, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be restored. Depending upon your budget, time constraints, and purchase goals, it may make sense to purchase a flooded car in Indiana and then fix it to obtain a new title. Here’s what you need to know.

Indiana Flooded Vehicles: A Primer

Flooded cars often look fine to the naked eye. This is because just a few inches of water can completely destroy a car, so while a car may be severely damaged, the damage might not have been sufficient to make the car look bad. Nevertheless, the car may have extensive engine or undercarriage damage, irreparable damage to the frame, or be growing mold in the seats. It may essentially be a different car, or totally undrivable.

This is why the state of Indiana regards flooded arch with such skepticism. Until such a vehicle is inspected by a skilled mechanic, there is simply no way to know whether it is safe to drive, and to what extent it is damaged. Moreover, some cars branded used or even new actually have a flood history. Thus it’s in the buyer’s best interests to demand a title and full vehicle history report on any and all purchased cars.

Salvage Titles and Flooded Cars

Is a salvage title car the same as a flooded car in Indiana? Yes and no. Most flooded cars are salvage cars, but not all salvage cars are flooded cars. Most flooded cars are declared a total loss by the insurer, which means they are too expensive to justify repairing. These cars gain a salvage designation. Some other non-flooded cars can also be deemed salvage cars, but the effect is the same: the car needs extensive repairs to be drivable.

In Indiana, salvage cars cannot be driven on the open road. That means a flooded car cannot be driven, and will need extensive repairs to be made safe to drive. Act accordingly when you purchase such as car, and ensure you can afford to repair it and that you have a way to transport it to its final destination.

Can I Repair a Flooded Car and Get a New Title?

Repairing a flooded car is a great way to increase its value and attract the attention of a buyer who wants a discounted car. But you won’t be able to get a brand new title that obscures the car’s history as a flooded or salvage car.

Indiana allows owners to repair flooded cars to make them safe to drive. These cars receive a salvage rebuilt title that denotes their prior salvage history, but also suggests they are safe to drive. Salvage rebuilt cars might not have been rebuilt with the original parts, so they may be of substantially lower value. Conversely, it’s possible to rebuild flooded cars with better parts—such as a higher quality engine. In either case, rebuilt cars may differ significantly from their original form, and buyers will want to know specifically how the car has been altered.

A word to the wise: Some owners, desperate to offload flooded cars, drive them to other states and register them as used cars, in an attempt to obscure the car’s history as a flooded vehicle. This is a crime that can carry severe criminal and civil penalties. Resist the temptation. It can ruin your business, your reputation, and your life. It is never worth it.

Tips for Buying, Selling, and Repairing Flooded Cars in Indiana

If you hope to earn a profit buying and selling repaired flood vehicles in Indiana, know that it’s possible to earn an excellent living doing this. Registering for a dealer’s license can help you gain access to auctions that offer the highest quality cars at the lower prices. Likewise, becoming involved in your local community offers you a group of ready-made mentors how can provide you with insights into the industry and the assistance you need to succeed.

Before purchasing any car, you should always request a copy of the title and then pursue a vehicle history report. Never blindly trust the word of a seller, since sellers have an interest in misleading buyers to get a higher price. In the same vein, be prepared to provide buyers with a full report, and details about any and all repairs you have made to a salvage or flooded vehicle.

Knowing the market can also help. Some cars tend to earn a higher price, particularly if they are already of a high value or difficult to find. Other cars are totally undesirable, particularly if the market is flooded or the car is inexpensive. You’ll need to carefully weigh the cost of fixing the car against its total potential value, and you may need the wisdom of a skilled mechanic as you make this decision. Ultimately, buying and selling flooded cars is a process of trial and error, and you need to be prepared not to make money on every car you sell. This is why you should never finance a salvage or flooded car.