When a vehicle incurs some type of loss event such as major damage, theft, or repair, the title may be designated as a salvage title. The decision to place a title in salvage status is normally made by the insurance company who pays a claim on the vehicle. In some states there are statutory regulations which require an insurer to brand a vehicle with a salvage title. An example may be that a vehicle incurred damage more than 60% of its value. However, an insurance company can decide to place a salvage title brand on any vehicle it decides to, even if there is little or no damage. A salvage title, junk title, rebuilt title, or certificate of destruction are almost always permanent brands on the title which cannot be removed. In rare cases a very complex and expensive process of reconstructing the vehicle and inspection may upgrade a branded title status, but it typically involves more expense than the vehicle is worth.
Salvage titles can normally be registered for road use. In some states an inspection is required to make sure that the vehicle is safe for the road, and that any parts used for repair are legal and have a verified origin. For your own safety make sure that any vehicle you purchase which as a salvage title has operational airbags and valid documentation of the VIN# and all major component parts.
Any attempt to remove, obscure, conceal, or alter a title brand using unauthorized means can be a violation of law often referred to as “title washing” or “title laundering.” The salvage title designation is shared with all 50 states. Evading a title brand is a serious offense. Getting a new title for that purpose is illegal and results is serious criminal penalties.
If you have a salvage title, certificate of destruction, or other branded title, be sure to follow all applicable Federal Laws on title branding: