Insurance companies consider a car a total loss after a crash if the cost to fix the car is more than the cost to replace the car. Many times these cars go to the junkyard. Sometimes, depending on the damage, you can buy them cheap and repair them for your own use or even for resale. Buying a crashed car is not like buying a regular car, though. Here are 7 things you must consider before buying crashed cars.

How badly was it crashed?

There are categories for crash damage that is used to rate a car that has been in a wreck. Make sure you know these categories and apply them to the vehicle you are looking to buy. A short overview of the categories is: “A” is the worst damage. “B” is pretty bad. “C” and “D” Cars are crashed cars with workable damage. When you are looking at crashed cars, you want the cars with body damage and parts that can easily be replaced like windows and windshields. Stay away from any vehicle with frame issues.

Will You be able to get Insurance?

You will want to check with your insurance company before you buy a car that has been crashed. You may find that your insurance company will only issue limited coverage on the car if it has been wrecked or maybe they won’t insure the vehicle at all. All Insurance companies are a little bit different. Arm yourself with some knowledge before you go insurance shopping and have the answers ready should your agent ask. Find out why the car was totaled. If available get a copy of the original repair estimate and provide proof that all repairs were made.

Will you be able to get the Vehicle titled and registered?

In many states, it can be a hassle to get a title for a salvage/crashed car. In most cases at the very least, you will have to have a law enforcement official inspect the repairs and deem the vehicle safe before they will issue you a “new” title. New York State has an entire department dedicated to doing just this, the charge for the safety inspection is around 200 dollars and may take up to a month to get in for the appointment. Just because a vehicle has passed the safety inspection and been given a title in one state, doesn’t mean that another state will honor that title. If you move, you may be subject to your new state’s inspection processes. Check with your Local Department of Motor Vehicles for registration questions regarding salvage cars.

Will You be Able to Buy Your Crashed Car Outright?

Crashed cars can be a great value. You can get a lot more car for the money if you are willing to pay for repairs or better yet, put the work in yourself. But do you have the money to pay for the vehicle? Most banks will not write a loan on a crashed car. If you are going to try to finance the vehicle, start with banks you know or you have had auto loans with in the past. They will want to assess the risk level in giving you the loan. If you have a history that is one point in your favor. You will also want to take in an insurance policy showing that your insurance company is willing to cover the vehicle should there be another crash.

A Little Bit of Maths and a Lot of Common Sense.

When a car is totaled out by an insurance company, it means that the damage that the vehicle incurred in the crash would cost more than the vehicle is worth to repair. Let’s say that you are looking at a brand new truck. The sticker price of about $60,000. You find out it has a salvage title. How much damage did that truck have to sustain for the repairs to cost more than $60,000? That was a bad crash. Walk away. On the other hand. You are looking at a 1976 El Camino with 249,000 miles. A direct hit from a shopping cart in the Wal-Mart parking lot could total that out. Just use your noodle before you buy.

Have The Car Inspected Before You Buy

Taking a car to a mechanic or garage that has no affiliation with the seller for an inspection before you buy is a great Idea whether the car has been crashed or not. It will give you a little bit of peace of mind that there are no issues or give you some idea of the scope of work that will need to be done before you buy. If the seller doesn’t want to agree to allow you to do that, It might be a good idea to pass on that particular car.


At some point in time, you are going to want to get rid of your crashed car and buy a new one. My last piece of advice here is to consider the resale value. Because the car has been crashed and branded with a salvage title, you will not get top dollar when it comes to trade in or selling it outright. You may even have trouble finding a buyer at all if you are doing a for Sale By Owner.

These are 7 things you must consider before buying crashed cars. Sure, crashed cars can be a great value and a good source of transportation once they have been repaired safely and correctly. Just know what you are getting into before you buy.