Any time you buy a used car, it comes with a history. It has been driven a certain number of miles and had a number of maintenance services or repairs.
Some vehicles have been wrecked or exposed to unusual conditions that have led to damage. Some vehicles that individuals sell also have a lien against them because the current owner borrowed money to pay for them and the total amount of the loan has not been repaid.
A clean title means that there are no liens against the vehicle, but it also means more than that.
Explanation of a Salvage Title
When a vehicle is damaged, the insurance company evaluates the cost of repairing the damage and compares it to the value of the vehicle. When the damage to the vehicle costs more to repair than its value, or more than a set percentage of the value, it is considered a total loss, or the vehicle has been “totaled.”
The insurance will only pay up to the value of the vehicle, not the amount that it would take to be repaired. Once the owner has received payment, the vehicle becomes the property of the insurance company.
Salvage vehicles are sold to car auctions, salvage yards, and rebuilders, depending on the type and value of the car. These vehicles are then sold at auction or salvaged for parts. The prices are low because the vehicles have a lesser value than a vehicle with a clean title and because the insurance company hasn’t put any money directly into the vehicle.
Once a car is deemed a total loss, the insurance company usually contacts the local DMV and makes a report on the vehicle. Although the process differs in some states, this usually results in the car being given a salvage title. In addition to having no liens, a vehicle with a clean title also has no salvage title.
Salvage Title VS Unrepairable Car
Many people believe that a car that is totaled has been damaged beyond repair. In reality, the salvage classification is based on the cost of repairs in comparison to the vehicle’s value. Some cars are damaged to the degree that they are “unrepairable” and, as such, can only legally be sold in parts or as scrap.
A salvage vehicle is a good choice for some people, but not for everyone. These cars are sold at a price that is much lower than those of cars with a clean title. If they have access to cheap repairs or have the capability of doing the repairs themselves, they may be able to restore the vehicle to drivable condition. Once the vehicle is repaired, they may apply for a new “rebuilt” title, but they will never have a clean title for the vehicle.
The Matter of Insurance
Getting liability insurance on a vehicle with a rebuilt title is more difficult than for a vehicle with a clean title, but comprehensive insurance is even more difficult to obtain. This means that you can get coverage to cover the other car involved in an accident but not to cover the damage of your own vehicle.
For many drivers, the low price they pay for a salvage vehicle makes the risk of losing it due to additional damage is worthwhile. Some people even enjoy the option of re-building their salvage vehicle as part of a hobby.
Advantages of Buying a Vehicle with a Clean Title
Insurance is the most important issue when considering a salvage vehicle. In many cases, the buyer must accept the fact that if their vehicle is damaged, they will not recover their investment.
The same is not true of a vehicle purchased with a clean title. You will have the choice to get collision and comprehensive insurance coverage for any vehicle with a clean title. Still, buyers should realize that their insurance coverage is based on the actual value of their car and its classification. Even if you get a great buy on a vehicle and have to pay less for the car, you will have to pay insurance premiums based on the full value.
Saving Money on a Clean Title Vehicle
Drivers who decide to purchase a vehicle with a clean title rather than deal with the hassles of insurance can still get lower prices than they would find at the dealers. Buying from a car auction that is open to the public gives you the chance to purchase a used vehicle at low prices. The problem is that it is easy for the average car buyer to become confused about which car is the best for their needs and their budget once they are faced with such a large selection.
Another option is to go through a car broker. A broker is a professional who is comfortable in the high-energy environment of car auctions and who understands the values of vehicles. A broker has the knowledge to find a vehicle that matches with the buyer’s needs and get them a deal that will fit into their budget.
For anyone given the task of purchasing a used car, it is always a good idea to look at the title and make sure you are getting what you are being promised. If you purchase a vehicle with a clean title, you don’t have to worry about surprises occurring down the road. Of course, if you purchase a salvage title, you also want to make sure it is not unrepairable.
All of these types of vehicles and titles have a place in the market for the right buyer. To make sure these matches are made appropriately, the buyer should see the title or put the purchase into the hands of a broker if they are unsure of how to get the type of vehicle they want at the price they want to pay.