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

How To Buy a Theft Recovered Car at an Online Auction?

By Mike Richards Updated: 05/22/2019 Posted: 10/19/2015


When a vehicle is insured against theft, and is recovered, it’s usually totaled. This might be due to it having sustained damage, or because it was declared a total loss after a specific period of time passed without it being recovered. These cars will often then be sold at auction by the insurance company.

What Is a Salvage Vehicle?

For insurance purposes, a totaled vehicle is one that would cost 60-70% of the replacement cost to repair. The insurance company writes the vehicle off and pays the owner the replacement cost. Then the vehicle ends up at auction as a “salvage” vehicle.

If you’re considering buying a theft recovered vehicle, you’ll want to determine the extent of the damage, and think about what it will cost to restore it. Unless you’re just up for a challenge, and you have deep pockets, this is an important consideration.

The level of damage in a theft recovered car could be minimal – perhaps the interior has been trashed. Or the car was stolen by joy-riders who crashed it into a tree, resulting in body damage. A car that has been stolen and burned is probably not a great deal, but other types of damage could be corrected, especially if you have access to an inexpensive source of parts.

As an example, a car with a trashed interior could be fixed up very nicely and inexpensively with seats and carpets from another junked vehicle. It’s the same with fenders and bumpers – just visit a junkyard, get what you need, and restore your theft recovered car.

Registering and Insuring a Salvage Car

Of course, a salvage care is not drivable, and you’ll have to prove that you’ve done the necessary repairs in order to license and insure your restored vehicle. This will involve proving that you have restored the car to a drivable state. Any parts that you use in the restoration will have to be documented in order to convert the “salvage” title to a “clean” title.

Then you have to worry about insuring your rebuilt vehicle, and realistically, most insurance companies are going to be reluctant to accommodate you for anything other than PLPD (personal liability and property damage) insurance.

You’ll have to prove that your restored vehicle is every bit as good as anything else on the road, and that could mean submitting to an inspection by the DMV or at the very least by a mechanic appointed by the insurance company. That’s simply because insurance companies are reluctant to take a chance on a vehicle that’s already been wrecked.

The Final Word

You can get a great deal on a theft recovered car at auction. But you’ll have to face some difficulties to get it insured. That said, if you love to rebuild cars, or if you’re just looking for a great deal, a theft recovered car can be a good option for you.

You can buy one at a “real life” auction, or buy online at a virtual auction. Online auctions are sometimes open to the general public – more often when it comes to salvage cars than with new cars. If you’re not comfortable in an auction environment – and many people aren’t because they’re pretty fast-paced – you can always use a proxy bidder.

Proxy bidders are companies that bid on your behalf to get you the vehicle you want, and can even deliver your theft recovered car to your door for a nominal fee. All you need to do is state how much you’re willing to bid, and leave the rest up to your proxy.

Find information on Rebuilt Title Laws for Each US State. Explore our Vehicle Auctions, as well as finding more information about How These Auctions Work.