Salvaged Vehicles in North Carolina

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When your car is so damaged it’s considered a total loss, you can either scrap it and make a few bucks or rebuild it to its former glory. Each option takes a few steps, which we’ll go over on this page.

What Is a Salvaged Car in NC?

According to the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), a salvaged car is one so damaged that the cost to repair it (including parts and labor) to safe operating standards would be more than 75 of the car’s fair market value.

More specific types of salvage-branded titles include:

  • Flood Vehicle: The car has been partially or completely submerged in water and the body, engine, and/or transmission is damaged.
  • Junk Vehicle: The vehicle is so damaged its only value is as a source of parts or scraps. The DMV will not title or register vehicles with a junk branding ever again.
  • Salvage Rebuilt Vehicle: The car is a salvage but you’ve rebuilt it to the state’s legal and safety standards so you can retitle and register it.
  • Reconstructed Vehicle: Major car parts have been removed, added, or replaced.

Your insurance provider will help determine if your car is a salvage and whether it requires special branding. If you have further questions about salvaged vehicle qualifications, contact the NC DMV at (919) 861-3500.

Total Loss Claims

When you have a salvaged vehicle on your hands, you’ll file a total loss claim with your insurance company. As part of the claim, you’ll decide whether you want to:

  • Transfer ownership of the salvaged car to your provider by satisfying any liens and then signing over the title.
    • Usually, your insurance carrier will pay you full damages on the car, after which then you don’t have to worry about dealing with the total loss vehicle again.
    OR
  • Retain ownership of the vehicle and apply for a salvage title yourself.

The best choice for your situation depends on the time and money you can commit to your salvaged car. Make sure to speak with your insurance agent about what they’d suggest, as they’ll have the best grasp on how much work the car needs. 

Apply for a NC Salvaged Title

When you accept a partial settlement and keep your total loss vehicle, your insurance company technically sells the vehicle back to you. After negotiating this transfer with your provider, you’ll need to apply for a duplicate title. The NC Division of Motor Vehicles will brand your duplicate North Carolina title as salvaged and mail you a paper copythis serves as your salvage vehicle title. 

After you receive your NC salvaged title, you can start reconstructing your car to safe and legal operating standards and eventually get it out on the roads once more. 

If you have further questions about obtaining a North Carolina salvage title, call the DMV at (919) 861-3500.

NC Rebuilt Car Inspections 

BEFORE you can retitle your car as a rebuilt salvage, the NC Division of Motor Vehicles requires it to pass inspection; depending on the vehicle’s age, multiple inspections could be required:

  • ALL salvaged vehicles must pass North Carolina’s required smog and safety inspections before being retitled.
  • Salvaged cars aged 6 model years or fewer must undergo an anti-theft inspection, performed by the DMV’s License and Theft Bureau.
    • Contact the License and Theft Bureau at (919) 861-3141 for specifics on what you’ll need for your anti-theft inspection.

Once you’ve passed the necessary inspection(s), the inspector will give you paperwork as proof your car is up to state regulations—don’t lose this! You’ll need it to apply for your rebuilt NC title.

For more information, be sure to check out the License and Theft Bureau’s guide to vehicle inspections.  

Apply for a Rebuilt NC Title

When you apply for a rebuilt North Carolina title, typically the DMV requires that you submit:

  • The inspector’s report(s) stating your vehicle passed the required inspection(s).
  • Your vehicle’s salvaged title.
  • A rebuilder’s affidavit, which must include the:
    • Parts replaced or used in repairing the vehicle.
    • Replacement major component parts.
    • Hourly labor rate and how many hours of labor it took to repair the vehicle.
    • Cost of replacing the air bag restraint system.
    • Presence of the “TOTAL LOSS CLAIM VEHICLE” sticker in the doorjamb, if applicable.
    • Total cost of repairs.
  • Proof of car insurance.
  • Your NC driver’s license.
  • Payment for the applicable title fees.

Call the NC Division of Motor Vehicles’ License and Theft Bureau at (919) 861-3141 for information on where to submit your rebuilt title application and the fees you’ll owe. These details will depend on your North Carolina county of residence and the specifics of your rebuilt vehicle.

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