Cars with a Salvage Title: Collision Cars

September 8th, 2016 by
Salvage title car

There are many reasons why a car may have a salvage title. A serious accident is one of those reasons. Read this blog post to learn why buying such a car may not bee a good idea.


If you’ve ever done some serious shopping around for a used car, you’ve probably had this happen: You notice a car online that is just the sort of thing you’re looking for, and it catches your attention because the price on it is at least $2,000 cheaper than the others you’ve been looking at, maybe even $3,000 less. This is when you need to look very carefully at the listing and its vehicle history report to see if it has a salvage title, also called a branded title. Every state has its own designations for different kinds of salvage titles. Some of the words to look out for include the following:

  • Salvage
  • Junk or Non-Repairable
  • Rebuilt or Reconstructed
  • Fire
  • Flood or Water
  • Hail
  • Lemon
  • Theft Recovery
  • Vandalism
  • Odometer Rollback
  • Manufacturer Buyback

While the prices of these vehicles are very tempting, they also often end up causing you more headaches and hassles than you want to deal with. And if you ever go to sell it again, you’re not going to get very much money for it, if you’re able to sell it all. You certainly won’t be able to trade it in to any dealership. This article will focus on cars with salvage or rebuilt titles because the car in question was in a serious collision. The car’s title is branded because the cost of repairing it exceeds a certain percentage threshold of the car’s fair market value before the accident, typically in the 75-90% range. Note that if a car wasn’t worth very much to begin with, it can take surprisingly little damage for the insurance company to declare it a total loss. The DMV in the state will issue a salvage certificate for the vehicle, meaning it cannot be driven, sold, or registered in its current state.

What happens then is that the car is sold off, typically through an auction. Some dealerships or repair shops will snatch these vehicles up and repair them back to working order. If the vehicle meets a basic safety standards, then the state’s DMV will issue a new branded title that has some kind of notation about the vehicle having been salvaged or rebuilt because of the damage it received.

Here’s the thing – a car that has been totaled and then repaired does have to meet basic safety standards, but the operative word here is basic. It does not mean the car is really worthy of purchase. Here are some reasons to avoid a salvage or rebuilt title vehicle:

  • There’s no guarantee that all the repairs needed were done. And you don’t really know if the repairs completed were high-quality work.
  • Crumple zones designed into a vehicle’s frame structure are single-use features. So unless those zones have been replaced with new/used parts, they’re not going to perform they way they’re supposed to, which puts you in danger.
  • The electrical wires in the car may have sustained damage that isn’t readily apparent to whoever makes repairs to the vehicle. Hidden wires that have been chaffed or frayed by the accident and not found and replaced can cause car fires.
  • Alignment issues are pretty common because it’s really difficult to get a damaged frame total straight again. And it doesn’t take much to cause suspension and alignment problems.
  • Air bags are expensive to replace, making them the single-most likely safety item to be skipped when a totaled vehicle is repaired. Not good!

Those are the most obvious reasons to avoid buying a car that has a branded title from having been in a major collision. Save yourself the hassle and don’t be tempted into buying a used car with a salvage title.

At Auto City we do not sell or buy cars with salvage titles. To learn more on the topic of salvaged and branded titles cars, read these two articles: