How do I obtain a salvage title in North Carolina? North Carolina

Understanding NC Salvage Titles

First, let's make sure you understand salvage titles and vehicles in North Carolina.

A salvage car has been damaged so that the cost of fixing it is more than 75% of the car’s value. After bad accidents, floods, or other disasters, insurance companies can declare a car to be salvage, which essentially means it costs more to fix than the car is worth.

On the other hand, if your car is just so broken you’d rather not fix it, it’s called a junked car, not salvage.

The insurance company will decide whether your car is “salvage.” The insurance company reports the change to the DMV and the DMV issues the car a salvage title. Then you can either keep the car or give it back to the insurance company. The insurance company may sell it to a dealer who will turn it into a rebuilt auto or to someone who wants its parts, or you may keep it for your own use.

Applying for a Salvage Title

Usually, the insurance company is the one who applies for a salvage title, not the individual. According to the NC DMV website, you can apply for a salvage title at the Raleigh office only. You’ll need a Form MVR-40.

Call the North Carolina DMV at (919) 861-3500 to get information for your specific case.

Avoiding Used Cars with a Salvage Title

Sometimes people buy salvage cars and rebuild them, then apply for a new “clean” title. This title will not say that the car was ever a salvage vehicle, though it may still bear things like frame damage that could be potentially disastrous.

To protect yourself before buying a used car, buy a Vehicle History Report. A VHR will list the entire vehicle history of that car, including whether it was ever salvage. The VHR is available online and, for one fee, you can get a month’s access to as many cars as you want.

Examine the auto and make sure the vehicle identification numbers all match. These are usually found on the engine, the doors, the trunk, the quarter panels, and dashboard. If there is anything fishy, walk away from the purchase.

If you decide to buy a salvage car and apply for a new regular car title, protect yourself by asking for a bill of sale from every purchase the mechanic used to build the car. You'll need these documents to prove to the state that the car parts weren't stolen.

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