What Does a “Salvage Title” Mean in MO?

In Missouri, a salvage title means that a vehicle has sustained serious damage in the past and has been rebuilt. While these vehicles may be less expensive than their counterparts, they could be susceptible to breaking down or malfunctioning.

Before investing in a vehicle with a salvage title, it is important to carefully weigh your options and assess the potential risk. A car with a salvage title is ineligible for insurance and could heighten the driver’s chances of an accident.

What Is a Salvage Title?

When a car experiences significant damage and the owner submits a claim to his or her insurer, the carrier will inspect the vehicle. If it would be more expensive to repair the car than to provide the owner with a new one, the insurance company will declare the vehicle a total loss. Usually, the cost of repairs exceeds 80% of the vehicle’s fair market value.

After a car is declared a total loss, the Motor Vehicle Bureau of the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) will cancel the vehicle’s registration. The state will also replace the title with a salvage certificate, which prevents anyone from driving the vehicle.

The DOR will issue a rebuilt title after someone repairs the vehicle. After rebuilding the car, passing a state examination, and submitting the proper documentation, the owner could re-register the vehicle and start driving it again.

How to Register a Salvage Title Vehicle in Missouri

To register a salvage vehicle, the owner will need to undergo a state exam. During this inspection, the state will check to see whether the damage has been repaired and whether the vehicle is safe to drive. Additionally, the inspector will make sure that the owner did not use any stolen parts to complete the repairs.

After passing the inspection, the owner will need to submit the following documentation to the DOR.

The vehicle’s salvage certificate of title
The bill of sale for the purchase of the vehicle
The owner’s application for title and license in Missouri
The approved vehicle examination certificate
Payment for filing fees and any unpaid taxes for the car

Once the owner successfully submits his or her application, the DOR will upgrade the salvage title to a Prior Salvage Certificate of Title. Then, the owner is free to register the vehicle, drive it, and even sell it. However, he or she must disclose that it has a salvage title.

Should You Buy a Vehicle with a Salvage Title?

If you are in the market for a new car, purchasing a rebuilt vehicle can be a tempting choice. These vehicles are much cheaper than newer models and may seem like a good financial investment. However, it may be in your best interests to look at other options as well.

Depending on the quality of the repairs and the extent of the previous damage, a rebuilt car may break down again in the future. If you are interested in a vehicle with a salvage title, you will be responsible for any repairs and need to undergo the registration process yourself. Additionally, rebuilt and salvage vehicles are usually ineligible for insurance.

To save future headaches, it is best to consider your options before purchasing a previously damaged vehicle. If you are involved in a car accident with or while riding in a salvage vehicle, an attorney can help. Contact a Kansas City car accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your next steps.