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How to Salvage a Car: Rebuild and Register a Salvaged Auto

Date posted: 06/27/2012

by Melissa Crumish on
in Registration & Titling

1130 How to Salvage a Car: Rebuild and Register a Salvaged Auto

If high prices are thwarting your quest to purchase a new or used car, consider buying a salvaged vehicle and rebuilding it.

By definition, a salvaged vehicle is one that has been declared a total loss and, in its current state, cannot be registered or driven.

Auto auctions often feature salvage cars at bargain prices.

After purchasing the salvage vehicle, you will then need to make it road-ready. You can do this yourself or hire a mechanic. Either way, make sure you follow your state’s salvaged auto requirements.

Rebuilding Salvaged Vehicles: Basic Requirements

Resalvaging terms vary by state, but in general, expect all or some of the following requirements:

  • Document every added part. This means filing every sales receipt, regardless of how small the cost or how insignificant the part. Police sometimes request receipts as a way to verify no parts from stolen cars were used.
  • Document the repair process by snapping before and after photos. The more photos the better.
  • Pass a vehicle inspection. Depending on your state, this will either be with a law enforcement agency or a certified shop or inspector. The vehicle will be inspected to make sure it meets all state vehicle codes and safety requirements.
  • Have the auto’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) verified. Depending on state, this may be part of the vehicle inspection process.
  • Complete a new title form. This goes under different names. Michigan calls it a Salvage Vehicle Recertification form, while New York uses its standard Application for Vehicle Registration/Title.
  • Turn in the vehicle’s salvage title to your DMV.
  • Provide proof of sales tax payment or purchase price.
  • Provide an Odometer Disclosure Statement.
  • Show proof of car insurance, if applicable.
  • Pay the title fee.

Stringently follow your state’s requirements. If you meet them all, your DMV will issue you a branded title, forever identifying the vehicle as rebuilt. The car is then ready to be registered and returned to the road.

Have you ever rebuilt a salvaged auto? What advice or tips would you offer others?

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