What Is a Damaged Car?

What Is a Damaged Car?

A damaged car can be described as a vehicle that has sustained enough trauma to effect its operational integrity. Sources of damage can include accidents, natural disasters or severe forms of neglect. Though salvaged cars are often classified as being beyond repair, ambitious buyers can purchase them with the goal to rebuild them and put them back on the market. While consumers can consider damaged cars that have been repaired to be financial deals, caution must be exercised before purchase to ensure that the vehicles meet inspection and safety standards. In addition, it can be prudent for potential vehicle owners to assess the specific ways that a car has been damaged, what repairs have been made, and future upkeep that may be necessary to maintain the vehicle.

What Is a Salvaged Car?

Salvaged cars are vehicles that have been severely damaged, but which have the potential to be repaired and made drivable again. These cars require that a fair amount of work be put into them before they can achieve "rebuilt" status. Cars that have been salvaged and worked on must be up-to-code and pass inspections before they can be suitable for operation again. Vehicles which cost more money to repair than their total value are often labeled as salvage property. Before being rebuilt and sold to a new owner, these vehicles often find a temporary home in junk or scrap yards.

Why Are Cars Repaired and Then Sold?

Typically, cars are repaired and sold to turn a profit. Salvage cars, especially, can be potentially sound investments for a skilled mechanic who is capable of returning the cars to a safe and functional condition. When trying to decide if a salvage car should be purchased and repaired, a buyer may inspect the vehicle to determine the extent of any damage present and whether he or she can satisfactorily address the problems. In cases like these, a purchase can be made based not only on the breadth of damage, but also on the skill level of the buyer. Buyers who have no history with automotive repair can also purchase salvage cars with the intent to commission a mechanic to rebuild the cars on their behalf.

Are Damaged Cars Used for Anything Else?

Since salvaged cars typically show extensive damage, one of their most common fates entails dismantling and the selling of individual, working parts. These parts can then be applied to the reconstruction efforts of other, compatible cars. For some, scavenging functional parts from salvage cars provides a cost-effective and sustainable method of everyday automotive repair. Great care, however, must be taken to ensure the functionality of these parts before their installation into other vehicles.

Damaged cars can also make great teaching tools. They often contribute to the successful training of emergency workers, automotive apprentices, or even future scrap workers. In some cases, their damaged classification is exactly what is necessary to train individuals, as it can closely mirror the conditions that they can encounter in their respective fields. Certain salvaged vehicles can also be rebuilt for show. Car enthusiasts, for example, may consider rebuilding a salvaged vehicle for nostalgic purposes or use them as part of their decor.

  • National Motor Vehicle Title Information System For States: This government-run, electronic database gives consumers easy access to cars' histories. It's intended to provide consumers with the tools that they need to verify information that they receive from sellers and make informed purchases.
  • How to Reregister a Salvage (Total Loss) Vehicle: The California Department of Motor Vehicles illustrates the process required to re-register a salvaged vehicle with the agency. It includes a list of the materials and documentation needed to expedite the process.
  • Scrap Titles: Michigan's Department of State details its slight, but important, differences between a scrap and salvage title. It also explains what a scrap title means to various entities, including individuals, dealers, and insurance companies.
  • Salvaged and Abandoned Vehicles: The North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles defines a salvaged motor vehicle. The agency also describes what reconstructed, flood, salvage rebuilt, and junk vehicles are to official, government entities.
  • Salvage Vehicles: The State of Nevada's Department of Motor Vehicles outlines the specific damage that can contribute to a salvage vehicle classification. This website also describes the process of owning and handling a vehicle that has been damaged in different scenarios.
  • Washington State Licensing for Salvaged Vehicles: Washington State's Department of Licensing details how its residents can report salvaged vehicles and surrender their titles. It also covers options for owners and answers frequently asked questions.