How To Sell A Salvage Car In California is an independent publisher. You will find affiliate links which means we may earn a commission if you purchase through these links. It doesn't cost you anything & it helps us keep the site running.

Sometimes the second time is a charm, for cars that is. You can give your car a second chance by salvaging it. The comeback is often greater than the setback, but to reach this point, you’re going to have to show your car some TLC and put in the effort to get it functioning as it should.

What is a Salvage Car?

The California Department of Motor Vehicles defines a salvage car as one that can be repaired/restored to operate safely on the roads and highways in California. A lot of the time, salvage cars have sustained damage that has not only decreased their value but also made it unsafe to drive.

Are There Different Types of Salvage Cars?

In California, there are:

  • Salvage cars (cars that have been wrecked or damaged to the point the cost of repairs can be astronomical)
  • Revived salvage cars (a salvage car that has been repaired and registered with the CA DMV)
  • Junk cars (a car that has been reported to the CA DMV as one that has been dismantled by its owner or a professional dismantler)

How is a Salvage Title Different from a Junk Title?

A salvage title is often confused with a junk title. However, the two are NOT the same. A salvage title is given to cars that can be repaired and safely operated. A junk title on the other hand is given to cars that can’t be repaired, and the only value the car has is to scrap the remaining parts at a junkyard.

How Do You Sell a Salvage Car in California?

To sell a salvage car in the state of California, you’ll need to register the car as a salvage by applying for a revised salvage car title by completing an Application for Title or Registration (Form REG 343). As the vehicle’s owner, you are required to sign this form.

You will also need to provide the following:

  • Proof of ownership (such as a Bill of Sale (Form REG 135) or Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment (REG 262).
  • Verification of Vehicle (REG 31)
  • Brake and Light Adjustment Certificates
  • Payment for applicable fees

You may also need to provide additional paperwork, such as:

  • A smog certification
  • An Application for Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate (Form REG 488C)
  • A Statement of Facts (Form REG 256)
  • A Declaration of Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)/Combined Gross Vehicle Weight (CGVW) (Form REG 4008)
  • A Permanent Trailer Identification (PTI) Application (Form REG 4017)
  • Weight Certificate from a California Public Weighmaster (Applicable if your vehicle is a pickup or truck)

You will also be required to surrender your existing license plates. Keep in mind that you will need to repair your car to the point that it is street-legal in the state of California, which can be expensive.

As-Is Sales

Since making the necessary repairs to make a salvage car street-legal is going to be expensive, you may want to consider selling your car as-is, which means you are selling the car as it is without repairs, maintenance, and any other reparations.

You need to be upfront with any potential buyer about the salvage car you’re selling. Make sure the buyer understands that the car is a salvage. If you have made a few repairs, save the receipts and provide the buyer with these receipts. Also, let the buyer know of the repairs that need to be made.

Be advised that you can be sued, fined, or even arrested if you deliberately misrepresent your car in ANY way. The best course of action to take in this situation is to take the car to a mechanic and allow them to thoroughly inspect the car. Mechanics can optimize the repairs that need to be made and diagnose potential problems that may occur.

Another thing you need to keep in mind is that you will NOT receive top-dollar for your salvage car. Different risks are associated with salvage cars, including mechanical and insurance difficulties. When you set the selling price for your car, keep in mind that you will most likely receive about half of what you’re asking for the car, so price accordingly.

Who Buys Salvage Cars Near Me?

Finding a salvage yard can be a pain so, we looked for salvage yards in California, and this is what we found!

A-1 Metals & Auto Salvage
5795 Stockdale Rd
Paso Robles, CA 93446
(805) 238-3545
Monday – Friday (8 AM – 4:30 PM)
Saturday (8 AM – 1:30 PM)
Sunday (Closed)

HK Auto Salvage
247 E Whittier Blvd
Montebello, CA 90640
(562) 692-0559
Monday – Friday (8 AM – 5 PM)
Saturday (8 AM – 5 PM)
Sunday (Closed)

Fast Foreign Auto Salvage
767 Alpha St.
Irwindale, CA 91010
(626) 357-3361
Monday – Friday (8:30 AM – 4:30 PM)
Saturday (9 AM – 1 PM)
Sunday (Closed)

Can You Insure a Salvage Title Car in California?

Yes. Once a total loss settlement has been reached, your insurance company (of representative Salvage Pool) or the owner of the car, is responsible for applying for a California salvage certificate within 10 days.

To apply for a CA salvage certificate, you need to submit the following to the CA DMV:

  • Complete an Application for Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate (Form REG 488C)
  • Proof of ownership with a properly endorsed:
    • Certificate of Title
    • Application for Duplicate or Paperless Title (Form REG 227)

If you don’t have proof of ownership documentation, your insurance company can apply for a CA Salvage Certificate.

  • Bill of sale
  • Odometer disclosure (if there is no room on the title certificate)
  • License plates (if you no longer have the license plate(s), you must explain why you no longer have the plates on the application.
  • Vehicle information if the title is out-of-state
  • Payment for the $23 salvage certificate fee

Keep in mind the salvage certificate can ONLY be assigned to your insurance company. Transfer of ownership can be executed on the salvage certificate once received.

Can I Salvage My Car Without a Title in California?

Yes. There are different steps you need to take to ensure you have done everything correctly to prevent delays in this process and possible penalties and fees.

To salvage your car without a CA car title, you need to do the following:

  • Find a salvage yard location
  • Get the car’s title (if you don’t already have one, you can apply for a duplicate car title (Form REG 227)
  • Find out where you need to park the car for it to be towed
  • Call the tow company or salvage yard to schedule a time for the car to be towed

Make sure you remove all of your belongings from the car before it is towed because there’s a good chance you may not be able to retrieve your belongings once the car is towed.