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How to Get a Salvage Title Cleaned? Everything You Need to Know

Regina Minton
Auto Blogger
Last Updated 18.07.23

What is a Salvage Title?

A salvage title can be described as a legal document that shows that a car has been deemed a total loss by an insurance company due to severe damage or theft. This status significantly affects the vehicle’s value and insurability. The car becomes known as a ‘salvaged car,’ and instead of a regular title, it gets a ‘salvage certificate.’

However, it’s possible to clear the salvage title. Doing this will transform the vehicle back to a regular one after necessary repairs and inspections. Thus, making the car road-worthy and ensuring its safety. These procedures vary from one state to another. Therefore, it is essential to consult local DMV or professional services for proper guidance.

Importance of Clearing a Salvage Title

Clearing a salvage title is crucial for a multitude of reasons. These include:

Solve Insurance Issues

Generally, a car with a salvage title can be challenging to insure. Many insurance companies are hesitant to provide coverage due to the inherent risks associated with a previously totaled vehicle. Clearing the title and obtaining a rebuilt title can ease these concerns. It signifies that the car has undergone necessary repairs and is deemed safe for the road.

Increase the Vehicle’s Market Value

Furthermore, a cleared salvage title can increase the vehicle’s market value. Typically, salvage vehicles are sold at a lower price due to the ‘total loss’ status. However, if the salvage title is removed after thorough inspections and repairs, it can increase the vehicle’s resale value.

However, the process of how to get a salvage title cleared involves a comprehensive inspection. This will be done to confirm the car’s roadworthiness. Thus, reinstating confidence in potential buyers. This remains a crucial step for anyone seeking to restore and sell a salvaged car.

Is it Possible to Remove a Salvage Title from a Car?

Yes. It’s possible to remove a salvage title from a car. This involves undertaking a repair process to restore the vehicle to roadworthy conditions. It is then followed by a comprehensive inspection by an authorized Department of motor vehicles representative. If the salvage vehicle meets all safety standards, the salvage title can be replaced with a rebuilt title. Thereby indicating that the car, though previously damaged, is now safe for use on the roads.

How to Clean a Salvage Title

Here are the procedures involved in cleaning a salvage title

Step 1: Repair the Salvage Car

The first step in getting a salvage title cleared is to repair the vehicle designated as a total loss by an insurance company. It’s crucial to document this repair process thoroughly. You need to keep detailed records of all work done, parts used, and the certified mechanic who performed the repairs.

After a comprehensive repair job, the vehicle should be brought back to roadworthy conditions. Thus, ensuring it meets all safety standards. Remember that the goal is to transform the salvaged vehicle into a car that’s safe and legal to drive on public roads.

Step 2: Vehicle Inspection

After the repairs, the next step is to have the vehicle inspected by a certified inspection facility or inspector. The aim here is to verify that the car has been restored to a safe, operable condition, adhering to the motor vehicle laws of your state. In addition, the inspector will:

  • Review your documentation.
  • Inspect your vehicle for any stolen parts.
  • Ensure all repairs are done correctly.
  • Ascertain if the car is indeed roadworthy.

Also, an inspection fee is often required for this process. The vehicle inspection stage is critical to validate that the salvage car has been adequately repaired and is safe for use.

Step 3: Apply for a Rebuilt Title

Following the successful inspection, you can now apply for a rebuilt title from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). You’ll need to provide the following documentation:

  • The original salvage title
  • Proof of your car ownership
  • Inspection documents
  • Detailed repair receipts.

If everything checks out, the DMV will issue a new title for your car. This is often called a ‘rebuilt title.’ The rebuilt title effectively replaces the salvage certificate, and it signifies that your car, although once declared a total loss, has been adequately restored and inspected.

Step 4: Insure Your Vehicle

With the rebuilt title, you can now approach insurance companies to cover your car. While some insurers may be wary about providing full coverage for a rebuilt vehicle, you’ll usually be able to obtain liability insurance, which is a legal requirement in most states. Shop around to find an insurance company willing to provide the level of coverage that suits your needs.

Step 5: Avoid Title Washing

Lastly, it’s essential to beware of ‘title washing’ when buying or selling vehicles with rebuilt titles. Title washing refers to the illegal practice of moving a salvaged vehicle to a different state with less strict title laws to get a clean title. This is a deceptive tactic that is usually done to effectively hide a vehicle’s history as a salvaged vehicle.

Furthermore, always perform a comprehensive vehicle history check when dealing with salvage or rebuilt titles. This will help maintain transparency and legality. By doing so, you ensure that your cleared salvage title accurately represents the car’s history. Thus, protecting both you and future potential buyers.

Is Purchasing a Car with a Rebuilt Title a Good Idea?

The decision to purchase a car with a rebuilt title comes with its pros and cons, and it largely depends on the individual’s situation and risk tolerance.

One significant advantage is the cost. A vehicle with a rebuilt title is typically much cheaper than a similar used car with a clean title, making it an appealing option for those on a tight budget. If the car has had all the necessary repairs and passed inspections, it could offer decent value for money. Buyers willing to invest time and effort into researching the vehicle’s history and inspecting it thoroughly can sometimes find a reliable car at a significant discount.
However, there are notable downsides. The primary concern is the car’s safety and reliability. Even if a damaged vehicle has been repaired and issued a new title, it might still have hidden issues that weren’t identified during the repair and inspection process. These problems can lead to unexpected repairs down the line. Hence, potentially negating any initial cost savings.
Moreover, buying a vehicle with a rebuilt title involves some risk of title laundering. This illegal practice involves a salvage or rebuilt title being illegally altered or moved to a different state with lax title laws to get a clean title, essentially masking the vehicle’s true history. It’s a serious crime, and potential buyers should be cautious. Always cross-reference VIN numbers and check multiple sources when verifying a vehicle’s title and history to avoid falling victim to such schemes.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, while buying a car with a rebuilt title could potentially save money upfront, it does come with a set of challenges and potential risks. Buyers should exercise due diligence and, in some cases, consult with a trusted mechanic before final paperwork is advised. This will help ensure that you’re making a well-informed decision.


What is a salvage title?

A salvage title is a legal document issued by a state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to indicate that a car has been declared a total loss by an insurance company due to severe damage or theft.

Can any vehicle with a salvage title be cleared?

Not all vehicles with salvage titles can be cleared. It depends on the extent of the damage and whether the car can be restored to a safe, drivable condition meeting the state’s vehicle standards.

What documents are required to clear a salvage title?

To clear a salvage title, you’ll typically need the original salvage title, detailed repair receipts, proof of car ownership, and the vehicle inspection report confirming the car’s roadworthiness.

How long does it take to clear a salvage title?

The timeframe to clear a salvage title varies depending on the extent of repairs needed and the specific DMV’s processing time. It can range from a few weeks to several months.

Can I clear a salvage title without repairs?

Actually, a salvage title can only be cleared with repairs. The vehicle must be restored to a roadworthy condition and pass a comprehensive inspection to get a salvage title cleared. Once the salvage title is cleared, it will be replaced with a rebuilt title.

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