Salvaged Vehicles in South Carolina

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If you’re involved in an accident or other event that severely damages your vehicle, you may have a salvage, or total loss, on your hands. This presents a difficult situation, but you have options for moving forward.

On this page, we’ll go over the different choices the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) gives you for dealing with a salvaged car.

What Is a Salvaged Car in SC?

When your insurance company settles a claim on your damaged vehicle, and determines the vehicle suffered damage that meets or exceeds 75% of the vehicle’s fair market value, the company must declare the vehicle a total loss—otherwise known as a salvaged car.

Your insurance company also has the option of declaring your vehicle a total loss if the car:

  • Suffered damage under 75% of the vehicle’s fair market value.
    OR
  • Has a fair market value under $2,000.

It will be up to your auto insurance provider to decide whether your car meets the total loss criteria associated with the company’s policies. Make sure you speak to your insurance agent about any doubts or questions you have about determining a vehicle’s salvaged status in South Carolina.

South Carolina Total Loss Claims

When your vehicle is badly damaged by an accident or other incident, you’ll need to file a total loss claim. Technically, your vehicle isn’t a “total loss” until your insurance company determines it is.

Once your provider declares your vehicle a total loss, you can choose to accept a:

  • Partial settlement, in which you keep the vehicle and receive payment for partial damages from your insurance provider.
    • Your insurance agent must apply for a South Carolina salvage title (for you), and then you can:
      • Sell the car for parts to a scrapyard or other type of car dismantling business.
        OR
      • Repair the car and retitle it for normal operation on public roadways; as part of the process, your vehicle will need to pass state inspections.
    OR
  • Full settlement, in which your insurance carrier keeps the car and pays you in full for damage.
    • Besides providing proof of lien satisfaction (if applicable), the total loss car is no longer your responsibility.

Partial and full settlements each have their own upsides and setbacks—take some time to speak with your insurance agent about the implications before making a final decision. Remember, regardless of the settlement you choose, your insurance company is responsible for notifying the SCDMV of your car’s total loss status and obtaining a SC salvage title

SC Reconstructed Car Inspections

So, you’ve opted for a partial settlement and have decided to keep and repair your salvage car. Once your auto insurance company provides you with a SC salvage title, you can start thinking about rebuilding the total loss vehicle.

You will need to take your vehicle to a licensed rebuilder in South Carolina for the necessary repairs. The rebuilding process requires a pre-inspection AND a post-repair, rebuilt car inspection. Keep reading for details on both.

Pre-Inspections in South Carolina

BEFORE a licensed rebuilder can start repairing your salvaged vehicle, you must first schedule an appointment with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles for a pre-inspection. Call the SCDMV at (803) 896-5000 for information on making a pre-inspection appointment.

Typically, a SCDMV employee will perform your inspection within 8 business days of your request; if the inspection is not conducted within 8 business days, you’ll receive information about a waived right to the pre-inspection.

For your pre-inspection, a SCDMV agent will come to the rebuilder’s place of business to look over and take pictures of the vehicle. Once that’s done, you can have your car repaired!

SC Rebuilt Vehicle Inspections

Once your salvaged car is repaired to South Carolina’s safe and legal operating standards, it’s time to schedule a rebuilt vehicle inspection appointment. Call the SC Department of Motor Vehicles at (803) 896-5000 for specifics on how to make this appointment.  

An SC DMV agent will conduct the inspection at your rebuilder’s place of business OR at another designated area, if necessary. Rebuilt car inspections cost $50 at the time of inspection; if the inspector must use a private facility lift to conduct the inspection, there’s could be an EXTRA fee of up to $35.

During the inspection, you and the licensed rebuilder must present specific records to the SCDMV inspector, including:

  • Receipts for all parts used to rebuild the car.
    • Receipts for parts taken from other vehicles must ALSO include the vehicle identification number (VIN) of each car from which the parts were removed.
  • Photographs of the vehicle from the pre-inspection.
  • Specific information about the:
    • Rebuilt car, including its make, model, body type, odometer reading, and VIN.
    • Owner (you), to include your full legal name and address.
  • Any applicable inspection certificates from the licensed rebuilder.

Once your reconstructed car passes inspection, the SCDMV inspector will give you a final certificate of inspectiondo not lose this! You will need this certificate to retitle your car. 

Retitle Your Car in South Carolina

Now that your reconstructed car has passed inspection, it’s time to re-title and register it with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles!

The process is similar to titling and registering any other car, HOWEVER you may need to provide ADDITIONAL documents, such as:

  • The final certificate of inspection—you will receive this once your car passes the rebuilt vehicle inspection.
  • Receipts and invoices for the parts and services needed to repair your vehicle.

The requirements could vary from situation to situation, so make sure you call the SCDMV at (803) 896-5000 to confirm you have everything you need to retitle and register your rebuilt car. When everything’s said and done, you’ll be able to legally drive your vehicle again!

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