If you’re buying a salvage car or any other salvage vehicle, there are steps you need to take before you can take it out on the road. Every state has different stipulations for what needs to happen before a salvage title vehicle receives a rebuilt title and is road-worthy again. Here, we’re giving you a general guideline of what you need to do to register a salvage car, but please look at your state’s requirements before making any decisions. Also remember that until a vehicle has been given a rebuilt title (again, this varies state by state), you cannot drive it on roads.

1. Buy the Vehicle

This isn’t always as easy at it seems. Every state has different requirements surrounding the purchase of a salvage vehicle, such as having a dealer’s license. Often, you can use a broker to facilitate the sale. With AutoBidMaster, you can bid on and buy a wide variety of salvage vehicles at auction, no dealer license required. See what we’ve got here.

2. Assess the Damage

Now that you’ve got it: figure out what’s wrong with it. A vehicle typically receives a salvage title because of physical or mechanical damage that exceeded the vehicle’s market value by a certain percent. If possible, get a copy of the insurance company’s original estimate, it may serve as a good guideline for where to start. A certified mechanic is also a good way to go to get an idea of what the vehicle needs to be repaired.

3. Repair the Vehicle

After you’ve figured out what you need to do – it’s time to start wrenching. Make sure you keep all receipts of parts and take photos of everything you do to repair the vehicle – it’ll come in handy when you take the vehicle for its inspection. If a mechanic makes the repairs, have them do the same if possible.

4. Get the Vehicle Inspected by the DMV

Again, every state has different regulations and checklists for clearing a salvage title vehicle and giving it a rebuilt title. Check in with your state’s DMV to see what your state requires, specifically and keep in mind you can’t legally drive the car yet, so you’ll have to have it towed to the DMV. Any receipts for parts you’ve purchased are important here to prove that everything was acquired and done legitimately.
Once the inspection is complete, the inspector will attach a decal and/or provide paperwork indicating that the vehicle can now apply for a rebuilt title.

5. Apply for a Rebuilt Title

Now you can apply for a rebuilt title, which means filling out paperwork and paying fees. Again, this varies state by state, so check in with your local DMV to see exactly what needs to get filled out.

So, now that you know what you need to do to register a salvage car or vehicle, you can start your search with our Vehicle Finder! We have lots of options, from salvage to clean titles across cars, trucks, SUVs, motorcycles, ATVs, and more!