What is Salvage title? US States Rebuilt Title Rules

Car Rebuilding and Title Rules for Iowa

By Mike Richards Updated: 04/14/2020 Posted: 10/28/2015

According to the Iowa Motor Vehicle Division, a salvage vehicle is one that has a gross vehicle weight rating that is less than 30,000 pounds and meets one of the following requirements: have an out of  state salvage title, was bought by an insurance company due to theft or damage, or the vehicle repair costs are greater than 50% of the current fair market value (if the value was more than $500) and was bought by a licensed recycler.

When a vehicle has a salvage title, it means you cannot drive it on the roads and you cannot register it. It will never have a clean title, but you can make repairs to the vehicle to obtain a prior salvage title, so you can register it and drive it.

Salvage Theft Examinations

In Iowa, it is required by law for all vehicles that have a salvage title undergo a physical exam by a law enforcement officer who is able to conduct examinations. The reason for this type of inspection is to determine whether there were any stolen parts used in the reconstruction of the vehicle. It also ensures that the person who is presenting the vehicle for the examination is the actual owner.

Most of the time, these examinations will only take about 45 minutes. However, if the vehicle identification numbers are not easily discernible, or if there are any issues with the owner documents, it could take longer.

When presenting the vehicle, you will also need to provide an Affidavit of Salvage Vehicle Repairs. The forms are available through the Iowa Department of Transportation’s website, the county treasurer’s office, the examining officer, or the Bureau of investigation and Identity Protection headquarters.

You also need to bring along all of the receipts, invoices, and bills of sale that show ownership of the parts used in repairing the vehicle. The current fee for this inspection is $30.

Driving to an Inspection

Vehicles that need to have an inspection will need to be brought into an Iowa DOT inspection facility, and you will need to make an appointment for the inspection. Vehicles can be towed or driven to the facility, but the operator needs to have an Affidavit to Operate a Vehicle for Inspection carried in the vehicle. Otherwise, it is not possible to take the vehicle onto the roads.

Getting the Prior Salvage Title

After you have completed the repairs to the vehicle, and you complete the inspection phase, you can register your vehicle and apply for a certificate of title. At that point, you will have a title that says prior salvage on it. This brand will remain on all of the future titles and registration renewals. However, you will be able to drive it on the roads again, once you get insurance coverage.

The process is relatively simple, but it does require a lot of paperwork. In addition, make sure you check with the Iowa Department of Transportation to make sure the fees have not changed.

Find information on Rebuilt Title Laws for Other US States. Explore our Vehicle Auctions and Buying With Us.