James, Los Angeles

A salvage title typically means at some point in the vehicle’s history the car has been claimed a total loss by an insurance company because of an accident or flood damage. It can even happen in some states if it’s a recovered stolen vehicle – so all pretty much not good things. Also, government agencies routinely test new vehicles, and cars sold after the government gets its use out of them are given a salvage title as well.

When a total loss happens because of damage, the car can sometimes be bought back by the owner or sold to someone who will repair the vehicle and put it back on the road; when this happens it’s issued a salvage title. Laws and regulations regarding salvaged titles vary from state to state, so be sure to check with your state’s motor vehicle department for the most accurate information.

Salvaged cars typically go through an inspection by the state’s motor vehicle department before being issued a salvage title, but inspection procedures also vary by state and some may be a simple VIN code and emissions system check. Others may be a more thorough safety inspection.

Answered by Joe Bruzek on May 22, 2008 in I'm Just Wondering | Permalink

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