Getting a South Carolina salvage title through the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is an important step if you own a motor vehicle that has sustained damages that exceed a large percentage of its actual value. Moreover, in order to obtain a car salvage certificate, your vehicle must meet the applicable total loss definition established by your auto insurance company.

In most cases, the application process for salvage title cars in SC is completed by insurers, regardless of whether a vehicle is acquired by the insurance company or remains with its original owner. If the car is repairable, it may later qualify for a rebuilt title as well, provided that the necessary repairs are conducted and the vehicle is restored to operable status. On the other hand, unrepairable vehicles will only be eligible for junk certificates, which indicate that they can only be sold for their parts.

What is a South Carolina salvage title?

The salvage car title issued by the South Carolina DMV is a unique type of titling document that brands a vehicle as salvage. The primary purpose of these types of certificates is to protect car buyers and sellers by documenting the history of all motor vehicles in the state. As such, the salvage brand added to a car title is permanent.

On the other hand, an SC vehicle salvage brand also indicates that a car is repairable and may be relicensed in the future, provided that it is repaired to a roadworthy condition. However, if your car title is branded as a non-rebuildable or parts-only title, your vehicle will be permanently disqualified from obtaining new vehicle documents, regardless of whether or not it undergoes any repairs.

South Carolina Salvage Title Eligibility Requirements

The state DMV will issue a salvage title in South Carolina only for motor vehicles that meet the criteria to be declared total loss, thus being marked as salvage. Auto insurance companies are generally responsible for categorizing a vehicle as a total loss if it sustains damages that exceed 74 percent of its fair market value. Furthermore, vehicles will only qualify for a salvage certificate if:

  • They are not marked as “non-rebuildable.”
  • They are valued at $2,000 or greater.
  • They are not titled as antique vehicles.

Insurance companies also have the option of declaring salvage title cars as total losses even if they cost less than $2,000 or have sustained damages below 75 percent of their actual value. In such cases, however, insurers will follow slightly different policies. For instance, motor vehicles damaged by fire and water may receive the salvage title brand even if their damages are less than 75 percent of their value.

How to Get a Salvage Title in South Carolina

The application process for getting a car salvage title in South Carolina can be initiated as soon as the corresponding insurance company settles its total loss claim. Note that, in order to obtain a salvage title, insurance companies will have to submit the necessary paperwork to the state DMV, regardless of whether they acquire the vehicle or the original owner retains it. To successfully apply for a salvage certificate, insurance agents must complete these steps:

  1. Fill out the Application for Salvage/Branded Certificate of Title (Form 400-S).
  1. Mark whether the vehicle was deemed “rebuildable” or “non-rebuildable.”
  2. Choose the source of the damage, such as water, fire or collision.
  3. Mark the “stolen-recovered” or the “stolen-unrecovered” box, if applicable.
  1. Complete the Request for Total Loss Title (Form TR-3) document, if the vehicle damages amount to less than 75 percent of its value or if the car’s value is lower than $2,000.
  2. Collect the vehicle title from the car owner, if applicable.
  3. Obtain any lien release forms, if applicable.
  4. Arrange payment for the applicable title fee.
  5. Mail the abovementioned items to the DMV mailing address listed on the form.

If an owner is retaining his or her vehicle and its SC salvage car title, the insurance agent must also check the “owner-retained” box on the application form, as well as send a letter stating that the owner is keeping possession of the vehicle. In such cases, the title certificate must not be assigned to the insurance company, since the new title will be returned to the original owner once the DMV manufactures it.

Note: The application for a salvage title certificate can also be submitted in person if the vehicle is considered “rebuildable.”

Salvage Car Inspections in South Carolina

The department will issue a salvage title in South Carolina without requiring the vehicle to pass an inspection process. However, if you plan on applying for a rebuilt salvage title after restoring a wrecked car, you will have to apply for a two-phase vehicle examination process completed through the DMV.

The first step in obtaining an SC rebuilt tile is to schedule a pre-inspection with the state DMV, which will take place within eight days. In general, repairs can begin as soon as a DMV employee takes pictures and inspects the salvage motor vehicle. Once the rebuilding process is completed, you can schedule the full salvage vehicle inspection by contacting the DMV and providing your rebuilder’s information. The department may also designate another inspection site.

At the start of the inspection process for a rebuilt salvage title, the inspector will require you to pay for the inspection fee, provide detailed vehicle records and submit any receipts for the components used to rebuild the car. The records must include the vehicle identification numbers (VINs) of all parts, the car owner’s personal information, a description of the vehicle and several photographs. If the examiner determines that the vehicle meets the state safety standards, he or she will issue a final inspection report, which will be needed to apply for a restored salvage title.

South Carolina Salvage Title Fees

An important part of the application process for South Carolina salvage titles and rebuilt salvage certificates is paying the DMV titling costs. The standard title fee, which includes both car salvage certificates and salvage rebuilt titles, is currently set at $15. While this single fee applies when buying a salvage title, car owners will have to arrange payment for additional costs if they choose to apply for a rebuilt title.

For instance, the fee for the vehicle inspection is currently set at $50. These costs must be paid before the restored vehicle can be titled and registered again after being repaired. Nonetheless, applicable registration costs will vary depending on factors such as a vehicle’s type and weight.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 10 2020.