Get the Most for Your Totaled Car: Tips and Tricks
Michael Collado is a car buying expert and has been a professional automotive writer since 2009. He’s written about dealership sales, vehicle reviews and comparisons, and service and maintenance for over 100 national automotive dealerships. Previously, Collado was a copywriter at the ad agency TBWA/Chiat/Day where he worked on brand campaigns for Nissan, ABC Television, Sony PlayStation, and Energizer. His recognition in the ad industry includes awards from Communication Arts and The Clios.
Collado has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida, with a major in Psychology and a minor in Marketing.
Days after a wreck and inspection, you got the call; your insurance company declared your precious car a “total loss.”
You decided to take the cash and sell your car. What now?
Here are some tips on how to sell a totaled car with confidence by researching local laws, vetting buyers carefully, and being honest about repairs.
- Get a fair price for your car no matter the condition (totaled, flooded, scrap, etc.)
- Instant cash offer, good for 7 days
- Free towing and you'll avoid typical junk removal fees
- Sell your vehicle without leaving your home.
Table of Contents
What Is a Totaled Car?
A car is considered “totaled” when the cost of repairs outweighs its market value.
It may have been involved in an accident, damaged by a natural disaster, or simply worn out from age and lack of maintenance. When the repair costs become more than three-fourths of the car’s ACV, it’s considered totaled.
While the term “totaled” typically refers to a vehicle declared a total loss by an insurance company, it can also refer to any car that has suffered catastrophic damage and can’t be repaired.
Causes of a Totaled Car
The most common cause of a totaled car is a serious accident that causes a car to require repairs that cost more than the value of the car.
Other factors can include flood damage due to extreme weather events like hurricanes and earthquakes, malicious acts including graffiti and theft, fires caused by faulty wiring or engine failure, major breakdowns due to worn-out parts, structural deterioration resulting from rusting frames or body panels, and general wear-and-tear over time that leads up to complete disrepair.
Determining if Your Car Is Totaled
Once you have filed an accident claim, contact your insurer if it looks like the car may be irreparable. They will send out their adjusters/appraisers who will inspect your vehicle before making their determination on whether it is salvageable or not based on things like labor hours needed for repairs and replacement part prices.
If they deem it unrepairable, they’ll declare it totaled and provide you with compensation equal to its ACV minus any applicable deductibles under your policy coverage terms.
Understanding Insurance Claims and Salvage Titles
Insurance companies handle total loss claims differently depending on the state and type of coverage you have. Generally, if your car is considered a total loss, the insurer will pay out an amount equal to its actual cash value (ACV). This amount takes into account depreciation as well as any remaining loan balance or other liens against the vehicle. The ACV payment will go towards paying off any loans associated with the car before being given to you.
A salvage title indicates that a vehicle has been declared a total loss by an insurance company due to damage from an accident or other incident. Even if the repairs don’t add up to a total loss, but still cause enough damage for an insurer to declare it totaled, you’ll get a salvage title when selling it. In some states, vehicles with salvage titles can be registered and driven legally after they’ve been repaired; however, most states require them to be inspected first in order for this process to occur.
Once all the necessary paperwork is collected and submitted to your local DMV, they will review it and issue a new title if approved, denoting that the vehicle is now salvaged property instead of being fit for regular use.
Preparing to Sell Your Totaled Car
When you’re preparing to sell a totaled car, make sure that you have all of the necessary documentation in order. This includes vehicle registration and title, proof of ownership, repair estimates or invoices from any work done on the car prior to it being totaled, and insurance documents related to the accident.
Once the paperwork is in order, check for any minor repairs that could be done, like replacing a broken headlight or fixing a dented fender. Even if major repairs are not possible due to cost or lack of parts availability, giving it a good wash and wax job will make it look more appealing and increase its value slightly.
Finally, get an accurate car value estimate so you know what a reasonable asking price would be.
Selling a Totaled Car
When searching for buyers, consider all of your options carefully. Sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace are one of the most popular methods of selling a totaled car, but local salvage yards or junkyards may offer better deals depending on the condition of your vehicle.
Our recommendation is to check out a site like CarBrain [review]. We found them to be the easiest and quickest way to sell a totaled car.
Be sure to research any local laws or regulations regarding selling a totaled vehicle before advertising your car anywhere.
When discussing prices with prospective buyers, be honest about what they can expect from purchasing your damaged car. This includes disclosing any issues that could affect its performance or safety down the road (e.g., frame damage).
It’s important not to over-promise anything when negotiating with potential buyers, since this could cause legal complications later on if they feel misled by false information given during negotiations.
Once these steps have been completed successfully, both parties can sign off on their deal and move forward with exchanging payment/vehicle keys accordingly.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the process for selling a totaled car?
To sell a totaled car, you need to obtain any paperwork related to repairs or damage done to the car, reach out to those who might be in the market for a used car with issues or hit up your local salvage yard, then negotiate a fair price for both parties and sign any necessary documents that transfer ownership of the car from you to the buyer.
How do I determine the value of my totaled car?
To determine the value of a totaled car, first, obtain an estimate from your insurance company, then investigate online to figure out the normal sale cost of cars like yours. Remember to consider any special features or upgrades that have been made to the car when assessing its total value.
Are there any special considerations when selling a totaled car?
When selling a totaled car, it’s important to be aware of the potential legal implications and research what documents are required for registration in your state before selling the car.
Where can I find buyers interested in purchasing a totaled car?
You can find buyers interested in purchasing a totaled car by searching online classifieds such as Craigslist or eBay Motor or checking with local salvage yards, junkyards, and auto recyclers who often purchase totaled cars for parts or scrap metal. However, we think CarBrain is the quickest and most stress-free option.
Is it possible to get money from an insurance company for a totaled car?
Yes, it is possible to get money from an insurance company for a totaled car.