What is A Salvage Vehicle?

A salvage vehicle is a vehicle that has been severely damaged in some way and classified as “salvage” by the insurance company because it was not worth the cost of the repairs needed to restore it to its original condition. The common major factor that determines whether it will be considered salvaged is if the vehicle lost three quarters or 75% of its value prior to the damage sustained. Vehicles are most often considered salvage when they have been involved in a serious accident, or considered a “total loss” because of damage sustained due to theft, fire, tornado, hail, flood or other accident.

What is A Salvage Vehicle Title?

Potentially a red flag! A salvage title is a form of title that is given to a vehicle that has sustained major damage or has been written off as salvage by an insurance company. This type of title is considered a “branded” title and means that at some point in the history of this vehicle, it was deemed a total loss by an insurance company. It also means that you may or may not be able to insure the vehicle in the future.

Does Every Salvage Vehicle Have a Salvaged Title?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is too often “no”. Typically, a salvage title vehicle is “sent to auction” after it has been fixed and because the price is significantly lower than regular used cars with clean titles, it often appeals to smaller used car dealers. Every state has different standards so the repairs can be shoddy or incomplete or both. The vehicle might look fixed but not really be fixed at all because a bent frame has not or cannot be straightened or damaged parts may not have been replaced or repaired at all. Air bags are a good example of this. Oftentimes blown airbags may not have been replaced and some companies even sell dangerous fake airbags that look like the real thing. Once the vehicle has been sold at auction, what happens next depends on state laws, but too often these vehicles become a proverbial “hot potato” as one car dealer realizes they’ve got a bad car and then sell it to another and so it goes. As the title is transferred, and again depending on the state, the branding doesn’t necessarily transfer with the title. When a title previously was branded and is then sold without the branding, it is referred to as “washing a title”.

How Do I Minimize the Risk of Buying a Salvage Title Vehicle?

1. Purchase a used vehicle from a reputable used car dealer. Check online reviews for the dealership and do not rely on those posted by the dealer. After all, he is not likely to post a bad review! Also contact the BBB to see how many, if any, complaints have been filed against the dealer.

2. Check out the vehicle history by pulling all three of the following reports:, and then click on NMVTIS (national motor vehicle title information system) report. Problem cars often get sold and resold again and again without anyone owning it for very long. And, if you see a vehicle being sold across state lines, that usually means that it went to an auction somewhere. Vehicles bought at auction often include vehicles that have been repo’d or previously wrecked and damaged,or worse. If something doesn’t look right, trust your instinct and find another car to buy.

3. Always have any used car or used truck inspected by an independent mechanic before you buy it. Sometimes all it takes is putting the car on a hoist to see rusted parts or a bent frame or a shoddy repair.

What Can I Do If I Find Out I Purchased An Undisclosed Salvage Vehicle?

First, take your vehicle to a new or used car dealer who sells your brand of vehicle new and ask them what it is worth if you trade it in. Don’t say anything about it being a salvage vehicle. After they give you a number, then tell them that it has a salvage title and ask them what they will give you now. That will give you some idea of the true value of your vehicle.

Next, and with that number in mind, contact the used car dealer that you purchased the vehicle from and see if you can get things worked out amicably. If you are unable to get things resolved within a short period of time, contact an attorney who is experienced with used car sales to determine what legal rights you may have.

How to protect yourself and your legal rights: If you live in Ohio or Kentucky or purchased the vehicle in Ohio or Kentucky, gather up your sales documents and any information that led you to believe you purchased a salvage vehicle and immediately contact the used car lemon law attorneys at Burdge Law Office at 888.331.6422. If
If you have a problem with a salvage car or salvage truck and have been take advantage of by a used car dealer, Burdge Law has extensive experience filing claims and lawsuits against car dealers that have sold salvaged vehicles. Don’t wait too long to contact an attorney with experience handling used car laws or some of your legal rights may expire.