A California salvage title is a legal certificate of car ownership issued to individuals who possess damaged motor vehicles that cannot be legally operated without such a document. Vehicle owners may apply for a revived salvage certificate through the California Department of Motor Vehicles (CA DMV) in situations when their vehicles have been reported as a total loss.

Motorists who want to obtain a revived title for their salvage title cars may have to first satisfy certain eligibility requirements and then complete the mandatory procedure. Moreover, they may also be required to have their vehicles inspected in order to determine the exact level of damage made to the car. To discover more information about how to get a salvage title car in California, continue reading the following sections.

What is a California salvage title?

A DMV salvage title in California is a legal document certifying the ownership rights over a motor vehicle which has been damaged due to an accident or other circumstances. Vehicle owners may apply for a revived salvage title when it has been previously reported as a total loss and later restored to a good operational condition by the vehicle owner.

This report may be submitted to the CA DMV by the owner or by the insurance company. Moreover, the CA DMV also issues revived junk title certificates for vehicles that were previously junk vehicles and rebuilt to a good driving condition.

California Salvage Title Eligibility Requirements

Prior to getting a revived salvage title in California, vehicle owners may be required to satisfy certain eligibility criteria. One of the eligibility requirements that motorists need to satisfy is to have their vehicle reported to the CA DMV as a total loss. The report may be submitted by the owner of the motor vehicle or by the insurance company to the CA DMV and after that the vehicle may be restored to a good driving condition. When reviving junk or salvage title cars, owners may be required to satisfy additional criteria, depending on their specific situation. Therefore, they need to learn the exact procedural steps prior to beginning with the process.

How to Get a Salvage Title in California

Vehicle owners may obtain a revived salvage title in California after they restore their total loss vehicle. To do so, they need to perform a specific procedure and complete the following steps:

  • Visit a local CA DMV branch.
  • Complete a standard Application for Title or Registration (form REG 343).
  • Provide proof of ownership.
  • Provide a Verification of Vehicle (form REG 31) or CHP Certificate of Inspection (form CHP 97C)
  • Submit certificates for the vehicle’s brake and light adjustment.
  • Submit payment for the applicable fees.

In addition to the above-listed documents for revived salvage certificate of title, vehicle owners may also need to complete and submit other papers and surrender their current license plates. For instance, they may have to complete the following:

  • Application for Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate (form REG 488C)
  • Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment (form REG 262)
  • Statement of Facts (form REG 256)
  • Declaration of Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW)/Combined Gross Vehicle Weight (CGW) (form REG 4008)
  • Permanent Trailer Identification (PTI) Application and Certification (form REG 4017)
  • Smog certification
  • Weight certification

Salvage Car Inspections in California

California car salvage owners must undergo a vehicle inspection when they are applying for a revived salvage or revived junk title for their motor vehicles. The vehicle inspection is conducted either at the CA DMV or at the California Highway Patrol (CHP). When motorists need to have their vehicles inspected at the CHP, they need to do the following:

  • Contact the CHP and schedule an appointment.
  • Provide proof of ownership, bill of sale for vehicle parts and repair receipts.
  • Submit a Certificate of Inspection (form CHP 97C) and other requirements to the CA DMV.
  • Pay a nonrefundable inspection fee to the CA DMV when presenting a registration application.

In addition to the CHP salvage vehicle inspection, vehicles may have to pass other inspections, as well. For instance, vehicle owners may have to perform a brake or light inspection and provide certificates for most types of vehicles. Furthermore, motorists may also have to have their vehicles undergo a smog inspection at a state-licensed smog inspection station for certain types of vehicles.

California Salvage Title Fees

The final step of the application process for a California salvage title certificate requires vehicle owners to submit payment for the applicable fees to the CA DMV. Motorists may be mandated to pay several types of fees, depending on their specific situation. For instance, vehicle owners may have to submit payment for: registration, salvage certificate, CHP inspection, vehicle license (VLF), weight, salvage and dismantled vehicle inspection, cargo theft interdiction program (CTIP), commercial vehicle registration act (CVRA) and/or permanent trailer identification (PTI) service fee.

Moreover, motorists might be required to pay fees for certain services, penalties, transfer, substitute license plate, duplicate title, prior history and/or use tax, all depending on their county and residence status. Therefore, motorists need to discover more information about the guidelines that apply to their specific situation, prior to paying the fee to the CA DMV.

Last updated on Tuesday, February 26 2019.

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