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Salvaged Vehicles in Montana

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So, you have a totaled car on your hands. What now? Do you hand it over to your insurance company, sell it, or rehab it back to working condition?

The Montana Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) gives you several options for dealing with a salvage vehicle—keep reading for details. 

What Is a Salvaged Car in Montana?

A Montana salvaged car is one that you or your insurance company determines is so damaged by an accident, flood, fire, or vandalism that the cost to repair it isn’t economical. Typically, this means repair costs outweigh the vehicle’s actual cash value (ACV) before the damage occurred.

Full vs. Partial Settlements

When your car sustains the high level of damage described above, your insurance company will probably have you file a total loss claim. Once your car is confirmed to be a total loss, you can accept:

  • A full settlement, in which your insurance provider keeps the car and pays you full damages.
    • If applicable, your only remaining responsibility could be to provide proof of lien satisfaction—otherwise, you don’t have to deal with the total loss vehicle anymore.
  • A partial settlement, where you keep the car and your carrier pays you partial damages.

The best choice for your circumstances will depend largely on your own insurance policy and financial situation—take the time to consult with your insurance carrier before making a final decision.

Next, we’ll go over the finer details of accepting a partial settlement, in which you retain ownership of the total loss car.  

Salvage Car Partial Settlement

So, you’ve accepted a partial settlement and want to hold onto your salvage vehicle, maybe to make a few bucks off it or to repair it and keep it for yourself. We’re all a little sentimental sometimes.

To start, your insurance provider will notify the Title and Registration Bureau (TRB) of the settlement and if your salvaged car is:

  • Under 5 years old: The TRB will contact you with instructions to surrender the original car title and apply for a salvaged title.
  • At least 5 years old: You don’t have to surrender the car title and the TRB will brand the car title as totaled.

Once you’ve sorted everything out with the original car title, you can either:

  • Sell the vehicle for parts (also called junking) to a business that buys salvaged cars for scrapping and/or recycling. OR
  • Apply for a salvage title and then a rebuilt title once you’ve made the necessary repairs and passed MT’s salvage inspection.

Even though you’ll have to put in some work, accepting a partial settlement does open up your options for dealing with a total loss vehicle. With the right motivation, you’ll still stand to make some money and could have your car back on the road again!

Apply for an MT Salvaged Title

You can apply for a salvage title with the Montana Motor Vehicle Division by taking the following items to your local county treasurer’s office:

  • A completed Application for Salvage Certificate of a Vehicle (Form MV206).
  • The original car title.
    • If your salvage vehicle is 9 years old or fewer, you’ll need to fill out the odometer disclosure on the back of your title.
  • Your Montana driver’s license.
  • Proof of lien satisfaction, if applicable.
  • Payment for the $5 salvage title fee—contact your county treasurer’s office ahead of time for acceptable forms of payment.

You’ll then receive your MT salvage title! From here, you still have the option of selling the car, maybe to someone who has the time (and money) to make the necessary repairs. Or, you can get to rebuilding the car yourself—remember, it will have to pass an inspection before the MVD issues a rebuilt title

MT Salvaged Vehicle Inspections

Once you (or a mechanic) have repaired your salvaged car to Montana’s safety and legal standards, it’s time to bring your vehicle in for an inspection.

You’ll need to schedule an appointment based on the type of inspection your vehicle requires. To learn more, refer to MVD’s information on Stage II VIN Inspections and Stage III VIN Inspections.

BEFORE heading out to your appointment, you’ll need to apply for a temporary registration permit through the Motor Vehicle Division. This permit allows you to legally drive your rebuilt vehicle to the inspection site.

Once you’re at the inspection site, you’ll need to pay the fee for:

  • Stage II VIN inspections: $18.50.
  • Stage III VIN inspections: $18.50.

Then, present the following items to the vehicle inspector:

  • The car’s salvage title.
  • Proof you paid the applicable inspection fee (i.e. receipt).
  • All bills of sale and/or receipts for the component parts used to rebuild the vehicle. These documents must include:
    • Names and addresses of the buyer(s) and seller(s).
    • Any applicable costs.
    • If parts were transferred from one vehicle to your own, the original car’s make, model, year, and vehicle identification number.

When your vehicle passes, the inspector will provide you with the necessary paperwork to apply for a Montana rebuilt title!

If you have additional questions or concerns about your salvage inspection, give the MT MVD a call at (406) 444-3661.

Rebuilt Car Title & Registration

To apply for your Montana rebuilt title through the Motor Vehicle Division, provide the following at your local county treasurer’s office:

Once everything’s in order, you’ll receive your rebuilt title and can legally drive your car again!

Contact the Montana MVD at (406) 444-3661 with any other questions you have about applying for a rebuilt title. 

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