With the right tools, you can clear a salvage title on a car. We talk about the process and if it's worth the investment on your end.
A salvage title is a death sentence to a car. It means the vehicle suffered extensive damage in the past and is considered a total loss by the insurance company. If you purchase a machine with a salvage title, how can you get it cleared? Is the process worth it, or should you keep your money in your pocket instead?
You can get a salvage title cleared by purchasing the car, repairing any damage, and getting it inspected. The car can then gain a rebuilt title. The vehicle may appeal to insurance companies, but it's still risky.
A vehicle with a salvage title is cheap. If you're unfamiliar with this term and the steps required to clear it from a car, you're in the right place. We'll talk more about getting rid of a salvage title and if the process is worth the effort.
How To Get A Salvage Title Cleared
If you find a car with a salvage title, the vehicle has been considered a total loss by an insurance company. It has usually been in a critical accident. At this point, the cost to repair the vehicle is more than what it is worth. Many people abandon their cars rather than spending the cash fixing them. That's where an interested party steps up to the challenge.
If you are interested, plenty of salvage vehicles are available on the market. You can't drive a salvage title car. To sell or drive it, you must get the salvage title cleared. Let's discuss the necessary steps to turn a trash pile of a vehicle into something that could push down the street at a decent pace.
Invest In A Salvage Titled Car
First, you need to find and purchase a salvage car. It can be tricky to complete this first part. Look for a vehicle with a salvage title that doesn't have so much damage that it is impossible to make the necessary repairs.
You can find vehicles with a salvage title in in-person or online auctions, salvage yards, and some automobile dealers. You can get a deal at auctions and salvage yards if you know what you're doing.
Once you have the car, it's time to take it to your workspace. Examine the vehicle and determine what is wrong with it before moving forward.
Make Necessary Repairs
Now that you have the car, ensure you know everything that needs fixing. Purchase the parts and tools for the job and get to work. Take pictures as you go for proof after this section is over. Go overboard with the photos for the most efficient approval process afterward.
Listing out the troubles ahead of time also helps inform you how much cash the repairs will cost. Set a budget to help you determine if the fixes are worth it. If you love the car and repairs are cheaper than buying a new one, it makes sense to handle a salvage title.
Once you have made the repairs, double-check to ensure everything is in working order. This check will prepare you for the next part of the process.
Get An Inspection
Before applying to remove the salvage title, you need to get the vehicle inspected by the DMV. You have to submit various documents to them, such as the salvage title, bill of sale, photos, documents of repairs, and the process.
Remember, you can't drive a vehicle with a salvage title. You have to tow it to get it to the DMV. Plan for this process to ensure you have a way to get the car from one place to the next.
Apply For A Rebuilt Title
Once the car gets approval, it's time to apply for a rebuilt title. This form indicates to the world that your vehicle was once salvaged but has since been saved.
To get the form, head to your local DMV. They will provide you with various forms to fill out for the vehicle. You will also need to send the proof of inspection to your state's title department for the final stamp.
Once you get the paperwork, you're ready to go. You now have a car rebuilt to the point where it is okay to drive on the road.
Is It Worth It To Get a Salvage Title Cleared?
It's not too tricky to rebuild a car. Is it worth it?
Repairing a car takes time and money. If you need a quality used car but don't have much time on your hands, it doesn't make sense to get a vehicle with a salvage title. Instead, purchase a car with a rebuilt title. Paying a little more for someone else's work will save you time and money.
If you like the car and have time to work, it's worth it to get a salvage title cleared. It's all you want.
Of course, it's critical to note that rebuilt cars aren't as safe as options that haven't been in a wreck. If you want safety, clearing a salvage title is not for you.
Salvage Title By State
The requirements for clearing a title vary by state. It's important to be familiar with the variations just in case you need to remove a salvage title in a different state. You don't want to waste time removing the salvage title from a vehicle. The longer you wait, the more damage your car could add to itself.
We'll go over the salvage title removal steps for the states of California, Texas, Missouri, and Arizona. These are located in different quadrants of the United States and thus have varying requirements for the removal of a salvage title. Let's talk about each location.
How To Clear A Salvage Title In California
California has requirements tailored to the state for those who want to clear a salvage title. They're a little different than our general guidelines.
Here's how you can get a salvage title cleared in California:
- Invest in a car and repair the necessary damage
- Complete California documentation
- Get an inspection with a California-approved individual
- Head to the DMV for the final steps
You'll have a rebuilt car after these.
The biggest way the process differs is in the documentation and inspection. Both need to happen with papers and people approved by the state of California.
How To Get A Salvage Title Cleared In Texas
Texas is a little more to the east than California. Their guidelines vary from the state of California and our general directions for the process.
Here's how you can get a salvage title cleared in Texas:
- Apply for the salvage title if the car doesn't have one
- Make the needed repairs
- Get the car inspected at an inspection station
- Turn in necessary papers for the rebuilt title
You will have a car drivable in Texas after these steps.
Texas is a little different because it requires more documentation in the last step and costs money for the final product. You will need a valid ID, an application, a detailed rebuild statement, the salvage title, an inspection certificate, and proof of insurance. These go to the local tax office along with a $65 salvage fee. The fee for the title is between $28-$33.
How To Get A Salvage Title Cleared In Missouri
Missouri is up and to the right, a little more than California or Texas. Their requirements shift from the general, too.
Here's how you can get a salvage title cleared in Missouri:
- Apply for the salvage title if the car doesn't have one
- Make the necessary repairs
- Get an inspection, which costs $25 plus a $6 processing fee
You will then have a vehicle to drive around Missouri.
Missouri differs in the fees. You have to pay a little over $30 for the inspection and about $15 for the title after everything else is turned in.
How To Get A Salvage Title Cleared In Arizona
Last but not least is Arizona. This state is close to California, but the requirements are different for drivers here.
Here's how you can get a salvage title cleared in Arizona:
- Apply for a salvage title if necessary
- Make necessary repairs
- Submit documents for the rebuilt title
You have a car to drive to places in Arizona.
It costs a lot more to get the rebuilt title in Arizona. You should anticipate at least $100 for the process – $50 for the inspection, $4 for the title, $8 for registration, vehicle license tax, and $1.50 for the air-quality research fees.
It takes work to clear a car of its salvage title. Buy it, restore it, get an inspection, and file for a rebuilt title. After all, is said and done, you will have a drivable car on your hands.
Rebuilding cars isn't for everyone. It's an expensive and time-consuming process, and the result isn't as safe as other vehicles. However, for car lovers, it's worth every drop of sweat and grease to remove a salvage title.
Shawn Manaher is a former financial advisor, has founded 5 online businesses, and is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and author. He's been featured on Forbes, The Consults Corner on TAE Radio, The Writing Biz, What's Your Story, and more.