How to Sell a Car That's Been Totaled

January 27, 2012

After an accident, you find yourself in possession of a damaged vehicle and decide you want to sell it, here is the process on how to sell a car that has been totaled. Before beginning, you must understand there are rules and laws to follow when attempting to sell the damaged car. This can be a cumbersome process and you should check with the state laws before embarking on the process of selling a salvaged car, as you don’t want to create legal problems for yourself. That being said, it is perfectly legal to sell your totaled car; it just requires a bit of additional work on your part.

Step 1: Recognizing a Totaled Vehicle

First, you must see if your car is in fact totaled. Totaled is a definition used by insurance companies to describe a vehicle that will cost the insurance company more money to fix than the car is worth. Have your insurance provider inspect the vehicle to make sure it is totaled beforehand.

Step 2: Salvage the Car

Once your car is totaled you can now sell it to your insurance company. This will make the car a salvage car. Some insurance companies will buy the car and salvage it themselves, meaning you won’t have the option to sell it. Since insurance companies often pay you, the owner, the money for the totaled car, they have first rights to do with it as they wish. As legally they now own the vehicle.

Step 3: Obtain a Salvage Certificate

Now that the car is a salvage car, you can bring it to the department of motor vehicles in your city and apply for a new title. The motor vehicle department can issue you a salvage certificate in lieu of your old car title. This certificate is important as your vehicle. No matter what condition it is repaired to, it will always be considered a totaled, salvage vehicle. This means insurance rates may be different and most warranties are, or will be, void on the car.

Step 4: Sell Your Car

With a salvage certificate, you can now sell the totaled car. The easiest way to do this is to take it to a car dealership. Once at the dealership explain your car is a salvage and you will sell it for cash. Many dealerships buy salvage vehicles for various purposes, including re-sale, or auctions. Some dealerships deal exclusively in totaled, or salvaged vehicles, as they are able to make a substantial profit selling them back to the public. A second option is to sell your car to a private party. Since salvage titles mean increased insurance costs, these can often be difficult transactions to make. If a private party sale doesn’t work, or you can’t sell the car to a dealership, you can almost always sell it to a junkyard for scrap or donate it for a tax credit. In both cases, junkyards or charities will often transport your vehicle at no cost to you.

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