Selling Salvage Title Vehicles

Whether your are a seasoned used car dealer or a newly licensed, salvage title vehicles have always been popular and yet intimating to many. Selling salvage vehicles to the public can return high yields–if you know what you are doing.

With our years of experience as a used car dealer in California, we managed to condense the process from purchasing a salvage title vehicle to selling it to the retail buyer. Here are 3 easy steps to follow if you are considering buying and selling salvage vehicles.

Step 1: Have a strong salvage vehicle network

Used car dealer auto body and repair network

Most used car dealers in California buy their salvage units from these sources: Insurance Auto Auctions, Copart or public platforms such as Craigslist. If you are unsure on how to valuate a vehicle you can check out our article to learn the fundamentals of placing a valuation on a unit. Be sure to have a budget in place so that the buy will be worth your time.

It is highly recommended that dealers have a trusted and reliable network in place when dealing with salvage vehicles. It is recommended to have, at the very least, reputable contacts in

  • Auto body
  • Mechanical
  • Auto interiors

Even better if you can handle the full repair process ‘in house’. Keep any repair receipts relating to the salvage unit, you may be asked to show them with DMV or a CHP officer when obtaining a VIN verification.

Step 2: Get The Proper Salvage Certifications

The following steps rely heavily on how well the vehicle has been serviced in regards to autobody, paint and mechanical issues.

During this stage, the dealer should be ready to get the salvage vehicle certified for re-sale. Certifications include:

  • Brake & light certificate
    • Must be completed by an authorized station
  • VIN verification
    • Previously salvaged California vehicles being re-registered for on-highway use may be inspected by an authorized DMV employee or referred to the California Highway Patrol (CHP)
    • Previously salvaged nonresident vehicles being re-registered for must be referred to the CHP for inspection.
  • Smog certificate

Step 3: DMV Paperwork Required

Reg 51 report of sale

Now your are ready to sell the salvage vehicle to a retail customer. Once you find the right buyer, here are the list of items you need to complete the DMV registration.

  • Completed and signed retail report of sale (Reg 51)
  • Completed and signed application for duplicate or paperless title (Reg 227)
  • Completed and signed statement of facts (Reg 256)
  • Completed and signed application for replacement plates, stickers and documents (Reg 156)

4 Responses

  1. Please be sure to fill the application out completely and submit all required documents with the application. Failure to include required information or documents can delay the processing of your application. The license application must be completed by a dealer owner or dealer manager.

  2. Can I walk into a DMV office and ask for these documents? And the VIN verification, is it better with the CHP or DMV?

    1. Yes you can. In regards to the VIN verification, your quickest option would be DMV because you would need to make an appointment for a CHP verification. Both are equally accepted.

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