Why do cars get salvage titles?
In South Carolina, a salvage title is issued on a car when the cost of fixing the vehicle is 75% more than the value of the car. When this happens, the insurance company tells the DMV that the damage has met the 75% mark, and the DMV issues a salvage title for the car. Some of the reasons for a car being a “total loss” are flooding, electrical fires, and collisions.
Research is the best thing you can do to ensure that you don’t buy a car with a salvage title. Start by asking the seller if the car has been previously wrecked? You can also use the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN number) to look it up with Carfax or the National Insurance Crime Bureau. You can also check if the vehicle has been reported stolen by calling a police department. It may be in your best interest to get the car inspected by a reputable mechanic and/or body shop as well.
Is it illegal to sell a damaged car?
Although it may seem illegal to sell a car that may be unsafe, it is legal if the car has a salvage title. However, a car salesperson must disclose that the car has a salvage title. A dealer cannot and should not hide the fact that a car has been deemed a total loss in the fine print of the contract. Dealerships have the expertise and resources to know when a car has been totaled so there is no excuse not to disclose the fact. Unfortunately, disclosure doesn’t always happen, and you can end up with a car that is too dangerous to be driven.
To avoid the costly mistake of buying a car with a salvage title, do the research. Learning the history of a car before you buy it can save you a lot of money and heartache down the road. If you do discover you’ve unknowingly purchased a car with a salvage title, you should contact a reputable attorney immediately so you’re not stuck with a car you don’t feel safe to drive.