Tennessee salvage title certificates are issued by the state Department of Revenue (DOR). These credentials serve as important title documents that aim to catalog all vehicles in the state that were considered a total loss. Once your vehicle qualifies for a car salvage title, your original title certificate and registration will be invalidated. As such, cars that were branded salvage cannot be legally and safely operated until they are restored.

If you repair a salvage vehicle and restore it to roadworthy condition, you can qualify to apply for a TN rebuilt title. However, be mindful that your car will need to meet the safety standards established by the state DOR. On the other hand, if your vehicle has sustained extensive damages and was branded as non-repairable, you will not be able to obtain a new title and registration again. To learn more about salvage title cars and the process of repairing them, read the sections below.

What is a Tennessee salvage title?

A Tennessee salvage certificate is a type of title document that assigns ownership to motor vehicles that cannot be operated due to the fact that they have sustained heavy damages. Thus, the main purpose of a vehicle salvage title is to protect potential car sellers and buyers within the state, since the history of each vehicle impacts its value.

Similar to the TN salvage car title, the state DOR also issues a non-repairable title certificate. However, this document is in essence a vehicle’s death certificate, since it signifies that the car has sustained enough damages to prevent it from becoming operable again. Once a non-repairable certificate of title is issued, a vehicle owner can only sell or use his or her car for spare parts or scrap.

Note: You can only obtain a rebuilt title if you were originally issued a salvage certificate.

Tennessee Salvage Title Eligibility Requirements

In order to successfully apply for a salvage title in Tennessee, motorists must own a car that meets the definition of a total loss vehicle. Once the original owner determines that the car qualifies for a salvage vehicle title, he or she must file a total loss claim. Then, an auto insurance company must declare the vehicle a total loss if it meets the following criteria:

  • The vehicle is newer than 10 model years.
  • The damages to the vehicle exceed 75 percent of its retail value.
  • The vehicle is repairable.

The application process for a TN salvage certificate can be initiated when the insurance company pays off the vehicle as a total loss and informs the DOR of the fact.

How to Get a Salvage Title in Tennessee

If you are wondering how to get a salvage title in Tennessee, note that you will be required to send a mail-in request to the DOR Anti-Theft Unit, since the department does not accept in-person requests for this type of title. To successfully apply for a salvage title, follow these steps:

  1. Fill out the Application for Salvage or Non-Repairable Certificate (Form F1311801).
  2. Collect the existing certificate of title.
  3. Obtain lien release forms, if applicable.
  4. Mail the above items to the following address:
Tennessee Department of Revenue
Special Investigations Division
Anti-Theft Unit
44 Vantage Way, Suite 160
Nashville, TN 37243-8050

Once the state DOR receives your application, it will manufacture your new salvage title and mail it to your recorded address. Note that, if you check the “non-repairable certificate” box on the request form, you will receive a non-repairable title.

Salvage Car Inspections in Tennessee

Completing a salvage vehicle inspection in Tennessee is not a requirement for getting a car salvage certificate. However, when applying for a rebuilt salvage title, the restored vehicle will have to pass an anti-theft inspection before it is relicensed. The purpose of this examination is to check the vehicle’s roadworthiness and the origin of the parts used to rebuild it. To initiate the application process for a TN rebuilt title, you will have to complete the Application for Motor Vehicle Identification Certification (Form RV-F1315401) and mail it to the Anti-Theft Unit along with the following items:

  • The initial salvage title
  • Photographs of the wrecked vehicle
  • A payment for the applicable fee
  • A notarized affidavit with the rebuilder’s information, if you did not restore the vehicle yourself
  • Receipts for the component parts used to rebuild the vehicle, which must include information about the car and the parties involved in its sale

The state DOR will schedule a salvage car inspection in TN after it receives your rebuilt title request. Once you arrive at the scheduled location, your vehicle will undergo a thorough inspection. If it passes the inspection, the salvage certificate will be stamped and returned to you along with the abovementioned paperwork. You can then submit all documents through a nearby county clerk’s office in order to obtain a new title and car registration.

Note: The Tennessee DOR may determine that an inspection is not needed under certain circumstances.

Tennessee Salvage Title Fees

When applying for a salvage title in Tennessee, applicants will not be required to pay any titling fees, since the DOR issues its salvage and non-repairable certificates at no charge. However, if you repair the vehicle and apply for a rebuilt title, you will be required to remit payment for the $75 conversion fee.

As a general rule, these fees will remain the same regardless of whether or not your motor vehicle has to pass an inspection.

Last updated on Tuesday, March 10 2020.