What is Salvage title? Buyer Tips

A Salvage Dealer Auction Can Yield Some Surprises

By Mike Richards Updated: 06/21/2022 Posted: 05/03/2017

Like something straight out of every gearhead’s best fantasy. An Illinois salvage yard decided to close after more than half a century in business. The thing about this spot was that it had been ignored and overlooked for a few decades.

It was packed to the brim with entire vehicles dating mostly to the 1940s and 50s. A true treasure trove, it is actually not so far from what you can find if you go online to enter salvage dealer auctions.

As you may or may not know, there are multiple kinds of vehicle auctions. There are dreamy luxury car auctions broadcast on network TV. There are public auctions that can include government surplus vehicles, and then there are dealers-only auctions. This is where salvage dealer auctions fit into the mix. Also, this is a type of auction in which the vehicles have titles that deem their salvage. This is a permanent condition. It doesn’t mean that a vehicle is condemned. Or it will spend its remaining years rotting away with parts used as scrap.

No, anything you find at salvage dealer auctions can also be restored and have itself deemed roadworthy. Each of the 50 states has different rules and regulations about how a vehicle from a salvage dealer auction can become a legally drivable vehicle again, but in all instances, it is possible.

This is good news for those who are eagerly looking for some treasures tucked away or awaiting their shot in a salvage dealer auction. For example, classic cars like those in the story mentioned at the beginning of this article, are always available. There are also exotics that have been damaged and now need restoration, and there are just premium vehicles that have been deemed salvage for any number of reasons.


Excellent Everyday Drives and Premium Rides

It is this last group that deserves a lot of your attention if you are seeking a high-end car at a bargain-basement price. Why? Well, if you know much about auto insurance, you know that insurance companies don’t like to pay for enormous overhauls or top to bottom restorations. Instead, they look at the current blue book or market value of a car or truck.  Look at the cost to repair. If it’s not a winning venture, they may “total” that car.

Something as simple as a bashed-in side fender could lead to a car being sent to salvage.

This is where you can slip in and get a staggeringly good deal. If you work with a licensed dealer willing to do the bidding and buying, you can scour the enormous listings of salvage vehicles about to go up for auction. Competition for them is usually minimal, and because you’d be bidding against fellow dealers, the pricing is likely to remain low. Win on all fronts and find some surprising deals when you rely on a salvage dealer auction.