In Montana, you can buy a salvage vehicle with the intent to repair or rebuild it. Then you can get it re-titled as rebuilt instead of salvage (though the title will still show that the vehicle was at one point salvaged). Then you can either register to insure a salvage car in Montana DMV to drive it yourself. Or you can sell it to another buyer.
If you’re interested in rebuilt salvage title cars in Montana for their resale value after you get done fixing them, you should be aware that you must disclose the vehicle’s history to the buyer when you sell it. Furthermore, salvage cars typically have lower resale values. They can sometimes hide damage, and insurance companies are less inclined to give them full coverage.
However, with the low prices you can get on salvage cars at auction, if you can keep your repair costs down, you can still make a good profit selling the salvage cars you buy and fix. Or you can just enjoy a really great deal on your own personal car. Of course, to do either of these things, you will need to go through the process to make your car legal to drive again.
Why Salvage Cars Need to Be Re-Titled
You may be confused about why a salvage car needs to be re-titled if it’s fit to drive. Cars get salvage titles when insurance companies deem them to be total losses. They then get re-titled for use only for parts or scrap, even if they are still technically drivable.
So, while you’re doing the repairs on your salvage car, remember that it is not legal to drive it on any public road. If you need to take it to the shop or when you need to bring it in for inspection, you will need to arrange to have it towed or brought in on a flatbed truck.
The Re-Titling Process in Montana
In Montana, before you can get your car re-titled as rebuilt instead of salvage, you’ll need to first get a salvage inspection performed. You can have either local law enforcement or the Field Operations Bureau of Motor Vehicles Division do this inspection. The purpose is to ensure that all necessary repairs have been done and that neither the vehicle itself nor any of its major components are stolen.
When you come in for your inspection, be sure to bring with you:
- Your salvage title or certificate.
- Receipts or bills of sale for all components used in repairing the vehicle.
- $18.50 inspection fee.
Once the inspection is done, you’ll receive a copy of the inspection report, and the inspector will send the original and copies of all proof of repairs (receipts and/or bills of sale) to the Montana Title and Registration Bureau. At this point, you can visit your local MVD office to apply for a rebuilt title and a registration certificate.
When you go to the MVD office, bring with you:
- A copy of the car’s inspection report.
- Your driver’s license or other official ID.
- A copy of your completed title application.
- Payment for your rebuilt title and your registration fees.
After you’ve shown all of the necessary documentation and paid your fees, you’ll be issued your rebuilt salvage title. At this point, you can finish the process by getting insurance for your car and getting it registered.
Insurance Can Be a Challenge
Getting to insure a salvage car in Montana can be a challenge. Insurance companies generally aren’t thrilled with insuring salvage cars because they cannot know for certain that the car does not have some structural damage that was overlooked in the rebuild and re-titling process.
If you are just looking for liability insurance, this is usually not a problem. Your insurance company will only be responsible for paying for damages to another party’s vehicle in an accident. However, if you want collision or comprehensive insurance to cover damages to your own car, you may have to do some more research.
You may be able to negotiate with your existing insurance company for more coverage. Or even better premium rates than they would offer a new customer. You may want to agree to pay a slightly higher rate for now. Or negotiate a new rate and/or more coverage when you renew your insurance policy.
Once you’ve chosen an insurance policy, take your rebuilt title and proof of insurance to your local tag office. Then, the final step in the whole process is just like registering any car. Your salvage car is now just like any other car on the road, so registration is simple and easy.