What is Salvage title?

Salvage Car For Sale: Where to Buy Salvage Cars

By Mike Richards Updated: 06/21/2019 Posted: 04/12/2017

Salvage Car For Sale

[auctions title=”salvage”]

What is a Salvage Title?

Knowing that a car for sale is a salvage car tells you little about the vehicle itself. Salvage or rebuilt title cars for sale in the USA are cars that have been salvaged by insurance companies. In other words, they’ve been totaled or declared a “total loss”.

Buying salvage title vehicles is a great way to save big on a car purchase. But where should you go to buy a salvage auto? Here are your best options to find a damaged car for sale.

Salvage Car For Sale

Repaired Salvage Cars for Sale: A Primer on Salvage Cars

That a salvage auto has been totaled doesn’t tell you much about whether it’s safe to drive, how it will look, or whether it can be resold. The auto salvage status will remain present on the title unless you pursue title restoration, so that can affect resale value. So, most salvage vehicle dealers sell vehicles for a minimum of 5% of market value, and often even cheaper. Salvage title cars are not suffering from normal wear and tear, and will usually need significant repairs to be done to them. Salvage auction cars are usually rebuildable cars – they are damaged cars with a salvage title that can be fixed and issued new documentation, making them rebuilt title cars. These rebuilt title cars (repaired salvage cars) are now ready to drive.

Further Reading

Factors that affect the value of salvage cars, trucks, vans or other repirable vehicles include:

  • The car’s history: a salvage car with a detailed history is less risky to the buyer.
  • The demand within the market for the car: a limited edition car, one that’s no longer available, and high-value luxury cars typically go for more. Also, price depends on the brand of the car (Nissan, Toyota, Ford F-150, Acura, Chevrolet, Dodge, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, etc.) and type auto (SUV, sedan, etc.)
  • The extent of the damage to the car: cars with merely superficial damage may be easily repaired, but wrecked cars with damage to the frame can be money pits. A flood-damaged car is a separate risk category. If the buyer does not know into which category the car falls, they should assume the car needs substantial work and pay a lower price. There is a large difference between a car suffering from normal wear and tear, that has been stolen and recovered, to a car that’s narrowly missed out on a certificate of destruction.
  • The local market for the car: in some areas, salvage auto are in higher demand than others. That’s why so many salvage car dealers go online. They want to benefit from the higher demand in non-local markets.

Avoid Buying Salvage Vehicles From These Places


Unscrupulous sellers take their salvage cars far and wide. But some places have more of a reputation for dangerous and misleading salvage cars than others. In some cases, sellers even alter the odometer readings, offer fraudulent titles, sell stolen cars, or knowingly sell vehicles with severe damage that renders them unsafe to drive. If you can, steer clear of:

  • Local dealerships with bad reviews or a questionable reputation.
  • Individual salvage vehicle sellers unless they can give you several good references.
  • Online buy, sell, and trade sites such as Craigslist.
  • International sellers; it’s much safer to buy salvage autos for sale in the USA. When you buy abroad, unless there’s a guarantee from the seller, it can be tough to ensure the vehicle is as the seller claims.

If you’re unsure of the vehicles’ status you should contact dealer offices mentioned on the listing.

Salvage Car Auction Sites

Salvage car auction sites are an excellent one-stop resource for buying and selling salvage vehicles. You can control by car location, type, and certification. Many online salvage auctions also specifically vet sellers to ensure that consumers are not taken advantage of. In some cases, the site even helps consumers find insurance or import cars.

You’ll find the price on salvage cars a lot lower than those on clean title cars. This is where you make/save the money.

Local Mechanics

It might seem weird to buy a car from a mechanic, but they’re actually a great resource. Many mechanics buy and fix up salvage cars as a hobby. Others are connected to people in the industry and can give you a heads up about who is legitimate and who’s just looking to scam someone.

Even if you don’t buy from a mechanic, a local mechanic you trust can be a valuable resource on the journey to purchasing a salvage vehicle. So, try partnering with the mechanic to inspect the car, thereby potentially increasing its value, safety, and even its resale potential.

Online Salvage Sites

Online salvage sites are an excellent spot to buy salvage vehicles. Some dealerships even have a salvage section. The larger the site and the more guarantees it makes, the safer the purchase you make will be.

buy used cars online

Questions to Ask Before Buying

It’s not always possible to get a full, reliable history on a salvage vehicle. That’s one of the reasons these cars tend to be cheaper than used cars. Before investing in a salvage car, however, you need to think carefully about whether you’re prepared to undertake the project. Some questions to ask yourself include:

  • Do I have financing, or the ability to pay in cash?
  • Is my insurer going to cover a salvage car?
  • How to find a mechanic I can trust who can inspect the car?
  • What am I hoping to use the car for, and am I certain it will work for that purpose?
  • Am I counting on reselling the car? What if I can’t?
  • Does my state allow reconstructed titles?
  • Do I need to drive this car immediately, or can I take time to get it insured and inspected?
  • How much will repairs to this vehicle potentially cost?
  • What are the fees? How much is car shipping? Do you have a cost calculator?

Salvage Car Auctions

So, are you interested in salvage auto auctions to purchase a vehicle? View some of the latest salvage cars for sale, or use our advanced search to tailor your search results to the vehicle you want, or for example, whether you want to search for a clean title or not. You will find a huge variety of vehicles, including cars from the USA, like the Ford Mustang, Ford F150, Chevrolet Camaro, Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Charger or Jeep Wrangler Unlimited.

But you will also find popular cars from all over the world: Land Rover, Toyota Highlander, Mini Cooper, BMW M4, Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, Nissan Rogue or Nissan Massima, Triumph Motorcycle, Honda Civic EX, Various Recreational Vehicles, Range Rover, Nissan Altima, Nissan 370z and Chevrolet Malibu.

You can even find luxury makes like Alfa Romeo and Aston Martin. Just use the advanced search on our homepage.

Example Auctions

[auctions title=”salvage”]