A car is deemed necessary of a salvage title when two or more major components of the vehicle, such as the engine, body, doors or transmission are deemed worthless. Insurance companies are the only ones who can make that determination. Salvaged titles are normally a different color than original titles. A car that has been deemed salvaged can be re-issued a regular title if it is repaired and inspected by a specially trained police officer.
Cars with salvaged titles cannot be driven on the roads. Sometimes these cars are brand new and sometimes they are older. New cars are sometimes damaged for example by being flooded while on a dealership lot.
There are some instances where a car is stolen and considered “totaled” by the insurance company. The loss is covered by the insurance and the vehicle is referred to as a salvage vehicle. In most instances, cars with salvaged titles are sold for parts by salvage yards.
If you are attempting to get a clear title reissued you must do so in the same state in which the car was previously owned. That means you are not supposed to take a car with a salvaged title to another state and attempt to get it re-titled. Unfortunately, this does sometimes happen and people or car lots will try to sell the car without mentioning it had a salvage title in another state. This can and does happen and it used to be almost impossible to be sure that was the case. Now, checking the VIN of any vehicle will give a complete history on the vehicle. It would also show if a car was given a salvage title anywhere in the United States.
That is not to say that sometimes there are certain instances where a car was given a salvaged title, repaired and can last for years. The problem is hiding the salvage title, which is fraudulently sold as a “used” car. Buyers have more protection now with the availability to check the history of a car by the VIN or vehicle identification number. Because the VIN always stays the same on a car, it is easy to track what has happened to the car in the past. This is especially helpful when buying a used car to see if it has ever had a salvaged title.