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Montana is known for Glacier National Park and other cool things. Did you know you could also sell a salvage car in the Treasure State? There are different steps you must follow in this process and forms you’ll need to complete and submit to the Montana Department of Justice (MT DOJ). We’ll walk you through the entire process.

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What is a Montana Salvaged Car?

Every state has its definition of a salvaged car. In Montana, a salvage car is defined as a car that you or your auto insurance provider determines is damaged to the point the cost to repair it isn’t economical. The car can be damaged due to the following:

  • Accident
  • Flood
  • Fire
  • Vandalism

Salvage cars in Montana have repair costs that outweigh the vehicle’s actual cash value (ACV) before the damage occurred.

What Can You Do With a Salvage Car in Montana?

You have two options when it comes to dealing with your salvage car in Montana. You’ll have to work with your auto insurance provider and make a decision. You can accept a full or partial settlement.

Accepting a Salvage Car Full Settlement

When your car sustains extreme damage, such as the damage described above, your auto insurance provider will likely have you complete a total loss claim. Once your car is confirmed a total loss, you can accept:

  • A full settlement, in which your auto insurance provider keeps the car and pays you in full for the damages

If applicable, your only remaining responsibility may be to provide proof of lien satisfaction. Otherwise, you don’t have to worry about the total loss vehicle anymore.

Accepting a Salvage Car Partial Settlement

If you accept a partial settlement and you want to keep your salvage vehicle, let your auto insurance provider know, and they will notify the Vehicle Services Bureau (VSB) of the settlement and if your salvaged car is any of the following:

  • Under 5 years old: the VSB will contact you with instructions to surrender the original car title and apply for a salvaged title
  • At least 5 years old: you don’t have to surrender the car title and the VSB will brand the car title as totaled

Once everything is sorted out with the car’s original title, you can sell the car for parts to a business that buys salvaged cars for scrapping and/or recycling, or apply for a salvage title and then a rebuilt car title once you’ve made the necessary repairs and pass Montana’s salvage inspection.

In a partial settlement, where you remain in possession of the vehicle and your auto insurance provider pays you for partial damages. Your best option depends on your auto insurance policy and your financial situation. It’s a good idea to consult with your auto insurance company before making your final decision.

What’s an Actual Cash Value?

We’ve mentioned actual cash value before, but what does it mean? The ACV is how an auto insurance provider determines the value of a property, such as a vehicle, at any point in time. The ACV is useful when calculating depreciation. The real price at which a vehicle can be sold is rarely more than the amount that is required to purchase a comparable new asset.

Determining your salvage car’s ACV involves a little math. You’ll use the following equation to determine your car’s ACV:

ACV = purchase price x (expected life – current life) ÷ expected life

Your car’s ACV is equal to its replacement cost minus its depreciation. Keep in mind that while your car’s ACV reflects the car’s accounting value, it won’t necessarily reflect the economic value of your car, which means your salvage car can be more or less of value than its ACV when you sell it.

Who Can Determine a Car’s Actual Cash Value?

Anyone can determine a car’s actual cash value. Use the equation we provided above to help you. Let’s talk about the purchase price of your car. Let’s say the purchase price of your car was $32,000. So, the first part of the equation would be $32,000. Next, you have your car’s expected life. In general, most cars have a life expectancy of 11 years with normal wear and tear, so we’ll use this number.

So far, the ACV equation looks like this:

32,000 x (11)

Now it’s time to factor in your car’s current life. For the sake of the equation, we’ll say your car’s current life is 5 years, which means your car is a model year 2018. To calculate your car’s current life, subtract the current year from your car’s model year. If the year is 2023, and your car is the model 2018, 2023-2018 equals 5, so your car’s current life is 5 years. So, here’s the next part of our equation:

32,000 x (11-5)

The next step is to divide everything by your car’s expected life. Your finished equation should look like this:

32,000 x (11-5) ÷ 11

You’re done! Use this equation to determine your car’s actual cash value. Now we can proceed to the next step. Make sure you keep this information handy.

Is a Car’s Actual Cash Value Different From a Car’s Replacement Cost?

Yes. There’s a major difference between the ACV and replacement cost, and these two factors are important when you’re obtaining auto insurance. We’re going to assume you’re the primary policyholder with your auto insurance provider, which means you make the decisions regarding the policy.

For example, if your vehicle was damaged in an accident, and your auto insurance provider deems your car a salvage, or total loss, you can accept your car’s replacement cost of the car’s actual cash value.

Since you’re the primary policyholder, you’ll need to decide whether you’re going to accept your car’s replacement cost or its actual cash value. If you want to replace your car with a car of the same type, being paid the replacement cost of your salvage car is probably the best option that involves little to no significant sacrifices. However, the other option is to be paid your car’s actual cash value. When you’re paid the car’s ACV, you won’t have the luxury of purchasing a car of the same type because you won’t have enough funds.

One thing you can’t forget to do is read the fine print of the auto insurance policy. Why? Once you sign your name on the policy, you agree to whatever the fine print says. You need to make sure you’ll be satisfied with the outcome.

How Do You Sell a Salvage Car in Montana?

Selling a salvage car in Montana doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Here’s what you need to do. First, it’s a good idea to inspect your car by checking its condition, checking its current market value, setting a fair price, and then advertising your car to potential buyers.

Required Selling Documents in Montana

To start, you and any other registered owners are required to sign off on the vehicle’s certificate of title. The signatures must be notarized. If another person is going to sign for you on the title in a power of attorney situation, they must include your name and write “POA” after their signature. Additionally, a Power of Attorney document must be included with the title.

You must also make sure that any liens that are connected with the vehicle have been formally released. The lienholder can complete a Release of Security Interest or Lien (Form MV37A) or provide a release of security interest/lien on letterhead with the pertinent vehicle details.

You can also use a Montana Bill of Sale (Form MV24). Make sure you provide the following information on the bill of sale:

  • The sale price
  • The year, make, model, style, and vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle
  • The current odometer reading
  • You and the buyer’s signature

Transferring a Car Title in Montana

To transfer a car title in Montana, you (the seller of the car), must assign the title over to the buyer. Make sure the signature is notarized. You and the buyer must complete a bill of sale. The car’s buyer must complete the title application. The buyer is also responsible for submitting the required paperwork, plus payment for titling and the registration fees to the Montana Motor Vehicle Division (MT DOJ).

Is a Bill of Sale Required to Sell a Salvage Car in Montana?

Yes. You are required to submit a bill of sale to complete a vehicle title transfer. The bill of sale is an important document that provides essential information to the MT DOJ. The bill of sale also provides you and the buyer with a record that proves a transaction occurred. A bill of sale can be used in the following ways:

  • As a receipt of the transaction
  • To protect you (the vehicle’s seller) in the event the buyer fails to register the vehicle or abandons it
  • To file away for tax purposes

A bill of sale is a great document that helps you keep track of transactions, especially when you’re selling your car in a private sale. You can use a generic bill of sale. However, the bill of sale must include the following information:

  • Vehicle information (make, model, year, vehicle identification number (VIN), and current odometer reading)
  • Buyer information (name, address, and signature)
  • Seller information (name, address, and signature)
  • Selling price and date sold

Do Salvaged Vehicles Have Restrictions in Montana?

As the owner of a salvage vehicle, you are not allowed to operate this vehicle on roads or highways until you rebuild the car to MT’s safety standards, pass the vehicle inspection, and have the car retitled with an MT rebuilt car title. Salvage cars are deemed unsafe to operate, so you’ll be required to make the required repairs set by MT before you can drive the car again.

Can You Sell a Salvaged Car Without the Title in Montana?

You won’t be able to do much without the car’s title, and this includes selling your salvaged car. So no, you won’t be able to sell your salvage car without the title. Having a bill of sale will help, but it’s always best to have the car’s title. If you’ve misplaced the title, you can apply for a duplicate car title by completing an Application for Certificate of Title for a Motor Vehicle (Form MV1).

How Important is My Car’s Title?

We’ve talked about the car’s title a lot, and you may be wondering what makes a car title an essential document. Your car’s title includes the following information:

  • the name(s) of the car owner(s) and the following information:
  • Year, make, and model of the vehicle (may include the body type of the vehicle)
  • Vehicle color
  • Odometer reading
  • The date on which the odometer reading was done
  • Owner or owners of the vehicle
  • Owner’s address
  • The date on which the title was issued

A car’s title can also include the following:

  • Title number
  • The vehicle’s weight
  • The number of cylinders in the engine
  • The engine number
  • The type of fuel used in the car
  • The license plate number

The car’s title should also have the signature of one or multiple state officials who are in charge of motor vehicles or revenue collection, such as the Division of Motor Vehicles or Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Department of Transportation (DOT), Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), and similar motor vehicle departments. In this case, you would be looking for signatures from the MT DOJ.

A car’s title is a legal document that shows who legally owns the car. Hopefully, your name is on the title as the car’s owner. Even if there are multiple owners listed on the car’s title, as long as you’re one of the listed owners, you’re in the clear. If not, the car is not legally yours, and you don’t have the right to sell it or make any other decisions regarding the car.

Can You Sell a Salvaged Car Without the Car’s Registration in Montana?

In most states, including Montana, you are NOT required to have the car’s registration to sell the car. Keep in mind that you are, however, required to present the car’s title, and there are no exceptions.

What Do I Do If I Don’t Have My Salvage Car Title?

If you don’t have your car’s title, you’ll need to replace it. To replace the car title, you must apply for one by completing an Application for Duplicate Certificate of Title (Form MV7). You will also need to submit a Statement of Fact (Form MV100) with the application form if you are replacing your car’s title because of a legal name change. You will also need to pay the $10.30. Mail all of these documents and the payment to the following address:

Vehicle Services Bureau
Motor Vehicle Division
Montana Department of Justice
P.O. Box 201431
302 N Roberts
Helena, MT 59620

How to Get a Salvage Car Title in Montana

You can apply for a salvage car title in Montana by taking the following items to your local county treasurer’s office:

  • A completed Application for Salvage Certificate of a Vehicle (Form MV206)
  • The car’s original title (if your salvage vehicle is 20 years old or fewer, you must complete an odometer disclosure statement on the back of the car’s title).
  • Your Montana driver’s license
  • Proof of lien satisfaction (if applicable)
  • Payment for the salvage title fee (contact your county treasurer’s office ahead of time to learn about acceptable forms of payment)

Once you complete these steps, you will receive your Montana salvage title. You still have the option of selling your vehicle or making the necessary repairs to make the car legally operable again.

Montana Salvage Rebuilt Car Inspections

After you or a mechanic makes the necessary repairs to your salvage car, the car must pass Montana’s safety and legal standards by passing a vehicle inspection. You must schedule an appointment based on the type of inspection your vehicle needs.

Before making your way to your appointment, you must apply for a temporary registration permit through the MT DOJ. This permit allows you to legally operate your rebuilt vehicle to the inspection site.

After arriving at the inspection site, you must pay the following fees:

  • Stage 2 VIN inspections: $18.50
  • Stage 3 VIN inspections: $18.50

Next, you must present the following items to the vehicle inspector:

  • The car’s salvage title
  • Proof you paid the applicable inspection fee (such as a receipt)
  • All bills of sale and/or receipts for the parts used to rebuild the vehicle, which include receipts and information for the following:
    • Names and addresses of the buyer(s) and seller(s)
    • Any applicable costs

If parts were transferred from one vehicle to your own, the original car’s make, model, year, and vehicle identification number (VIN) must be included for each car the parts came from.

After your vehicle passes the inspection, the inspector will provide you with the required paperwork to apply for a Montana rebuilt car title. If you have questions or concerns about your salvage car inspection, call the Montana DOJ at (406) 444-3661.

What Major Vehicle Components Are Checked During a Montana Vehicle Inspection?

During your MT vehicle inspection, your rebuilt salvage car’s major components will be checked. The following are the components that may be checked during an MT vehicle inspection:

  • Cowls
  • Transmission
  • Frames
  • Engines
  • Doors
  • Trunk lids
  • Front and rear fenders
  • Quarter panels

Why Are Salvage Car Inspections Performed in Montana?

Montana car inspections are essential for different reasons. Salvage cars are deemed unroadworthy and MT vehicle inspectors want to make sure that you and other drivers are safe on the road. Part of the inspection is ensuring your vehicle can safely be operated on roads and highways. Salvage car inspections in Montana are designed to make sure your car was not repaired with stolen parts and that you are the legal owner of the vehicle.

Montana Salvage Vehicle Inspection Failures

If you fail the salvage vehicle inspection, you will have to make the specific repairs that are required so the car passes inspection the next time. You should receive a document that tells you why the car failed inspection and which repairs need to be made. You must treat this situation as a time-sensitive matter to avoid possible penalties and fees.

What Steps Do I Need to Take to Register a Salvaged Car in Montana?

You won’t be able to register a salvage car in Montana. To register a car, the car must be repaired, pass inspection, and obtain a Montana rebuilt car title. At this time, you’ll be able to get an auto insurance policy on the car.

Montana Vehicle Registration Fees

Different fees are associated with registering your vehicle in Montana. We won’t list every fee in this article. However, you can check here to view the registration fees that apply to the state of Montana.

What’s the Different Between a Montana Salvage Title and a Rebuilt Car Title?

Salvage title cars and rebuilt title cars are often confused with one another because of their similarities. Both of these cars have sustained severe damage due to an accident. However, a salvage title car must be repaired and pass inspection to obtain a rebuilt car title in Montana.

How is a Montana Salvage Title Different from a Junk Title?

Since we’ve already discussed what a salvage car is, let’s talk about junk title cars. Salvage title cars and junk title cars are severely damaged, but only a salvage title car can be repaired and rebuilt to obtain a Montana rebuilt car title. Junk title cars don’t have this option. Cars that have a junk title can only be junked at a salvage yard or junkyard. It is illegal to sell a junk car in Montana.

Who Buys Salvage Cars Near Me in Montana?

If you want to sell your salvage car, you have the option of selling it to a salvage yard. In this scenario, it wouldn’t be a private sale because you are selling your car to a business and not an individual. You have a lot of options when it comes to salvage yards in Montana. We’ve listed a handful of Montana salvage yards to get you started.

Green Meadow Auto Salvage
7313 Green Meadow Dr.
Helena, MT 59602
(406) 458-9204
Monday – Friday (8:30 AM – 5:30 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

Filipowicz Brothers Salvage
3120 Rainbow Dam Rd.
Great Falls, MT 59404
(406) 727-0535
Monday – Friday (8 AM – 5 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

Dietz Auto & Truck Salvage Inc.
1104 Bench Blvd.
Billings, MT 59105
(800) 573-4389
Monday – Friday (8 AM – 5 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

Louie & Dean’s Montana Truck & Car Salvage
516 Scott St.
Billings, MT 59101
(406) 245-6621
Monday – Friday (8 AM – 5 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

Can I Salvage My Car Without a Title in Montana?

As we previously stated, you won’t get far without the car’s title. If you have lost your car’s title, you’ll need to complete an Application for Replacement Certificate of Title (Form MV7). You also need to pay the $10.30 fee for the duplicate car title. Mail these items to the following address:

Vehicle Services Bureau
Motor Vehicle Division
Montana Department of Justice
P.O. Box 201431
302 N Roberts
Helena, MT 59620

How Does Having a Montana Rebuilt Salvage Title Affect My Car’s Value?

We’ve told you that your salvage car has value, and it does. However, even after you make the necessary repairs to your salvage car to obtain a Montana rebuilt car title, your car will not be worth as much as it was before it was damaged and obtained a salvage title. Why? Since your car doesn’t have a clean title, meaning the car has accidents on record, and you have a salvage car title, the car is not worth as much, but it does still have value.

How Can I Get the Most Money for My Salvage Car in Montana?

We all want to make the most money possible. There’s no denying that. However, you need to keep your expectations realistic. Let’s discuss your options when it comes to your salvage car.

Selling Your Salvage Car to Another Individual

If you choose to sell your salvage car in a private sale, this means you are selling your car to another individual and not a business, such as a junkyard or salvage yard. Salvage car owners often sell their cars in a private sale because they’re looking for a specific type of buyer. This is a good option if your car has sentimental value, and you’re looking for a specific person to care for your car the way you would.

Selling Your Salvage Car to a Salvage Yard or Junkyard

Selling your salvage car to a salvage yard or junkyard is your best option if you no longer want anything to do with the car. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme, but it will put cash in your pocket. Selling your salvage car using the other selling options can be frustrating. Selling your car to a junkyard or salvage yard is the option that poses the least hassles. You don’t have to worry about repairing the car and paying fees.

Selling Your Salvage Car for Parts

Selling your salvage car for parts is known as “parting out” your car. This selling method is one way for you to get the most for your money. A mechanic can help you identify parts of your car that can be salvaged or car parts that are the most valuable. People are always searching for car parts, so you may be in luck. However, some car parts will sell faster than others. You may have to wait longer than you anticipated for all of your car’s parts to sell.

Selling Your Salvage Car As-Is

Selling your salvage car as-is is a good option if you don’t want to deal with the frustration and hassle of completing paperwork and spending money on repairing your car. If you sell your salvage car as-is, once the car is sold, anything regarding the car is no longer your responsibility, such as repairs, titling fees, and anything else that has to do with the car. This selling method is ideal for you if you’re not in a rush to sell your car.

Difficulties You May Face When Selling a Salvage Car in Montana

Selling a salvage car often takes longer to sell than selling a traditional one. Don’t let this get you down, though. Many people will jump to be the first in line to purchase your salvage car. Many mechanics and DIY gurus will jump at a chance to start a new side project.

The Importance of Disclosing Information When Selling a Salvage Car in Montana

Selling a salvage car in Montana requires you to disclose specific information to potential car buyers, such as informing them that the car is a salvage. Why is this information essential? Selling a salvage car without letting the buyer know it’s a salvage is illegal.

How do you disclose that your car is a salvage? You can disclose that your car is salvaged in different ways. Whichever platform you’re using to sell your salvage car, make sure you include a full, in-depth description of the car. Your car’s description is where you will inform buyers that your car is a salvage.

When you’re writing your car’s description, you need to focus on the car’s good points and not solely on the car’s negative aspects. Tell buyers about the life your car had, meaning what the car was used for, places you’ve traveled, and how it’s held up over the years. Buyers will likely want to know how the car became a salvage, such as being involved in an accident or another instance that caused the car’s damages. You can also include a few repairs that the car needs to give potential buyers insight about the repairs they’ll be responsible for making and possibly give buyers a starting point.

Applying for a Montana Rebuilt Car Title

To apply for a Montana rebuilt car title, you must do so through the MT DOJ, and provide the following documents at your local county treasurer’s office:

  • A completed Application for Certificate of Title for a Motor Vehicle (Form MV1)
  • The car’s salvage title
  • The paperwork you received from the inspector as proof your vehicle passed the salvage inspection
  • Same bills of sale and/or receipts you provided at the inspection
  • Payment for the applicable fees for title and registration (the cost will vary depending on your car’s age and local taxes)

After you get everything in order, you will receive your Montana rebuilt car title and can legally drive your car again. You can contact the Montana DOJ at (406) 444-3661 with any other questions you have about applying for a rebuilt car title.

How Long Does it Take to Receive a Rebuilt Title in Montana?

It will take at least four weeks to receive your Montana rebuilt car title because it has to be processed and sent in the mail. The sooner you make the necessary repairs and your car passes inspection, the sooner you can apply for your rebuilt car title and get on the road.