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Selling your car can be a task you’re not looking forward to because of the required paperwork and processes you may have to endure. Selling a salvage car can be even more of a pain, but we’re here to help. We’re about to discuss everything you need to know to sell your salvage car in Wisconsin.

Table of Contents

Getting Prepared

The entire salvage car selling process will be completed through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). All required paperwork, such as forms, identification, and other documents, will be submitted to the WI DOT. If you choose to repair and rebuild your car to legally operate it on roads and highways, you will visit your local WI DOT branch to apply for the rebuilt car title. We’ll discuss rebuilt car titles later on in this article.

How Does Wisconsin Define a Salvage Vehicle?

The Wisconsin DOT defines a salvage vehicle as one that is a total loss. Salvage cars in WI are under 7 years old and have been severely damaged and the cost to repair the car to operable order exceeds at least 70% of its fair market value.

You have different options when it comes to dealing with your salvaged vehicle. You can repair the car and drive it once again, sell it, scrap it, or junk it. If you plan on driving your car again, you are required to obtain a Wisconsin salvage title, and then apply for a reconstructed, also referred to as a rebuilt car title.

What is a Fair Market Value?

Fair market value refers to the price of an asset. In this instance, the asset is your car. This value is the price your car would sell for on the market with both parties (the buyer and the seller) acting in their own interest, meaning you know you’re selling a salvage car, and the buyer is aware they’re purchasing a salvage car.

Can I File a Total Loss Claim in Wisconsin?

Sure. Total loss claims are between you and your auto insurance provider. Usually, the first step you’ll take when your car suffers extensive damage is to file a total loss claim with your auto insurance company.

If your auto insurance company deems your vehicle salvaged, you will likely be offered the choice of accepting a full or partial settlement.

Full or Partial Settlement

Once your vehicle is deemed a salvage or “total loss”, you can accept a full or partial settlement. Here’s what you need to know.

Accepting a Full Settlement

If you accept a full settlement, you take payment for the replacement of your car, less any deductions in your policy, and sign the vehicle over to your auto insurance provider. Aside from releasing any liens, if applicable, the car is no longer your responsibility.

Accepting a Partial Settlement

If you choose to accept a partial settlement with your auto insurance provider, you are accepting partial payment, minus any deductions that are outlined in your auto insurance policy. You also retain ownership of the vehicle. You’ll want to choose this option if you want to repair your car and apply for a Wisconsin rebuilt car title.

Also, when you accept a partial settlement, you can sell the car to a business that deals with scrap car parts, such as a salvage yard, junkyard, or recycler.

Salvage Title vs. Rebuilt Title

We’ve mentioned salvage and rebuilt titles quite a bit in this article already. So, what’s the difference between the two titles? Good question. A salvage title is what your car has now. No repairs have been made, and because of this, it is illegal to operate a salvage car because it is unsafe to drive.

A rebuilt car title is a once-salvage car that has been repaired and passed the proper inspections and processes in Wisconsin to be safely and legally operated on roads and highways again.

How to Avoid Salvage Title Fraud

Salvage title fraud becomes an essential topic if you plan on selling your salvage car, even if you make the required repairs, then sell your car. It’s not a crime to sell a salvage car. It is, however, a crime to sell your salvage car without the buyer knowing the car is a salvage. If your car has any of the following branded titles below, your car is considered a salvage:

  • Totaled
  • Warranty Returned
  • Junk
  • Reconditioned
  • Non-repairable
  • Reconstructed/Rebuilt
  • Flood damaged
  • Damaged payback

Essential Documents for Selling Your Car in Wisconsin

You’ll need the following documents to sell your car in Wisconsin:

  • The car’s title (the car must be in your name)
  • Odometer disclosure
  • Title brand (if applicable)
  • Lien release (if applicable)

Unlike other states, Wisconsin does not require a bill of sale or a safety inspection. However, you may want to have a bill of sale for you and the buyer as a receipt to provide legal protection. In Wisconsin, you can sell up to 5 vehicles that are titled under your name within 12 months. Before handing over the keys to your car, you must remove the license plates and remove the auto coverage.

What Information is Included In Wisconsin’s Bill of Sale?

Although a bill of sale is not required, we recommend that you have one for yourself and the car’s buyer just in case something needs to be clarified. You’ll want to make sure the following information is included in your Wisconsin bill of sale:

  • Date of sale
  • Make, model, and year of the car
  • A complete description of the vehicle (color, body, style)
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Odometer reading
  • Buyer’s full name and address
  • Seller’s full name and address
  • The purchase price of the vehicle
  • You and the buyer’s signature

Can I Sell My Salvaged Car Without the Title in Wisconsin?

Lost your car’s title? That won’t be a problem if you’re selling your car for scrap. However, you can’t sell a working vehicle without its title unless you are a licensed dealer. You can contact a local WI junkyard and see if they are interested in purchasing your car without the title. Otherwise, you will be required to apply for a new car title or to sell the car through a licensed dealer.

Can I Sell My Salvaged Car Without the Registration in Wisconsin?

Likely, you won’t have to worry about providing the car’s registration. Although the registration card is an essential document, it’s not necessary to sell a car, even if your car is a salvage.

The car’s title is what’s important. As long as you have the title, and the car is in your name, you shouldn’t have any problems selling or rebuilding the car. If you’ve misplaced the car’s title, you’ll need to apply for a duplicate car title.

How Do I Apply for a Duplicate Wisconsin Car Title?

You can apply for a duplicate Wisconsin car title by applying for one online, by mail, or in person at your local WI DMV branch. The fee to replace your WI car title is $20. If you use the online service, you will be charged an online convenience fee.

Also, if there is a lien on your vehicle, the title will be sent to the lienholder. You will receive a Confirmation of Ownership document that contains the same information as the car title. You can NOT use this ownership document to transfer ownership of your car. To address any questions or concerns you may have, call the WI DMV by calling (608) 266-2353 or sending a message to the WI DMV email service.

Applying for a Duplicate Car Title Online

To apply for your replacement car title online, you must provide the following information:

  • The last four digits of your Social Security number (SSN)
  • Your date of birth
  • A valid email address
  • Your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Your WI driver’s license number or ID card number
  • A valid credit or debit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express) – You can also make an ACH payment using your checking or savings account with an e-check.

You should receive your duplicate car title within 10 business days. Be advised that once you complete the online process, you can’t cancel your transaction and receive a refund.

Applying for a Duplicate Car Title in Person

To request a duplicate car title in person, you must do the following:

  • Complete a Replacement Title Application (Form MV2119) You must sign the form.
  • Your driver’s license or Wisconsin ID card. Failure to provide proof of identity will result in the WI DMV mailing the duplicate car title to the vehicle owner on file or its lienholder
  • Take your completed form to a DMV service center that offers titling services
  • Pay the duplicate title fee of $20, plus an additional $5 service fee

The Wisconsin DMV accepts cash, checks, most debit cards, VISA, American Express, and Discover. When you apply for your duplicate car title in person, you will leave the WI DMV branch with your duplicate title in hand!

If you are having someone else go to the service center on your behalf, that individual must complete a Permission to Pick Up Title (Form MV2932) and take the proper photo identification. Otherwise, your title will be mailed to you.

Applying for a Duplicate Car Title By Mail

You can also apply for a duplicate car title by mail. You will need to send a completed Replacement Title Application (Form MV2119) with a check or money order for $20 to the following address:

Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 7949
Madison, WI 53707

If you have specific questions regarding the duplicate title process in Wisconsin, call the WI DMV at (608) 264-7447.

How Do I Get a Wisconsin Salvage Car Title?

To apply for a Wisconsin salvage title, you need the following:

  • The original car title (the title must be in your name)
  • A completed Title Application/Branding Notification (Form MV2849). Be advised that you can’t use this form if there is still a lien on your car. You must make arrangements with your lienholder to remove the lien before continuing this process. Otherwise, your lienholder may be required to apply for the WI salvaged title.
  • All applicable paperwork from your auto insurance provider stating the car is a total loss by Wisconsin standards
  • A written statement from you that confirms the vehicle is a salvage
  • A check made payable to “Registration Fee Trust” for the following application fees:
    • Title fee: $164.50
    • Counter fee: $5

You must mail everything to the following address:

Wisconsin Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 7949
Madison, WI 53707

Once you’ve received your WI salvaged car title, you can start the repair process! You’ll be one step closer to obtaining your rebuilt car title. Before you start making the necessary repairs, you must take pictures of the front, back, and sides of the car to document the damage. You will need these photos when you have your vehicle inspected. For more information or help with your salvage car, and the next steps in this process, call the WI DMV at (608) 264-7447.

Wisconsin Rebuilt Salvage Car Inspections

Wisconsin salvage vehicle inspections are performed to ensure the parts you used to repair your car are not stolen and to confirm your vehicle meets the state’s safety standards. To start this process, you need to make an appointment with a certified salvage vehicle inspecting agency.

At your appointment, the salvage vehicle inspector will ask you to provide the following:

  • A completed Title/License Plate Application (Form MV1)
  • Major Parts Statement (Form MV2673)
  • Your rebuilt/repaired vehicle. The exterior, engine, and transmission areas must be clean. You can drive the vehicle to and from the inspection site without a permit or registration.
  • The salvage title
  • Proof of identification
  • 4 pictures of the car before repairs were made. The pictures must show the front, rear, and sides of the vehicle.
  • An original bill of sale for each replacement part, which must include the following:
    • Name of the part
    • Make, model, year, and vehicle identification number of the vehicle from with the part(s) came. If this information isn’t available, you must include the name of the significant part(s) seller and state the vehicle source as unknown.
  • Date of sale
  • Seller’s signature
  • Buyer’s name (your name)
  • The price you paid for the part
  • An envelope with first-class U.S. postage

You will address the envelope according to whether you’d like standard or fast service. The inspector uses this envelope to submit your reconstructed title documents and fees to the WI DMV.

You must make a check payable to “Registration Fee Trust” for the applicable fees:

  • Inspection fee: $80
  • Reconstructed car title: $164.50
  • Vehicle registration: $85

Before your inspection appointment, you may want to call the inspection station to confirm you have the required documents and fees and ask any last-minute questions about the salvage inspection.

What Components Are Checked During a Wisconsin Safety/Rebuilt Inspection?

The following major components may be checked multiple times during the WI rebuilt inspections:

  • Engine (motor) with or without accessories
  • Transmission
  • Nose – the part of the body from the front to the firewall when acquired or transferred as a complete unit
  • Frame – the part of the vehicle upon which other parts are affixed, such as the engine, body, or transmission
  • Door
  • Body – the portion of a vehicle determining its shape and appearance and is attached to the frame but does not include the box or bed for a truck
  • Rear clip -two or more of the following that are dismantled from the same vehicle:
    • A quarter panel or fender
    • Floor panel assembly
    • Trunk lid or gate
  • Cowl – the part of the car that houses the windshield and instrument panel

However, with safety inspections, the inspector is checking to make sure that your car is safe to operate on the roads and highways, and that your vehicle is not stolen or was repaired with stolen parts. You will need specific paperwork, such as bills of sale and receipts to show where the parts came from.

Can a Car Fail a Wisconsin Vehicle Inspection?

Yes. Your car can fail a Wisconsin vehicle inspection. If your car fails inspection because the vehicle is stolen or stolen parts were used to repair your car, the inspector may seize the vehicle. Any inspector who is not a law enforcement officer must notify a law enforcement officer about the discovery of a stolen vehicle or a vehicle that contains stolen parts. This includes stolen parts that have been altered or removed, and obliterated vehicle identification numbers (VIN).

If you fail the WI vehicle inspection, you can request a 15-day reinspection, allowing you to correct equipment or safety defects. The inspector can schedule the reinspection for any date up to 15 calendar days from the date of inspection, but can’t require that the re-inspection be performed less than 3 calendar days from the date of the initial inspection. No additional fees will be charged for reinspection. You can find more information about failed WI vehicle inspections by viewing the Wisconsin Admin Code Trans 149.07.

How Long Will It Take to Register a Salvaged Car in Wisconsin?

Unfortunately, you can’t register a salvage car in West Virginia. If you would like to register your vehicle, the vehicle must be repaired and pass a safety and rebuilt car inspection. Once these steps are complete, you can apply for a rebuilt car title and register your car.

Tax, Title, and Registration Fees in Wisconsin

The sales tax that’s charged on WI car purchases is 5%. You can expect to pay at least 5% of the total vehicle price for the tax fee. In addition to this fee, there may be a county tax fee of up to 0.5%, along with the stadium tax of up to 0.1%.

Title fees for a standard vehicle in WI is $164.50 for the original title or title transfer. A title replacement is $20. There’s no fee to transfer a car title to a surviving spouse or registered domestic partner. A title for a low-speed vehicle is $157.

A standard vehicle is charged an $85 annual registration fee. If you’re driving a hybrid or an electric vehicle, it may cost more. Hybrid vehicles have a $75 surcharge, while electric vehicles have a $100 surcharge.

Salvage, Junk, and Rebuilt Car Titles

Let’s start with junk cars. Cars that have a “junk” brand can’t be repaired or altered in any way to be legally operated on roads and highways. The only option you have with a junk car is to sell it to a junkyard or salvage yard.

Salvage title cars, however, can be repaired and legally operated on roads and highways. The car must pass an inspection. Once the car passes inspection, the owner can apply for a rebuilt car title.

A rebuilt car title is what you need if you want to hit the road again in your once-salvage car. You’ll receive this car title once the car passes inspection.

Who Buys Salvage Cars Near Me in Wisconsin?

There are a lot of different salvage yards in Wisconsin. However, you should choose a salvage yard that’s local to you. We’ve listed a handful of WI salvage yards to help you on your salvage car journey.

Avery’s Auto Salvage
12930 Avery Rd.
Two Rivers, WI 54241
(920) 755-2848
Monday – Friday (8 AM – 5 PM)
Saturday (8 AM – 12 PM)
Sunday (Closed)

Yaeger Auto Salvage
8205 Camp Phillips Rd.
Weston, WI 54476
(715) 359-3606
Monday – Friday (8 AM – 5 PM)
Saturday (8 AM – 12 PM)
Sunday (Closed)

Morrison’s Auto Inc.
6307 W. State Road 59
Edgerton, WI 53534
(608) 306-5015
Monday – Friday (8 AM – 5 PM)
Saturday and Sunday (Closed)

Gauger & Son Salvage, Inc.
7692 Helena Rd.
Arena, WI 53503
(608) 753-2656
Monday – Friday (8 AM – 4 PM)
Saturday (8 AM – 1 PM)
Sunday (Closed)

How Long Will It Take to Obtain Auto Insurance On My Salvage Car?

Getting a salvage car insured in Wisconsin isn’t possible because it still maintains a salvage brand. You can repair the car and have it inspected. If it passes inspection, you can get a Wisconsin rebuilt car title. At this time, you can get insurance on your once-salvage car.

Can I Salvage My Car Without the Title in Wisconsin?

You may or may not be able to salvage your car without a title, depending on the car’s age and condition. Cars that are between 15 and 25 years old may be exempt from requiring a title to salvage it.

If your car is being sold for scrap, it can be sold without a title as long as you have a Bill of Sale. If the vehicle is not a collectible or scrap, you are required to have a car title. If you plan on rebuilding your car and then selling it, you are required to have a car title. In this case, you will use the car’s rebuilt car title. If you’re selling your salvage car as-is to a junkyard or scrap yard, the car’s title won’t be necessary. However, you must have a bill of sale.

Wisconsin Bill of Sale

If you’re selling your salvage car to a salvage yard or junkyard in Wisconsin, you’ll need a bill of sale. You need to make sure the bill of sale includes the following information:

  • Date of sale
  • Make, model, and year of the car
  • A complete description of the vehicle (color, body, style)
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Odometer reading
  • Buyer’s full name and address
  • Seller’s full name and address
  • The purchase price of the vehicle
  • You and the buyer’s signature

The purpose of submitting a bill of sale is to provide legal documentation for the sale of a vehicle. This document can be used as a receipt for the buyer and provides the seller with proof that you no longer own the vehicle.

What Are My Options for Selling My Salvage Car in Wisconsin?

One of the most important things you need to keep in mind when selling a salvage car is to maintain realistic expectations. Since you’re not selling a brand-new vehicle that’s in mint condition, you should expect the price tag to show that. However, this does not mean you won’t receive any money. Let’s discuss your salvage car selling options in Wisconsin.

Private Sale

Selling your car in a private sale is what you will do if you sell your car to another business and not a business. If you’re in no hurry to make a quick buck, selling your salvage car in a private sale could be a good option.

Salvage Yard or Junkyard

You can also sell your salvage car to a salvage yard or junkyard. This is the best selling option if you want to make money quickly without the hassles of completing paperwork to repair the car and obtain a rebuilt car title. Keep in mind that although you don’t need the car’s title, you will need a bill of sale.

Selling Your Car for Parts

Parting out your car is another selling option. This is the best selling option if you want the opportunity to make a shiny penny. However, if you don’t know your way around a car fairly well, this can be a daunting and frustrating task. You can still sell your car for parts, but if you are not mechanically inclined, you may want to consider hiring a mechanic to ensure you get the most money for your car’s parts.

Selling As-Is

Selling your car as-is is the best option if you want nothing to do with the car. This means you don’t want the hassle of repairing it, getting it to pass inspection, and then applying for a rebuilt car title. Once you sell the car, all responsibilities of repairing and maintaining the car are the new owner’s responsibility.

Difficulties You Could Face When Selling Your Salvage Car in Wisconsin

Selling a salvage car can be more than complicated and frustrating at times. You’re aware of the different ways you can sell your car, so choose the option that you’re willing to complete. If you plan on selling your car in a private sale, honesty is your best option.

Make sure you provide a detailed description of the car. You are required by Wisconsin law to disclose that your car is a salvage. However, disclosing more information about the car can help you sell the car quickly. Failure to disclose that you are selling a salvage car could result in unnecessary penalties and fines.

Applying for a Wisconsin Rebuilt Car Title

You will need the following documents to apply for a Wisconsin rebuilt car title:

  • The vehicle’s salvage title
  • 4 photos of the salvage vehicle before repairs were made
  • A completed Request for Repaired or Rebuilt Salvage Vehicle Examination
  • A completed Title/License Plate Application (Form MV1)
  • A completed Major Parts Statement (Form MV2673)

You are also required to prepare an affidavit with the following information:

  • Major parts used in the reconstruction of the vehicle
  • Model/make/year/VIN of the vehicle the parts came from
  • Date of sale of the parts and signature of seller (if the seller is unknown, the affidavit must reflect this)
  • Signature of the buyer of the parts and amount paid
  • Certification of the vehicle passing inspection
  • Payment for all applicable fees – a check for $329.50 must be made payable to “Registration Fee Trust” inclusive of the following fees:
    • Reconstructed car title: $164.50
    • Vehicle registration: $85
    • Inspection fee: $80

Once your vehicle passes inspection, it is the inspector’s responsibility to send this documentation, as well as the applicable fees, to your local WI DMV branch. If everything clears with the WI DMV, your rebuilt title will be mailed to you.

How Long Will It Take to Receive My Wisconsin Rebuilt Car Title?

The rebuilding process of your car from beginning to end can take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks. The exact length of time to complete this process depends on how long it takes to make the necessary repairs, as well as the application processing time.

How Will a Rebuilt Car Title Affect My Car’s Value?

As we’ve stated before, your car still has value, but it won’t be worth as much as the same model car that has a clean title, meaning there are no damages that exceed at least 70% of the car’s fair market value.

Since your auto insurance provider deemed your car a “total loss” this will affect the car’s value, but it does not mean that your car has no value. Even if you make the necessary repairs to make the car legally able to drive, it will not have value as a car with the same make and model, and no salvage or rebuilt car title.

Can I Obtain an Auto Insurance Policy for My Rebuilt Title Car?

Yes! Once you obtain a rebuilt car title, you can get auto insurance. However, you may not be eligible to obtain a full coverage policy. If you have a decent driving record, it’s likely you won’t see an increase in your auto insurance premiums.