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Can You Turn A Salvage Title Into A Clean Title?

  • 3 min read

If you have a car with a salvage title, oftentimes the first question is can you turn a salvage title into a clean title? The short answer is no, but the long answer is that there may be an option in your state to get your vehicle back on the road legally.

What is a clean title?

A clean title is a vehicle title that has no title brands, temporary or permanent, and has no other security interests outside of the vehicle owner. This means, there is no active loan or financing on the vehicle. A clean title shows the vehicle owner’s name, free of title branding.

What is a salvage title?

A salvage title is a vehicle that has been damaged, wrecked, or destroyed and claimed as a total loss by an insurance company. To be considered salvaged, the insurance company will deem that it is uneconomical to repair the vehicle. This means that the vehicle owner at the time of the damage or wreck did not have the vehicle repairs made and the insurance company paid out a total loss claim for the vehicle instead.

Once an insurance company pays out a total loss claim, they become the owners of the newly salvaged vehicle. Salvage vehicles are most commonly sold at insurance auctions such as Copart or IAAI. Vehicles are sold with the salvage title brand to alert the buyer of the prior claims and damages. You cannot sell a salvage title as a clean title or claim it to be a clean title.

What is a nonrepairable title?

A nonrepairable title, also known as a junk title and certificate of destruction, is similar to a salvage title and is often used interchangeably. However, a nonrepairable title is a vehicle that has been damaged, wrecked, or destroyed, claimed as a total loss by the insurance company, and has no resale value other than scrap metal or parts. This sounds similar to a salvage title, nonrepairable titles are sort of a step up in severity from salvage titles. Nonrepairable vehicles are often burned, crushed, or damaged beyond repair. These vehicles, however, can be sold for parts or scrap metal often only to certified wreckers or crushers of vehicles.

What is a reconstructed or rebuilt title?

A reconstructed title, also known as a rebuilt title, is a title brand that can be applied when a salvage vehicle or nonrepairable parts are reconstructed together to create an entirely new vehicle. For example, if you had a salvage Toyota Camry, after reconstructing the vehicle with new parts, the vehicle will no longer be considered its original make/model because of the substantial changes to the vehicle. These substantial changes must be made to ensure the safety of the reconstructed vehicle.

Reconstructed vehicles are required to receive a brand-new vehicle identification number (VIN) from their local DMV agency. When a vehicle is branded salvage or nonrepairable, the VIN goes into the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System as never being eligible for a title as is again. These vehicles, however, can typically be sold for parts and scrap metal depending on the type of damage.

Every state has its own laws regarding reconstructed titles and the inspection process that accompanies them. Before purchasing a salvage or nonrepairable vehicle to reconstruct, make sure that the vehicle parts are eligible for a title, it’s worth it to fix up the vehicle, and that your state allows for this process.

Looking to get a title for a salvage or nonrepairable vehicle? Visit to get started!

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