Pros and Cons of Buying a Salvage Title Car

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You’re shopping for a new car and think you spot the one; perfect spec, clean exterior and interior, and it’s cheaper than you expected. After a closer look, you see why- the car has a salvage title. While salvage-titled cars are typically avoided, they do offer some specific advantages that will attract some buyers. This article will cover some important pros and cons to consider when purchasing a salvage title car.

What is a Salvage Title?

A car earns a salvage title from the state’s respective agency if the car has been deemed a total loss by an insurance company. Some incidents that may result in a salvage title include damage in a car accident, flood damage, or theft. Totaled cars are then usually sold at an auction or through salvage yards and can be found for a significant discount compared to their clean title counterparts. 

Pros of Buying a Salvage Title Car

Cost Savings

One of the most enticing aspects of buying a salvage title car is the potential for substantial cost savings. Salvage title cars are often priced well below their market value due to their damaged status. If you have the skills and resources to repair the car yourself, you can enjoy a significant discount compared to buying the same car with a clean title. This may allow some buyers to drive a car they may not normally be able to afford otherwise. 

Environmental Impact

Opting to buy a salvage title car reduces waste and the environmental impact of manufacturing new vehicles. Instead of contributing to the demand for new car production, you’re repurposing an existing vehicle and extending its service life. 

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Modification Opportunities

For a car enthusiast, salvage title cars are a blank canvas for mods. By spending less money on the vehicle overall, money can be put into modifying the car to the owner’s liking. Salvage title cars provide an ideal starting point for your customizations.

Parts Availability 

Since salvage title cars are inherently used, spare parts should be easy to come by. Finding replacement parts for salvage title cars can be easier and cheaper than sourcing parts for a newer car. 

Learning Opportunity

Buying a salvage title car can be a great learning experience for those gearheads interested in automotive repair and maintenance. Fixing up a damaged car will allow enthusiasts to develop their mechanical skills and gather hands-on experience to either get their car back on the road or running in its best shape. 

Cons of a Salvage Title Car


One of the primary concerns of buying a salvage title car is the potential safety risks involved. Depending on the extent of the damage and the quality of the repairs, a salvaged vehicle may not provide the same level of safety as an undamaged car. It’s crucial to thoroughly inspect a potential purchase, or even consider hiring a mechanic for a professional evaluation. 

Ensuring the Car

Many insurance companies are hesitant to cover salvaged vehicles due to their perceived risk. Some insurers may offer limited coverage or completely refuse coverage. Before purchasing, you should check with a couple of different insurance companies and prepare to pay a higher premium or limited policy choices.

Diminished Resale Value

When you decide to sell the car in the future, you’ll likely find it challenging to get a fair market price for your vehicle. Many buyers steer clear of salvage titles due to safety and reliability concerns. Car flippers and those looking for a quick turnover should steer clear if resale value is paramount. 

High Maintenance and Repair Costs

Salvage titles may require more attention in the form of maintenance and repairs. The extent of the damage and quality of repairs can impact the car’s long-term reliability. According to the accident lawyers at Maloney & Campolo, vehicle malfunctions are one of the most common causes of accidents. Unfortunately, salvage cars may be more prone to failure since their structural integrity may have been compromised by a prior accident. As the owner, you will have to invest more time and effort into keeping the vehicle in proper driving condition. Set a realistic budget and be prepared for any unforeseen costs. 

Difficult to Finance

Many lenders are hesitant to provide financing for these vehicles due to their perceived risks. If you need financing to buy a salvage title car, you may have to explore other lending options or consider a different route. 

Wrapping Up the Salvage Title Car Decision

Buying a salvage title car can be a cost-effective option for those looking to save money or learn the ropes of vehicle repair. However, there are several key disadvantages that should keep buyers weary. It’s important for buyers to know what they’re getting themselves into by taking on ownership of a salvage title vehicle. Consider the pros and cons and make an informed decision, a salvaged vehicle may be right for you.

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Dylan Miller

I am a Chicago native and regular contributor to "Locar Deals". I have a master's degree in English, am an automobile content creation specialist, and have written professionally for a variety of automotive companies over the past few years. I write on a variety of vehicles, from high-end luxury cars to ten-year-old gas guzzlers and everything in between. And I love sharing valuable car buying tips with consumers from all walks of life.

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