What’s the Value of a Salvage Title Car?
Written by : Ray Pierce
Last Updated: 02/03/2024

What’s the Value of a Salvage Title Car?

The value of a salvage title car is typically 20%-50%  less than it’s retail value if it had a clean title. The percentage can vary significantly, influenced by factors such as the extent of damage, the cost of repairs, and the make and model of the car. But here’s the catch: figuring out the salvage value isn’t the end of the story, it’s just the beginning. So buckle up, because we’re about to embark on a journey to decipher the true worth of a salvage title car.

salvage title car value


What is a Salvage Title Car?

A salvage title car is essentially a vehicle that an insurance company has deemed a total loss due to severe damage or theft. This means they’ve decided it’s not worth the cost to repair. But hey, don’t let that scare you off just yet. There’s more to it than that.

You see, once a car is branded with a salvage title, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unfit for the road. In fact, some of these vehicles can be repaired and put back into service. That’s where the term ‘rebuildable salvage’ comes from. It’s a car that, despite its battle scars, still has potential.

Though, it’s not all rosy. There are drawbacks. Buying a salvage car is a risk. You’re never quite sure what damage lies beneath the surface, whether it’s structural issues or hidden mechanical problems. It can also be a hassle to get insurance and financing for these cars. Plus, selling them later might be tricky.


What Factors Affect the Value of a Salvage Title Car?

Despite the risks and challenges associated with salvage title cars, understanding the factors that impact their value can help you make a more informed decision if you’re considering this route. Three main elements determine the value of a salvage title car: damage extent, repairs made, and the car’s intrinsic value.

Factors Description Impact on Value
Damage Extent Extent of the damage the car sustained More damage usually devalues the car
Repairs Made Quality and extent of repairs Good quality repairs can increase value
Intrinsic Value The car’s worth before it was damaged High intrinsic value can retain some value

The damage extent is the first thing you’ll look at. If the car’s damage is minimal, it’s worth more. Quality repairs can also boost a salvage car’s value. If a professional mechanic made the repairs, the vehicle could be worth more than if the repairs were DIY. Lastly, the car’s intrinsic value plays a substantial role. A salvage title luxury car may still have significant value despite its title status. Understanding these factors can guide you on what to expect regarding a car’s value.


How Do You Determine the Value of a Salvage Title Car?

To calculate the value of a salvage title car, you’ll need to consider the factors previously discussed: damage extent, repairs made, and the car’s intrinsic value. Understanding these elements is vital to appraising the worth of a vehicle with this type of title.

calculating the value of a salvage title car

But how do you go about this?

First, assess the extent of the damage. Is it cosmetic, or does it affect the functionality of the vehicle? Secondly, take into account the repairs made. Were they done professionally, or are they shoddy?

Next, consider the car’s intrinsic value. What’s the make, model, and year of the car? What was its value before it became a salvage?

Lastly, you may want to consider getting a professional appraisal done. An expert in the field can provide a more accurate valuation.

To sum it up:

  • Assess the damage: Cosmetic or functional?
  • Consider the repairs: Professional or shoddy?
  • Check the car’s intrinsic value: Make, model, year, and pre-salvage market value
  • Consider professional appraisal: An expert could provide a more accurate valuation


Are Salvage Title Cars Safe to Drive?

While understanding the value of a salvage title car is essential, it’s equally important to consider if they’re safe to drive. You might be thinking, “A car with a salvage title, is it even safe?” The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. It largely depends on the damage the car has suffered and the quality of repairs.

If a car has been labeled a total loss by an insurance company due to extensive damage, it can be issued a salvage title. However, if it’s properly repaired and passes inspection, it can be deemed roadworthy.

But here’s the catch; not all repairs are created equal. Some mechanics might cut corners to save costs which can compromise safety. On the other hand, if the car is repaired by a reputable professional, it’s possible for the car to be just as safe as before.


What Are the Pros and Cons of Selling a Salvage Title Car?

Selling a salvage title car comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages that you should consider carefully.

On the plus side, it’s a way to get some cash out of a used car that’s been deemed a total loss by an insurance company. You might not get top dollar, but it’s certainly better than nothing. Plus, you’ll be clearing space on your property and removing a potential eyesore.

However, selling a salvage vehicle isn’t always smooth sailing. Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons:

  • PRO: Cash in your pocket. Even though it’s not as much as you’d get for a car with a clean title, it’s still money you wouldn’t have otherwise.
  • PRO: Freeing up space. If you’ve been hanging onto a damaged car, selling it gives you your space back.
  • CON: Lower selling price. You won’t get as much money for a salvage title car as you would for a car with a clean title.
  • CON: Smaller buyer pool. Not everyone is willing or able to take on a salvage title car, so you might have fewer potential buyers.


Get the Value of Your Salvage Vehicle Today

If you have a salvage title vehicle and are looking to get a value of your car, we can help. Zippy Cash for Cars specializes in buying cars with damage, non-running or junk. No matter the age or condition, we can put a value on any car. It takes less than 2 minutes for our system to determine the value of a salvaged car. We buy salvage title cars every day and would love to add yours to our list.

Call us now and we’ll help you through the process.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Get Full Coverage Insurance for a Salvage Title Car?

You can’t typically get full coverage insurance for a salvage title car. Most insurers view these vehicles as high risk due to their history of significant damage, limiting your options to liability coverage only.

How Much Does It Cost to Repair a Salvage Title Car?

The cost to repair a salvage title car depends on the extent of damage. You’re likely looking at thousands of dollars. It’s crucial to get an accurate estimate before proceeding with any repairs.

Can a Salvage Title Car Be Sold Internationally?

Yes, you can sell a salvage title car internationally. However, it’s crucial to understand each country’s import rules as they’re often strict about accepting cars with salvage titles due to safety and environmental concerns.

Can a Salvage Title Be Cleared or Removed?

Yes, you can clear a salvage title. But, it’s not simple. You’ll need to repair the vehicle, get it inspected, and apply for a rebuilt title. It’s a lengthy process, but it’s possible.

Owning a salvage title car can carry legal implications. You’ll face restrictions on selling it and may encounter insurance issues. Ensure you’re informed about your state’s laws before purchasing this type of vehicle.


In the end, the value of a salvage title car depends on various factors, including damage extent and repair quality. While they’re often cheaper, safety isn’t guaranteed. Selling one has its pros, like a potentially quick sale, but cons too, like lower resale value. Always exercise caution and do your homework before diving into the world of salvage title cars. It’s a choice that comes with its own set of unique challenges and risks.

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Written by : Ray Pierce

Ray Pierce founded Zippy Cash for Cars in 2001 and has been in the automotive industry buying cars ever since. Starting off with 2 employees, Ray is proud to now have over 50 employees buying cars coast to coast.