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Should a Salvage Title Stop You from Buying That Used Car in California? 

What if buying a car was more affordable than you ever imagined? It is when you purchase a car with a salvage title. 

A vehicle with a salvage title will always sell for less than other vehicles, but potential buyers find themselves asking questions. For example, what is a salvage title, and how does purchasing one affect your existing car insurance

Such a purchase is a big decision and can be a bit scary, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re on the fence about buying such an automobile, keep reading to discover everything you need to know about buying a salvaged car! 

What Is a Salvage Title? 

What does “salvage title” mean? A salvage title is given to vehicles that have previously been written off by insurance carriers as a loss. Such vehicles have been damaged to the point where repairs will cost more than their market value. They are often sold at a deep discount. Buyers would likely need to put in some repairs of their own in order to get the most out of their purchase. 

In California, salvage vehicles are not legal to drive on the road until they have been properly repaired and inspected. After that process, the salvage title can be restored, and you can both insure and legally drive the car. It’s important to keep the potential repair costs of the vehicle in mind before making such a purchase. 

Pros and Cons of California Salvage Titles 

If you’re wondering what is good about a salvage title car, the primary benefit is the price. Buying a car with a salvage title could be a good purchase for someone who is on a strict budget. In some cases, you might be able to get a great deal on an automobile you otherwise couldn’t afford.  

If you’re handy when it comes to automobile maintenance (even in the heat of summer), you may be able to repair everything on your own. On a related note, California drivers who repair and restore vehicles often use salvaged ones for spare parts. 

What is bad about a car with a salvage title? The vehicle won’t be safe or legal to drive until it is repaired, and if you’re not a great mechanic, it may be very expensive to have the automobile professionally restored. Speaking of cash, you may have to buy such an automobile outright because many lenders are wary of financing the purchase of damaged vehicles.  

Relatedly, if you’re in the market for a used car, you should be aware of the practice of “title washing.” This refers to the practice of bringing in a salvage car from out of state and trying to illegally pass it off as a standard used car. 

Various cars in a junk year to purchase with a salvage title - cheap car insurance in California.

Getting Insurance for a Vehicle with a Salvage Title 

As noted before, it is impossible to buy insurance for a vehicle with a salvage title in California (and most other states). The reason for this is simple: By definition, such a vehicle has already been deemed too damaged or dangerous to drive by an insurance carrier. Because of that, other carriers don’t want to provide coverage to a vehicle that is much likelier to cause damage to its driver and others. 

However, it’s possible to have a damaged vehicle repaired; so long as that vehicle is later able to pass inspection, you will then be able to get insurance coverage. Just keep in mind that restoring such automobiles to a roadworthy status often takes quite a bit of time and money, so it’s important to be very careful when making your purchase. 

Financing a Salvage Title Car 

It is not impossible to finance a salvage title car, but it may be harder than you think. Lenders generally expect the purchases they are financing to last a good, long time. Because salvage title cars have already been written off as complete losses, and buyers may or may not go through with restoring the vehicle, many lenders won’t finance these vehicles because they think the loan may last longer than the automobile. 

Because these vehicles are so cheap, many buyers put money away over time and then make the purchase with cash. If you want to finance such a car, you’ll need to first research which lenders even offer such financing. Before taking out a loan, consider lenders may charge a higher interest rate or ask for a higher down payment to defray their own risks. 

Should You Buy a Salvage Title Car? 

Whether or not to buy an automobile with a salvage title may sound like a simple question, but the honest answer is that it depends on the buyer. Those who are amateur mechanics or just very handy may be able to find a great deal, restore the automobile, and drive up and down California in style. The fact that such automobiles are very cheap is the icing on the cake. 

However, those who can’t repair the automobile themselves will need to factor in the cost of repairs as well as the cost of the car. Furthermore, all buyers will need to do their homework to discover whether the seller is trustworthy and whether they will feel safe driving the vehicle. 

Get the Cheapest Auto Insurance for Your Restored Car! 

Now you know what a salvage title car is and how to decide whether you should buy one or not. But do you know who can provide the best insurance for that vehicle after it is restored? 

Here at Cost-U-Less, we support California residents who are ready to give their automobiles better coverage at the lowest prices. Ready to discover just how much you can save on your monthly premium by switching carriers? Call us at (800) 390-4071 or get a fast and free car insurance quote online. Don’t forget that you can also find a nearby office and visit us in person. 

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