Salvaged Vehicles in Alaska

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The Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) considers a reconstructed vehicle to be one that has major parts added, removed, or substituted; often, this includes what other states refer to as salvaged vehicles. Once you rebuild the vehicle and it passes inspection, you can apply for a title and registration and hit the road.

What Is a Salvaged Vehicle in AK?

Largely, insurance companies define a vehicle as a salvage or “total loss” when it’s so damaged it would take more money to repair the vehicle than the vehicle is actually worth.

However, a total loss doesn’t have to be an actual total loss. There are several ways you can deal with the vehicle to either make a profit and/or get it up and running again.

DMV.ORG TIP: What is "actual cash value"?

Your vehicle’s actual cash value is its fair market value; simply put, how much it’s worth right now (as opposed to when you bought it). Insurance companies consider a variety of factors when determining a vehicle’s actual cash value, including—but not limited to—its age, mileage, and wear and tear.

Options for a Salvaged Car

There are several ways to handle a total loss car.

Generally, the first step is filing a total loss claim. Your Alaska insurance company will inspect the vehicle and if it deems it a total loss—and you don’t dispute it—you can either:

  • Accept the full settlement, i.e. the entire actual cash value—the insurance company will keep the car.
    OR
  • Accept partial payment and either:
    • Sell the car for parts.
      OR
    • Rebuild the car. Many states refer to a rebuilt car as a “salvaged car,” but Alaska uses the term “reconstructed vehicle.”

If you choose to keep the car and rebuild it, note that:

  • A reconstructed vehicle is one you’ve altered from its original state by adding, removing, or substituting essential parts (i.e., the chassis, body, or engine).
    • If you replace ONLY the engine, the vehicle is not a reconstructed vehicle.
  • You must title and register the reconstructed vehicle before you can legally drive it again.

AK Reconstructed Vehicle Inspections

Before you can title and register your reconstructed vehicle, it must pass an inspection by an Alaska DMV representative or approved law enforcement officer. Contact the AK DMV to make an inspection appointment, and to ask for a trip permit to bring your unregistered vehicle.

The inspector will record technical information related to the:

  • Odometer reading.
  • Engine number.
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN).
  • Model year determination.
  • Federal certification label status.

He or she also will inspect mechanical parts to make sure the vehicle is street legal. These parts include, but aren’t limited to, the:

  • Vehicle operation and body condition.
  • Head, tail, and brake lights.
  • Foot and emergency brakes.
  • Windshield and defrost system.
  • Steering system.

Remember, these are just a few things the inspector will check. For a complete list, refer to the Verification of Vehicle (Form 811) document. Make sure the agent fills in the form when your inspection is over. 

Title & Register a Reconstructed Car

Once your vehicle has been rebuilt, it’s time to title and register it.

First, make sure you completed your AK reconstructed vehicle inspection (see above).

Next, submit the following to your local AK DMV:

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