Buying from an online car auction can have some great benefits. The auctions allow you to find a vehicle that’s cheap and within your budget. Also, auctions tend to have a wide variety of available vehicles, giving you far more choices than a used car dealer.
Many of the vehicles sold through an online car auction are salvaged vehicles, though, and it is important that you know what these are, as well as what you will need to do to insure them in California.
What Does “Salvaged” Mean?
In California, the definition of a salvaged vehicle is one that has been completely destroyed, or that has damage greater than what insurance companies want to pay to fix the vehicle. Instead of having a regular title, the car receives a salvage certificate from the California DMV. Instead of transferring a title when selling the vehicle, this certificate becomes the ownership document.
Just because a vehicle is sold as salvaged does not mean that it is impossible to get it on the road again. There are still ways to repair the vehicle. When the vehicle is repaired, California allows the salvage certificate to be exchanged for a “revived salvage title”. At this point, it is possible to reregister the vehicle. However, you will need to go through a couple of other steps before this happens.
The vehicle will need to go through an inspection. This initial inspection, which checks that all the parts of the car were bought legally, can occur at the local DMV or at a California Highway Patrol station. Keep in mind that if you choose to go to the DMV, you will need to arrange an appointment with them first.
Also, you will also have to get a certificate stating that the brakes and lights are in good working condition. You can have this done at repair shops in your local area, as long as they have the correct certification to do the inspection.
If the vehicle originally included airbags, you will need to have them reinstalled in the vehicle.
There are a few other things you may be required to do, depending on the vehicle and the year it was made. You may need to get:
- A weight certificate
- A smog certificate
- A Statement of Facts explaining what was done on the vehicle.
- A vehicle Transfer or Reassignment
- A Declaration of Gross Vehicle Weight
- A detailed vehicle history
Once all of this is done and the car has been deemed drivable and safe, then you will be given a revived title. This is an actual title, not a certificate. And, that means your car can be legally registered. After you have gone through the registration process and you have license plates, your last step before driving the car will be to get insurance coverage.
You can also buy a salvage vehicle to use for parts. However, you will need to have all the paperwork that comes with the vehicle in order to register the vehicle that uses parts from the salvaged car.
Insuring the Vehicle
All vehicles on the road in California need to have insurance. In fact, laws enacted in 2006 require that the insurance companies let the DMV know if you lapsed in your insurance payments, and law enforcement has access to these records.
With a revived salvage title, it is possible to obtain insurance through a number of different companies. You will be able to get basic liability insurance so you can legally operate the vehicle. It may be difficult to get other forms of insurance, though, such as collision and comprehensive.
Also, you may not be able to get insurance coverage from the insurance company that initially declared the car totaled. You would simply have to go to another company to get your insurance.
Before you buy from an online car auction you should contact a few insurance companies and ask them about their specific policies and pricing for vehicles that have revived or rebuilt titles attached to them. Getting this information before the auction will let you know which of the companies will be your best option for getting insurance.
When buying a salvage vehicle from an online car auction, it’s also important to know the type and extent of the damage. This information tell you what type of repairs may be needed to get the revived salvage title.
Is It Worth the Hassle?
One of the questions that so many people continue to ask when it comes to buying salvage vehicles is whether it is worth the trouble. The main benefit is the fact that it will be cheaper than buying a new car, or even a used car of the same make and model in most cases.
The savings that you can find will often be good enough that you will still be spending less when you factor in the repairs than you would if you bought a new or used vehicle. You may need to do a little more work when it comes to registering and insuring the vehicle, but many find that it is well worth it.
However, when buying from an online car auction, it is a good idea to know what you are doing, so you can find the best potential vehicles. Instead of trying to go through the process of your first auction on your own, it may be a better option to work with a third party company that can take the confusion out of the process.
The right company can present you with a variety of choices of vehicles from multiple auctions, increasing the chance of finding one that’s right for you. They can also take care of the bidding for you and help you understand shipping.
Insuring a vehicle bought from an online car auction with a revived salvage title in California is possible, and it’s really not as much of a hassle as many believe. It’s just a few more steps, and then you will be able to get your vehicle legally on the road.