How Does a Car Become Salvage?

Totaled Car
Getty Images/Martin Diebel

Salvage titles always come with a lot of questions. How a car goes from "normal" to salvage is definitely a process. If you have recently been involved in a major accident or are considering purchasing a salvage title vehicle it would behoove you to know how exactly how a car becomes a salvage.

The most common ways a vehicle becomes salvage is from a major accident or a natural disaster.

Major Accident: Actually the accident doesn't even have to be all that major if the vehicle is older and not holding much value at the time of the accident.

Sometimes seemingly minor damage can be the end of a clunker. Often these vehicles are sent directly to the scrap yard, but occasionally a salvage title can get added for those drivers who do not want to part with their vehicle.

A new vehicle can even become a salvage after a severe accident. Even if the insurance carrier does not want to mess with the repair, someone may be willing to take on the job. Once an insurance carrier says it is not worth repairing, it will be issued a salvage title.

Each state has its own criteria for what makes a vehicle a total loss also known as a salvage if repairs are made. Most states consider a vehicle with repairs costing 75% of its total actual cash value a salvage that is if repairs are made.

Natural Disaster: Flooding is the biggest culprit for turning a well functioning vehicle into a salvage. Many times the damage is not visible at all to a buyer. The water dries up and leaves little evidence behind.

However, the mechanics of a vehicle can be severely altered leaving the vehicle often times useless. Dealerships are at risk of losing their entire lot due to floods and hurricanes. Of course, many individuals have to deal with flooded vehicles too. Insurance carriers will cover flood damage if comprehensive coverage is selected.

More Reasons for a Car to Be Salvage

  • Kit Cars
  • Restored Antiques
  • Stolen Car Returned After a Total Loss Payout
  • Major Car Repair Using Aftermarket Parts

More Help With Salvage Titles 


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