Tag Archives: repairable title car

Photograph Repairs To Your Salvage Car

So you bought that salvage title vehicle at auction. The next step after you get the car is to make the repairs. Your goal is to get the vehicle roadworthy, and for that to happen it must pass inspection. You might need to photograph repairs to your salvage car Maybe your state is one of those that requires you to submit before and after photographs of the build.  A friendly reminder: ALWAYS check your state’s regulations and the titling process. This article is purely informational and it’s not meant to be a comprehensive guide on what you need to submit to local authorities. That is something you need to research on your own.  

All I Want Is A Photograph

Among the States that require before and after photographs of your vehicle are New Jersey and Connecticut. Let me add that even if your state doesn’t require photographs, it is a good practice to document your build. You can certainly try to provide pictures to supplement what you submit to inspectors. It might be useful to them while inspecting the car and potentially help your case.   

You will need photographs, before and after the repairs take place. Usually, they have to be color photographs and “must be clear and cannot cut off any portion of the vehicle.”  

New Jersey Salvage Title Inspection specifically requires:

At least 1 photo of the entire front and left side of the vehicle (before and after repairs). At least 1 photo of the entire rear and right side of the vehicle (before and after repairs). Note: If repairs were started before pictures could be taken, a damage report from your insurance company is required. This report will substitute only for the before photos.

Connecticut’s photo requirements are a little more detailed:

Clear photographs of the repaired/replaced areas of the vehicle are to be presented when inspected attached to the Salvaged Vehicle Repair Report. The photographs must clearly:

  • 1. Show the entire vehicle by four photos, one from each vehicle corner i.e. left front, right front, left rear, right rear.
  • 2. Show the damaged area(s) prior to repairs.
  • 3. Show the repaired areas with the new parts/panels installed prior to any seam sealing, painting, or rust proofing.
  • 4. Show how the new parts were attached (welding).
  • 5. Show the area prior to painting and corrosion proofing (if the area is no longer visible).

Photograph The Salvage Vehicle Before, During And After Repairs

You can clearly see that Connecticut requires you to show how new parts were welded, while New Jersey doesn’t require that kind of detail. But, even if that wasn’t the case, you can still take extensive photographs during the actual repairs. Providing photos of a new replacement quarter panel being attached and welded to the frame is good evidence of work performed using good parts. Pictures of that same panel being primed and painted shows what is currently on the car.  

Photograph the repairs to your salvage car

Rear End Torn

Pictures during the repair process (e.g. after removing paint) can show the true extent of damage you might not catch during the standard “before” pictures. Other pictures can show exposed areas of the car in good condition. This type of evidence can be useful for showing to banks, insurers, and potential buyers down the road. It tells everyone what was the problems were and how they were fixed.

How To Get A Salvage Car Ready For The Road Again – Part 1

Salvage Title Automobiles

Salvage Honda Accord

A salvage title vehicle is one that has been written off by the insurance company because the cost to repair the salvage car exceeds its estimated value. This will vary from state to state, but for the most part, that number is over 60% of the value of the salvage car. At that point, the insurance company will write-off the car, pay the claim and request a salvage title for the car.

A salvage title vehicle is also considered a “branded title”. It informs potential buyers that the vehicle was written off by insurance due to collision, theft, flood, hail, and vandalism, among other reasons. This tells authorities that the car is not street legal; it can not be driven on the road.   Salvage title vehicles cannot be driven in other states as well, with each Department of Motor Vehicle recognizing the other State’s certification.

Rebuildable Vs Non-Rebuildable Salvage Title Car

Many of these salvage cars can be made roadworthy. One important exception is that certain cars titled as “for parts only” or “salvaged nonrebuildable” cannot be rebuilt.  The issuing state has made a determination that the car in question is only good for parts and should be eventually scrapped.

For cars with a salvage “rebuildable” designation, it means that they can be repaired and put on the road again. However, the stigma of a salvage title vehicle will always remain with the vehicle. That means it will be hard to finance or insure, and it will never attain the value of a used car.   

Vette Sold For Scrap Metal

Nonrebuildable Corvette

Rebuildable Corvette

How To Certify The Rebuilt Salvage Car

The process itself is fairly similar, with some variations by state. If you have a salvage title automobile,  you have to repair it and pass state inspection. In a few states, you first have to get permission to perform the repairs. In a large number of states any individual can perform the work, in others, it has to be performed by a licensed mechanic. Make sure you check state rules. Bottom line: get the work done making sure the repairs are done by the book!

When you are doing the repairs, keep in mind that many states also require documentation of the whole process. That can mean pictures, from before, during and after the work done. It also means all receipts for parts. The reason behind that is to make sure parts off of stolen cars aren’t used in rebuilding cars. Best practice is for the person doing the work to fully document and photograph the repairs. That will pay off at inspection time.   Not only that, but it can also help with financing, insurance and subsequent sale of the vehicle. You show what was wrong with the car and what you did to make the car roadworthy. 

Make sure to read Part 2, where we will dive into the actual inspection.

Repairable vs. Nonrepairable Title Salvage Car

Repairable And Nonrepairable Salvage Car Titles

When shopping for salvage cars for sale there is a very important distinction.  Some salvage cars are repairable, but others are not. In general, a car that has been written off is deemed salvage, and the title is issued or marked as such for any future buyers.

Some of the reasons that may give a vehicle a salvage title include collision damage, flooding, theft, hail, etc.  For example, Oregon defines an Oregon Salvage Title Certificate as a “legal document that indicates the vehicle was totaled, wrecked, dismantled, stolen, or abandoned. It also indicates ownership of the vehicle.”.

Why Do Cars Have Norepairable Salvage Title?

Nonrepairable Salvage Car Subaru

Hello Wrecker

Some salvage cars are titled ”non-repairable”.  The State of California DMV  defines it as  “a vehicle that has no resale value except as a source of parts or scrap metal, and which the owner irreversibly designates solely as a source of parts or scrap metal.” You are basically buying a bunch of parts and junk metal.

There are some limited exceptions (classic cars, for example) but that’s for another article. For the most part, this classification means that the nonrepairable titled salvage car cannot be titled as anything but destined for dismantling and junking.

Once a car or truck is declared nonrepairable, the general rule is that no other state will grant it a rebuilt title. Oregon, for example, will not issue a salvage repairable title to any vehicle that has the following designations in the out-of-state title :

• Destroyed
• Dismantled
• Hulk
• Junk
• Non-rebuildable
• Nonrepairable
• Parts only
• Scrap
• Wreck, Dismantler, or Wrecker only

Nonrepairable Lexus Destined For Parts

Definitely Scrap Heap Potential!

Why Cars Are Repairable Salvage

There are salvage title autos that are repairable. That is, with proper repair work and inspection, state authorities will title it as a “rebuilt”, “reconstructed” or “operable salvage” to use the examples of Florida, Oregon, and New Jersey, respectively.

These inspections are pretty exhaustive, and in some cases involve showing photographs of the work performed, before and after and proof of the sourcing of major components, such as engines and drivetrain.  

Why Would You Buy A Nonrepairable Salvage Title Car?

First, an important caveat: you might not be able to buy a nonrepairable salvage vehicle.  Certain states require the buyer of a nonrepairable parts car to be properly licensed to purchase and/or dismantle them. Other states will issue a certificate of destruction with the understanding that the owner is going to dispose of the vehicle.  

The owners of a project car may want to have a “parts car” to use as a good source of parts for their present project. A nonrepairable car can have valuable parts, such as body trim, interior, engine and frame components that are in good condition and may be sold in online sites or swap meets.     

Lexus Wrecked Nonrepairable

Ouch, Probably Not Repairable!

Wrecked Nonrepairable Interior For Parts

But That Interior!!!

Remember To Always Research The Title Of Any Salvage Auto

In the end, the main rule is to look carefully when buying a salvage titled vehicle online. Make sure the title is rebuildable in the state it comes from. Go to that state’s DMV and research what the term from the title means. A careful buyer can even make some money back selling parts of a nonrepairable salvage car.  A repairable salvage car or truck can be a great daily commuter or simply a weekend toy.

Don’t get stuck with a nonrepairable car, when you expected a project car to drive around. A little time investigating the origins of the car can pay off with a properly titled vehicle.   

Once you have made the decision, check out the auctions for salvage autos here.

 

How To Get A Salvage Car Ready For The Road Again – Part 2


In part 1, we told you about how to prepare for the inspection process for repaired salvage cars. In Part 2, we will talk about the actual inspection.  

Are You Ready?

The Inspection Process For Salvage Cars

Once the owner of the salvage title car or truck has repaired the car and taken the photographs, it is time to assemble the documents, showing where each major component used in the repair was sourced from, and go to the actual inspection. Depending on the jurisdiction that can mean going to a repair shop that is authorized by the state to do the inspections, or it can mean some sort of governmental entity or officials. For example, in the case of Michigan, inspectors are law enforcement officers from the county the owner resides, as is the case with Wisconsin, where the certified salvage title inspector is a law enforcement officer.  

Every state requires proof of the origin of major components and parts used in the build. That includes the VIN number of any donor vehicle. Major components, as defined by the State of New Jersey, are:

Engine Transmission/Transaxle, Front Bumper, Rear Bumper, Each Quarter Panel Decklid, Tailgate, Hatchback Roof (Including T-Tops) Cowl Nose (fenders, hood, bumper, radiator support) Front clip (cowl, frame section, shock, and apron structure)  

Missing Some Major Components

You Can’t Drive Your Salvage Car To The Inspection!

One thing that is true across the board is that the vehicle will have to be towed or trailered to the location. It seems like common sense.  But some people can get overexcited once they have finished that project car. Nothing like showing off that new ride, right? Well, not yet. As mentioned before, the inspectors also happen to be traffic police or state troopers in many states. 

This could happen on the way there!

Inspection Time

Colorado Inspector

The inspector will usually go through the paperwork.  Then will then physically inspect the vehicle.  For the most part, it means looking to see if the car is complete, with all safety equipment in place. The State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation states that: “inspections ensure the vehicle and its individual parts are not stolen, have the proper equipment and are in safe operating condition.”

If the inspection is successful, the owner will be issued a certificate of title that certifies the car is driveable but will remain marked with a “branded title”.  That title could include “rebuilt”, “repaired” or it can even be called “salvage” repaired. Those are different than a “clear title”. But for the owner, it does mean the car can be driven. Not only in the state the person lives in, but across state lines, since a rebuilt title will be recognized by other states, in the same way, that a salvage title will.

Where To Get a Salvage Car

Now that you have read this, why not consider getting a salvage car for fixing up? Check out the Copart Auto Auctions where tens of thousands of cars are listed daily. Normally,  you would need a dealer’s license when you buy salvage cars. However, when you use a registered Copart broker, there’s no need for such a license. Good luck!