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What is Salvage title? How to articles US States Rebuilt Title Rules

How Can I Buy and Restore and Rebuild a Salvage Car Not in a Salvage Center but by Myself?

By Mike Richards Updated: 05/22/2019 Posted: 10/23/2015

You can often find salvage cars at low prices from your local used car lots, and they are ideal for individuals with a limited income. Also, you can restore and rebuild a salvage car, and get it back on the road for less than you think.

At the same time, buying rebuilt salvage cars for sale that were rebuilt by someone else can lead to many problems. There is the risk that the reconstruction was done with substandard parts, or work on the car done poorly. There’s also the hassle of finding an insurer willing to provide coverage for your vehicle. It’s enough to put some off buying rebuilt salvage cars altogether.

However, if you restore and rebuild a salvage car yourself, you can end up with an extremely reliable vehicle that also cost you very little to buy and refurbish. Here’s what you need to know about the restoration and rebuilding cars process.

First, You Need to Buy Before You Restore and Rebuild a Salvage Car

Salvage cars come almost exclusively from used car auctions. Insurers write off vehicles after accidents or after they’ve been stolen. They take possession of these cars and then try to get rid of them as quickly as possible.

You can choose to attend an auction in person, or you use an online auction site to find someone who sells a salvage car. In any case, you can usually get one for a low price.

Remember that it’s illegal to drive any car with a salvage title. So, it’s better to have it towed. But once you get the salvage car home, you can start rebuilding it almost immediately. You always need to restore and rebuild a salvage car before getting back on the road.

However, before you do that, you’ll need to check in with your state’s department of transportation. You must learn everything you need to about the salvage laws in your state.

While many of these rules and regulations are similar, there are some exceptions. In fact, in some states, you have to document your repair process through pictures. So you shouldn’t start your repairs without checking first if this is a requirement in your state.

Restore and Rebuild a Salvage Car to Your State’s Specifications

Fixing your salvage car is usually the most time-consuming part of the process, but also the most rewarding. You’re getting your hands dirty taking broken parts and replacing them with new. You can get these from an auto parts store, a supplier, or even from other cars that ended up in a salvage yard. It can be a long process to restore and rebuild a salvage car.

While sourcing replacement parts in your salvage vehicle, make sure you keep every bill of sale or receipt. This will be essential for getting your salvage car certified as rebuilt.

How much does it cost to restore a car? Find information on Rebuilt Title Laws for Each US State.

Further Reading

Prepare For An Inspected

After you restore and rebuild a salvage car, it’s time to have it inspected by a state official (DMV). You need to schedule an appointment and then need to bring the car to a designated spot. They will then check the car and look at your paperwork.

State inspectors are often keenly interested in making sure Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) match between paperwork and physical parts. Identification is to ensure that no stolen bits are used to restore and rebuild a salvage car.

Ensuring nothing is stolen is often more important than making sure you rebuilt your car with care. Hence you can’t trust rebuilt salvage cars you find on a used car lot. Unless you do the work yourself, there’s no way of knowing if the car is safe.

Once you pass this inspection, you’ll have to submit your old salvage title in exchange for a new one. This new title certificate  often comes branded as “reconstructed” or “rebuilt.” This designation is to show it was once a salvage vehicle. Other than that difference, a rebuilt title functions the same way as a regular one. You can insure and register your car normally and get it back on the road once more.

Finally, Get Insurance

This last bit can be tricky. After you restore and rebuild a salvage car, you need to insure it. Insurers don’t like rebuilt salvage cars because they don’t know what type of work went into it. This makes it difficult to get insurance cover sometimes. Especially so if you want physical damage insurance like collision or comprehensive coverage.

Is there a way around this? Of course. You’ll need to have your car inspected yet again. This time the inspection is by the insurance company. This inspection is to show that the car is in good condition. Satisfy an insurer this way, and you too can have your new, fully functional rebuilt salvage car insured and on the road once more.