Your Helpful Guide to Registering a Previously Declared Salvage Car

A vehicle is declared salvage after it must have taken a loss above 75 percent of its initial value. Then, the vehicle is declared a total loss by an insurance company; hence, the registration is revoked, and the vehicle cannot be driven on the road again. From here, to get the vehicle back on the road, then it has to be re-registered.

Re-registering the vehicle involves repairing the damages incurred and passing a state-authorized inspection. Depending on the term used by the state, the repaired vehicle will then be termed, rebuilt, or revived salvage.

  • Assess the Damage 

After buying a salvage vehicle, the next thing to do to get the vehicle re-registered is to assess the damage and the repairs that must be done. Start by getting an original copy of the insurance company’s report of the estimated damages. Next, the paperwork should consist of lists of repairs that the state inspector must tick off. 

Note that the original estimate might not cover the entire extent of the damage, especially if the vehicle was declared salvage due to flooding.

  • Repairs

Let a mechanic have a look at the original damage estimate from the insurer to determine the full scope of repairs to be done. Then, a thorough inspection of the vehicle by an experienced technician will point out if there are additional repairs that need to be done to pass the state-authorized inspection. For example, in California, the state inspection requires that a brake and light certification test would be completed before the state examination. Having an experienced mechanic inspect the vehicle can reveal that the vehicle’s electrical system is damaged so much that it won’t pass this test if the said part or feature is not repaired. 

  • State Inspection

The state inspection focuses on whether the vehicle has been repaired enough so that it is safe to drive again and that no stolen part was used in rebuilding the vehicle. The vehicle owner should provide this documentation which can easily be gotten from the insurance company’s original damage estimates and invoices to show all the work done on the vehicle. In addition, receipts of purchase for the parts used in rebuilding the vehicle can prove that they were purchased from legitimate sources. After passing the state inspection, the vehicle is now ready for registration at the Department Of Motor Vehicles (DMV). However, as mentioned at, dealing with the DMV can be quite a hassle. Getting help from a public service agency that will get all the DMV documentation you need on time will make the registration process go as seamlessly as possible. 

Registering a Previously Salvage Vehicle

The documentation for registering a salvage vehicle varies from one state to another, but the proof of ownership, certification of salvage, and the certification to show that vehicle has passed the slave inspection are common requirements. 

Visit the state’s DMV website to get info on additional paperwork, which may include an application for registration, receipts of parts, and proof of repairs.

After all necessary documentation has been submitted to the DMV, the vehicle is given a new title to indicate that it has been rebuilt to state standard. The car is then registered after paying all required fees, making it legal and safe to drive again on public roads.

How To Register A Previously Salvage Car In California.

In California, to register a previously salvage car or a revived salvage car: 

  • You need to complete an Application for Title or Registration (REG 343) (PDF) form that the current vehicle owner will sign.
  • You need proof of ownership, like a Bill of Sale (REG 135) (PDF) form or a Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment (REG 262) form from a licensed dismantler (include the vehicle acquisition number from the dismantle).
  • You also need a CHP Certificate of Inspection (CHP 97C) form or a Verification of Vehicle (REG 31) (PDF).
  • Then, certificates for the brake and light adjustment.
  • Lastly, pay the applicable fees.

You might also need these:

  • Apply for a Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate (REG488C) (PDF).
  • Fill in a Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment (REG 262) form (call 1-800-777-0133 to request a form from the DMV).
  • Fill in a Statement of Facts (REG 256) (PDF) form.
  • Fill in a Declaration of Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)/Combined Gross Vehicle Weight (CGW) (REG 4008) form.
  • Fill in a Permanent Trailer Identification (PTI) Application and Certification (REG 4017) form.
  • Surrender existing license plates to the necessary authorities.
  • Get a smog certification.
  • Fill in a Weight certificate from a Certified Public Weighmaster in California (if your vehicle is a pickup or truck).

Make sure you visit the state’s DMV to learn about what is applicable in that particular state regarding the re-registration of salvage vehicles.

Things to note

  • Before completing the re-register process, you cannot drive the car to the inspection facility, as it is illegal to drive a salvage vehicle on a public road. So you will likely have it towed to the inspection facility.
  • If the car was declared salvage in another state, you have to inspect and rebrand it at that state before bringing it back home for registration. Check your state regulations before buying a salvage vehicle.

Having all the necessary information will help you register a salvage car with ease. Follow the steps and ensure you do it the right way. 

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