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Selling a salvage car in Washington State involves paperwork and different guidelines you must follow, but in general, it’s not as bad as you may think. As a resident of Washington State, you’re required by law to take specific steps to ensure you sell your car correctly. We’ll cover everything you need to know in this article. It’s time to sell your salvage car!

Table of Contents

What is a Salvaged Car in Washington State?

In Washington State, a salvaged car is defined as a car that has been damaged, wrecked, or otherwise destroyed to the point the car would be uneconomical to repair. An uneconomical car to repair is a car that has repair cars that would exceed the car’s actual cash value.

What is a Car’s Actual Cash Value?

If you’re familiar with the term “actual cash value” from your auto insurance provider, you’ve probably experienced a total loss. A car’s actual cash value (ACV) is the fair market value of your car. A car begins to depreciate the second you drive it home, which means it’s no longer worth what it was when you purchased it, regardless if you purchased the car new or used.

For example, if you purchased your car new 1 month ago before the accident, the ACV could be much less than the sticker price. In general, a car’s actual cash value is essential when you’ve filed a claim with your auto insurance provider, especially if the claim is for a total loss, or you’re attempting to sell or trade in your vehicle to a dealership or individual buyer, also referred to as a private party.

Market Value Threshold

Washington State’s definition of a salvaged car DOES NOT apply to vehicles with a model year of 5 years old or newer UNLESS the car meets the market value threshold. To meet Washington State’s market value threshold, the car needs to:

  • Between 6 and 20 years old
  • Be a passenger vehicle, light-duty truck, or a sport utility vehicle
  • Have a retail value of at least $10,430 BEFORE the damage

If your vehicle does NOT meet Washington State’s market value threshold, you can contact the A DOL at (360) 902-3900 for more information.

Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost

It’s easy to confuse the actual cash value of your vehicle with the replacement cost of the vehicle. In general, the actual cash value will be less than the replacement cost of the car.

Most insurance companies offer some type of replacement cost coverage after a total loss claim which provides the payment that is required to replace your car if your auto insurance company determines the car is a total loss. Some auto insurance providers will pay you to replace your vehicle with one that is a model year newer.

You can speak with an agent from your auto insurance company for more information about possible replacement cost coverage.

How is a Car’s Actual Cash Value Calculated?

A lot of the time, auto insurance providers will look at the replacement cost and then make the proper deductions for the following:

  • Age
  • Mileage
  • Normal wear and tear

Make sure you speak with an agent from your auto insurance company as these examples of calculation can vary.

Actual Cash Value vs. Kelly Blue Book

Kelly Blue Book (KBB) is an excellent place to start determining your car’s actual cash value. Some insurance companies may use KBB as a reference. Knowing the KBB and recent sale prices for vehicles that are comparable to yours can help you when you negotiate the ACV with your auto insurance provider.

Negotiating the Actual Cash Value

If you’re not satisfied with the actual cash value, you may want to consider negotiating with your auto insurance provider. There are different ways you can approach negotiation.

You can find out how your auto insurance provider calculated the ACV and have the agent explain it to you step by step. You can also check the KBB value. Be honest about your car’s condition. For example, if your vehicle is not in the best condition, make sure you check the appropriate option.

Another option you have is to research vehicles that are comparable to yours. Be sure to check the prices at the current condition level of your car. You may have to visit used car websites to dealerships for the most current prices.

Maintaining communication with your auto insurance company throughout the entire process is important. Inform your auto insurance provider that you’re researching the actual cash value, and they’ll note that you’re an active participant in this process.

Can GAP Insurance Help?

Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP) insurance is essential for individuals who have leases or loans on their cars. GAP insurance covers the difference between your ACV and the amount you still owe on your lease or loan.

For example, if your ACV is nowhere near covering the cost of your loan, GAP insurance will, and bridge the gap rather than leave you with a var you can’t drive, but are still making payments on.

The Nitty Gritty of Selling a Salvage Car

If you’re a self-insurer who declared your car a salvage, next you need to report the vehicle’s salvage status to the Washington Department of Licensing (WA DOL). If you’re a policyholder and your auto insurance company determines that your car meets the salvage criteria after a total loss claim, you can do either of the following:

  • Sign the car over to your auto insurance provider and take a full settlement. You may be required to provide proof of lien satisfaction. At this point, the vehicle is no longer your responsibility.
  • Keep the car and take a partial settlement from your auto insurance provider. You must first report the car’s salvage status to the WA DOL. Once you complete this step, you can sell the car or repair it to roadworthy status and apply for a Washington State rebuilt car title.

Reporting Your Salvage Car to the WA DOL

After a car is deemed a total loss, a report must be filed with the WA DOL. The deadline for reporting the salvage differs depending on if you’re the registered owner of the car, the auto insurance company, or a self-insurer.

If you’re the registered owner of the car, you must report the salvage car within 15 days of the damage occurring. If you’re an auto insurance company or a self-insurer, you must report the salvage status of the car within 15 days of the insurance settlement claim.

To report a car’s salvage status, you must submit the following:

  • The car title with “Destroyed” and the date the car was salvaged written on the face of the car title
  • A statement on whether the car meets the state’s market value threshold (if the car was 6 model years old or older when the damage occurred.)

You need to mail the above documentation within the deadlines outlined above to the following address:

Department of Licensing
P.O. Box 9038
Olympia, WA 9850

After the WA DOL receives the car title and statement (if applicable), your car will be filed as a salvage vehicle.

Auto insurance providers and self-insurers can also report a salvage using the WA DOL’s online reporting system for insurers, or by mailing the total loss claim settlement form to the address above. Feel free to call the WA DOL at (360) 902-3900 for more information.

How Do You Sell a Salvage Car in Washington State?

When you’re selling a salvaged car in Washington State, you can choose to sell it for parts, or as a whole. If you choose to keep the car, rebuild it, and retain ownership of the car after, you’ll need to apply for a Washington State rebuilt car title. We’ll talk about this more later on in the article.

Selling Your Salvaged Car for Parts

If you’re selling your salvaged car for parts, you are required to provide the buyer with a notarized bill of sale for each part. The bills of sale must include the following information:

  • A description of the part
  • The vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • The name of the last registered owner

Once you sell the parts of your choosing, you can sell the rest of the car by providing a notarized bill of sale with the vehicle’s description (make, model, and year) and the VIN to the purchaser.

Selling the Whole Salvaged Car

If you’re selling the entire car, you are required to provide the buyer with the following:

  • An Insure Destroyed Vehicle Options Form (Form TD-420-080). This sheet includes instructions for the buyer, including their responsibility to make an appointment with the Washington State Patrol for a rebuilt salvage vehicle inspection if they want to rebuild or retitle the car.
  • A Notice of Cancellation Letter (Call the WA DOL at (360) 902-3900) for instructions on obtaining this letter
  • A notarized bill of sale
  • An odometer disclosure statement IF your salvaged car is fewer than 10 years old (you can obtain this form from a WA DOL branch).

Be advised that you are required to notify the WA DOL of the sale within 5 days of selling the car. If you have questions or concerns about selling your salvaged car, you can call the Washington DOL at (360) 902-3900.

Can You Sell a Salvaged Car Without a Title in Washington State?

The car’s title is imperative in the car-selling process. If you don’t have the car’s title, you need to visit your local WA DOL branch and complete an Affidavit instead of the Title form. This form can only be obtained at a WA DOL office.

You will need multiple documents that prove your ownership of the car, such as the registration card, and anything else that has your name on it in regards to the car. Also, you need to be prepared to play the waiting game. Processing time can take as long as 10 weeks, so make sure you want to initiate this lengthy process before planning to sell the salvaged car.

How to Sell a Car Without the Car’s Registration

Unlike the car’s title, its registration certification has no bearing on the sale, so you don’t have to worry about that. Neither the seller nor the buyer needs the car’s registration card to complete the sale transaction.

What is a Salvage Certificate?

A salvage certificate is a document that is issued once a vehicle is declared as a total loss. Once an auto insurance company writes the vehicle off, they will obtain the car’s title from you and apply for a salvage certificate from the WA DOL. At this time, the WA DOL will issue a salvage certificate in the name of the auto insurance company.

How to Get a Salvage Car Title in Washington State

To receive a salvage car title in Washington State, you must do the following:

  • Declare your vehicle a salvage or have it declared a salvage by your auto insurance provider
  • Complete the salvage title application form
  • Obtain the existing vehicle title and all lien release forms (if applicable)
  • Payment for all applicable Washington State titling fee(s)
  • Take the above-listed documentation in person to your local WA DOL branch

Is There a Different Between a Salvage Title and a Salvage Certificate?

Yes. A salvage certificate is given to vehicles that have been deemed a total loss, but no repairs have been made. A salvage title means the car has been cleared of the requirements to be deemed roadworthy.

Washington State Salvage Vehicle Inspection Requirements

If you want to rebuild your salvage car, you must repair the car and have it inspected by the Washington State Patrol (WSP). This inspection prevents the trafficking of stolen vehicles or stolen vehicle parts. During this inspection, the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) will be used to identify the car. An officer will inspect the components of the car that were used to reconstruct the vehicle.

Preparing for Your Salvage Vehicle Inspection

As a part of the salvage vehicle inspection in Washington State, you may be required to provide specific original documentation, such as proof of legal ownership of the vehicle. The following are other documents that may be required during the Washington State salvage vehicle inspection:

  • Washington State Patrol Inspection Request Form
  • Valid photo ID (such as your WA driver’s license)
  • Certificate of Title
  • Receipts for parts of the vehicle

Why is a Washington State Examination Required?

The Washing State law requires the WA DOL to determine if a rebuilt salvage vehicle is stolen or includes stolen parts. This examination is performed to do the following:

  • Protect consumers
  • Locate stolen items
  • Prevent the theft of vehicles and vehicle parts

What Type of Vehicles Require a Salvage Examination?

A salvage vehicle that is recovered after a theft or rebuilt after the damage must be examined by a Washington State Patrol officer before the WA DOL will issue a salvage title. Be advised that the WA DOL will NOT examine or issue a title for a rebuilt car that has an out-of-state title certificate or a salvage certificate that has any of the following labels:

  • Parts only
  • Non-rebuildable
  • Non-repairable
  • Scrapped
  • Destroyed

Vehicles with the above-listed labels are deemed not roadworthy, and because of this, the WA DOL will NOT examine or issue a new title certificate or vehicle registration for a rebuilt salvage vehicle that does NOT have a title certificate or salvage certificate proving ownership of the vehicle.

How to Register a Salvaged Car in Washington State

You can’t legally operate a salvaged car in Washington State which means you can’t register one either. Salvaged vehicles are not roadworthy, so the car needs to be rebuilt. Once you rebuild the car and it passes inspection, you can register a rebuilt salvage car and obtain a rebuilt title.

Is a Washington State Salvage Title Different from a Washington State Junk Title?

Awesome question! Salvage car titles and junk car titles are often confused with one another. A salvage car title allows you to give your car a second chance at life by repairing and rebuilding it with parts from other cars. However, junk car titles do NOT have this option. Once a car is deemed junk, it will never have any other label, and it’s best to junk it.

Who Buys Salvage Cars Near Me in Washington State?

The good news is you have options. There are multiple salvage yards in Washington State. Although we won’t list each salvage yard, we’ll list a few to help you get started.

E Z Auto Wrecking Inc.

1855 Rock Island Rd.

(509) 884-5000

Monday – Friday (8:30 AM – 5 PM)

Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

GT Metals & Salvage

2001 38th Ave.

Longview, WA 98632

(360) 423-9327

Monday – Thursday (9 AM – 4:15 PM)

Friday (9 AM -3:30 PM)

Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

Dick’s U Pull It

19708 Mountain Highway E.

Spanaway, WA 98387

(253) 847-9106

Monday (Closed)

Tuesday – Friday (9 AM – 4:30 PM)

Saturday and Sunday (9 AM – 4:30 PM)

Horseshoe Auto Wrecking

7360 State Highway 3 SW

Bremerton, WA 98312

(360) 674-2515

Monday – Friday (9 AM – 5 PM)

Saturday (9 AM – 3 PM)

Sunday (Closed)

Can You Insure a Salvage Title Car in Washington State?

You won’t be able to insure a salvage car in Washington State because they aren’t deemed roadworthy. You can, however, insure a salvage/rebuilt car in Washington State. To obtain auto insurance for your salvage rebuilt car, the car must pass the WA DOL salvage car inspection. Next, you need to re-title the car. Once you complete these steps, you can obtain auto insurance!

Can I Salvage My Car Without a Title in Washington State?

Documents often get lost, and we’re not judging. If you don’t have the car’s title, it’s not necessarily a reason to panic. If you have the car’s registration card, you’re good to go. You will need a document that proves you own the car you want to salvage.

Keep in mind that the following documents can be accepted in other situations for car transactions, but now for proof of ownership of the car:

  • A bill of sale (this is a document that can be forged easily)
  • Proof of insurance (it’s easy to insure a vehicle that is NOT in your name)
  • Cash and bribery (this one goes without saying, but just in case, cash and bribery won’t work because the salvage yard is responsible for reporting every car they obtain).

Depending on the car’s condition, the offer for your salvage car can range from a few hundred dollars and increase to a few thousand dollars!

How Long Does it Take to Receive My Funds?

Show me the money! We get it. There’s no better feeling than getting paid. You will have cash in hand once the tow truck driver inspects the car and checks the VIN to be sure they’re picking up the right vehicle.

Getting the Most Money for Your Salvage Car

If the goal of selling your salvage car is to get more money, you can sell the car’s parts by taking the car to a mechanic. They will identify the parts of the car that are salvageable and worth the most money.

Selling Your Car As-Is

Selling a salvage car can sometimes be a hassle you’re not willing to deal with because a lot of buyers are skeptical of the car’s reliability, especially if you rebuilt the car. This means you’ll have to play the waiting game until someone wants to buy your car. You’ll receive a lot of offers, but buyers tend to take their time when it comes to salvage cars because they want to make sure they’re aware of every detail of the car before making a commitment, which is fair.

If rebuilding your car is a hassle for you, you can also sell your car as-is, which is a great option for mechanics who are looking for a DIY project. When you sell your salvage car as-is, you don’t make any repairs to the car. You sell the car exactly how it is. No more, no less.

There are different online marketplaces you can use to sell your car, such as Craigslist and groups on social media, but be mindful of the platform’s selling fees and any other fees that may apply using their platform to sell your car.

Disclosing All Information

Since you’re selling a salvage car, you may be under the impression you can hand the new owner the keys and call it a day. Well, not quite. Even though your car is a salvage, you are responsible by law for informing all potential buyers of the car’s current and previous conditions.

This information includes telling potential buyers about the car’s salvage title, repairs that need to be made to the car, and any repairs you have made to the car. This is also the perfect time to provide copies of receipts you have for the repairs you had done to the car. You’ll also need information about the parts that were used to repair the car.

How Do You Apply for a Rebuilt Car Title in Washington State?

To apply for a rebuilt car title in Washington State, you’ll need to apply for a salvage title if you don’t currently have one. You must also make any repairs the car needs. Here are the steps you need to take.

Applying for a Rebuilt Car Title

Once your salvage car is repaired, you can start the process of obtaining a rebuilt vehicle title. To receive a rebuilt car title, make sure you do the following:

  • Have the vehicle towed to a Washington State Patrol office. (do NOT drive the car there – it’s illegal)
  • Schedule an appointment for an inspection (if you plan to sell the car)
  • Pay all applicable fees and licensing costs

Important Documents to Include with Your Washington State Rebuilt Title Application

You’ll want to make sure you have the following documents when you arrive at your inspection appointment:

  • Your Washington State Patrol Inspection Request (must have been completed by a licensing agent)
  • Valid ID
  • Original and salvage titles
  • Any receipts you have for repairs performed on the vehicle

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

From the start of this process to the end of the process, you’re looking at anywhere between 4 to 6 weeks. The exact length of time depends on how long it takes you or a mechanic to make the vehicle’s necessary repairs.

Washington State Vehicle Registration Fees

You are required to pay registration fees and taxes on your vehicle. Keep in mind that the exact registration cost will differ for every applicant. Vehicle registration fees are based on vehicle type, license plate type, and whether taxes are due. Other factors can be factored into these registration fees. Below you will find a list of the most common vehicle fees in Washington State:

  • Registration: $3
  • Registration and title: $7
  • License tab fee: $30
  • Plate transfer: $10
  • Electric car fee: $150
  • Emissions test: $15
  • Out-of-State service fee: $15
  • Trip permits: $25-$30

Congratulations! You just learned how to sell your salvage car in Washington State. Congratulations!