How to Sell a Totaled Car for Cash

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

What's in this Article

First have your insurance company deem the car totaled. Then, look to sell it to a junk or scrap yard as they can re-use parts and scrap the metal. Selling a totaled car privately or to a dealership may be difficult. So you were in an accident and now the car is totaled. You want to sell it, but who is going to buy a totaled car?

The recycled material gathered from old vehicles totals 25 million tons. But maybe you aren’t ready to give up on your car and send it to recycling. If you know how to sell a totaled car then you have another option.  

Follow this guide and we’ll help you get your totaled car sold today!    

The Insurance Company 

Your first option is to go through the insurance company. The representative from the insurance company will scout five vehicles that are similar to yours.  

They will then ignore the highest and lowest priced vehicles. The price they will offer you is an average of the remaining three.  

The trick to getting the most for your vehicle is to make sure the vehicles the insurance company selects are true comparisons to your vehicle. 

You need to make sure they are the same year make and model. You also need to make sure that they are in the same condition and have the same mileage. 

Another problem is if your car has special limited edition features. You risk your vehicle being seriously undervalued because the insurance company picked a base model instead of the top of the line model. 

Is the Car Legitimately Totaled? 

When it comes to totaled cars there are a few competing definitions. Most people assume a car is no longer drivable when it is totaled. 

However, this isn’t always the case. Insurance companies define a car as totaled when it will cost the insurance company more to fix the vehicle than it is worth. 

As you can see, the damage to a vehicle can be vastly different to meet this threshold. So before you consider a car a loss you need to determine what the level of damage actually is. 

Salvage the Vehicle 

If you sold the vehicle to the insurance company, they will salvage the vehicle for you. But if you didn’t, you can go through the process of salvaging it yourself. 

Once the car is salvaged, you’ll have to head over to the department of motor vehicles for a new title. This new title is actually a salvage certificate.

This distinction is important. It doesn’t matter how “like new” the car’s condition is made, it will always be considered a salvaged car that was once totaled. 

Check with your DMV office to confirm the requirements for a salvage title. you need to confirm that your car qualifies. 

You most likely will need to provide a physical inspection and a VIN verification. You could have a DHSMV agent, tax collector, police officer, public notary, or licensed dealer perform these for you. 

You will then fill out an application for a salvage title. Then submit your application with payment 

Sell to a Dealership

The easiest way to sell a salvaged car is to a dealership or other company that regularly deals with these types of cars. They will give you a cash offer for your car. 

Dealers will use these cars for various purposes such as resale, parts, or sell at auction. There are some dealers that will exclusively deal in buying salvaged titles and selling them to the public. 

Sell to a Private Party 

Another option is to privately sell your salvage car to another individual. This is not the easiest or most advisable solution.

Many people are leery of salvage titles. They fear that there is something seriously wrong with the car. That it will never run right or is unsafe. While we know this isn’t true, it will be an uphill battle convincing a potential buyer that. 

There are also increased insurance costs associated with salvage titles. So even if someone is willing to buy your vehicle, the increased costs might deter them. 

Scrap Yard 

If you’ve tried all of your options and you simply can’t sell the vehicle you have on final option. You can always head to your local junkyard and scrap the vehicle. 

You won’t make as much money since you are selling the metal. But at least you are going to make something. Many junkyards will even come and tow your car away for you. 

To be able to scrap the car you will need to show proof of title and registration. You will also need to show that the vehicle has been salvaged. 

Donate It  

This method won’t make you any money per se. But you will be able to claim the donation as a tax credit. So it’s kind of like making money since you’ll still benefit from the value of the car in the donation. 

Just be sure if you go this route you have full documentation of the donation. you need to be able to prove to the IRS that you actually donated a vehicle to a legitimate charity.   

How to Sell a Totaled Car

Now that you know how to sell a totaled car you know you have options should the day ever come where you are involved in a car accident. You don’t have to accept whatever the insurance company tells you.  

This means you can salvage the title and sell the vehicle privately yourself. By doing it this way you can look to get more money than whatever the insurance company offered you.  

We can help you sell your car whether it’s totaled or not. Get your instant online offer now! 

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About the Author


Marc is the Co-Founder of Cash Auto Salvage and Director of daily operations. He retired from a leading Internet Marketing company in 2013 and has been involved in the automotive industry ever since.

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