You may come across a salvage title problem when buying a used car. Buying salvage title cars may turn out much more dangerous and expensive than just used cars.
Salvage title means that the value of the car is significantly decreased. Every year millions of cars are severely damaged in horrible wrecks, during thefts, vandalism acts or flood damaged. Many of them are totaled out by insurance companies. A total loss usually means that the vehicle is so badly damaged that repairing it up to roadworthy condition and safety standards is not cost-effective for the insurance company.
Such cars are considered junks and can be used for parts only. The insurer pays to the owner and in order to partially recover the loss sells the car at a salvage auction and at this point the car is issued a salvage title by the state. Such cars retain the salvage title in the US and Canada even after being properly rebuilt.
Safety question. Are you sure that a totaled car with salvage title was repaired by a competent mechanic and not a swindler who just patched it up to make a fast buck? A car with salvage title may have a bent frame that was not properly straightened, severely damaged parts that were not replaced or repaired. Or worse, it may be a “clipped” car with the back and front parts coming from different cars. It’s no good if your car falls apart when you are driving it…
In some states, salvage title meaning covers not just to damaged but also stolen vehicles.
Financial loss. Salvage cars are cheaper, you can save a few hundreds of a thousand dollars when you buy a salvage car. But in the end you will lose more because the chance to sell it will be little to none, so you will have to keep it until it falls to pieces. In addition, maintenance expenses on a salvage car will be extremely high.
The first step is VIN Number check and vehicle history report. Salvage title is not the only problem a used car may have, it can have odometer rollback and other flaws. For example, there were many cases when an insurance company sold salvaged cars to rebuilders with clean titles for extra fee. Also, a totaled car may be offered back to the owner as an insurance buyback, in this case the car still has a clean title because it was not owned by the insurance company and the owner is responsible for its repair. Are you sure the car you want to buy is not of that kind?
Vehicle history report helps discover many hidden problems in a used vehicle, not just salvage title. In as matter of minutes you may find out that the car you were planning to buy is not even worth consideration. You can get vehicle history report by the VIN in a matter of minutes for a very modest fee, which is not comparable with the cost of your time, efforts and money you could overpay for a clunker.
You should seriously consider VIN Number check and vehicle history report in the first place if you want to avoid a salvage title car.