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How do you determine the value of a salvage title car?

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I've never seen this covered in the KBB or Nada Guide listings.

Obviously salvage title cars are supposed to be worth less than "clean title" cars, but how do you calculate this, or how does an insurance company calculate how much your salvage title car is worth?

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Depends a lot on how much it will cost to rebuild it. And if you are asking how much you get for your totaled car if it's considered salvage, it should be the retail book value.

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I'm asking because in the future when I want to buy a used car (salvage title) I want to know what the limit is of what I should pay.

Also in determining whether to go full coverage (for insurance), or liability only.

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First off, you need to make a distinction between salvage title and rebuilt salvage title which I assume you mean. If it has a rebuilt salvage title it means it was inspected by the state police or DMV and declared roadworthy. If it's on a salvage title, it will need to be inspected after it's rebuilt if it hasn't been already, and that could be a money pit if you don't know what you are doing. Second, many insurance companies won't give full coverage on cars with a salvage history.

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I did this recently. Bought a flood damaged car. I have a friend who does this so often he became a certified inspector. I think we saved about 40% over what we would have paid for a similar, non-salvaged used car. We've had it a little over a year. Had to replace the gas door cable, which I assume rusted.

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All depends on your local laws, they can be a pain to sell but sometimes great deals can be had .
1. Do you know what to look for in a totaled vehicle?
2. Do you care about resale?
3. Research your local laws on the subject.

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it's worth what you're willing to pay for it. if you go to sell it, don't expect people to be beating down your door to get it (so it would then be worth what others are willing to pay for it). treat it as if you're buying it just to drive it yourself, and not for its resale value

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ablang said:    I want to buy a used car (salvage title) I want to know what the limit is of what I should pay.
 

  You're buying a car, not a piece of paper. Of course you don't pay as much as a clean title car, but if you like it and it's priced reasonably, go for it.

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morecowbell said:   it's worth what you're willing to pay for it. if you go to sell it, don't expect people to be beating down your door to get it (so it would then be worth what others are willing to pay for it). treat it as if you're buying it just to drive it yourself, and not for its resale value
Yeah that's important.  By the time we get done with ours, and our kids get done with it, it will be worth $200 no matter what the title says.    

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Why it's considered salvage would play a big part in what I'd value it at. It could be a theft recovery, just stolen and retrieved and it could be fine, just it won't have a very good resale value. That only matters if you plan to sell it later and not drive it into the ground... It could be a flood or fire salvage and have major underlying electrical or mechanical issues, but let's say you were going to make it a race car and take it down to a bare shell anyway...

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Well for my car it was previously in an accident where the right front quarter panel was hit and fixed. Air bags deployed. Seller was paid by insurance. Air bags deployed but not fixed. Therefore salvage title.

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ablang said:   Well for my car it was previously in an accident where the right front quarter panel was hit and fixed. Air bags deployed. Seller was paid by insurance. Air bags deployed but not fixed. Therefore salvage title.
  No, if the airbags weren't fixed, that's a junk title.  Anyone who buys that car from you or if you get in an accident means .... death.. and a possible lawsuit.

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forbin4040 said:   
ablang said:   Well for my car it was previously in an accident where the right front quarter panel was hit and fixed. Air bags deployed. Seller was paid by insurance. Air bags deployed but not fixed. Therefore salvage title.
  No, if the airbags weren't fixed, that's a junk title.  Anyone who buys that car from you or if you get in an accident means .... death.. and a possible lawsuit.

  That's a choice the buyer would have to make, and as long as its disclosed (as if a steering wheel missing the airbag isn't obvious itself), there isn't a problem. Same choice motorcyclists who ride without helmets make. 

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forbin4040 said:   
ablang said:   Well for my car it was previously in an accident where the right front quarter panel was hit and fixed. Air bags deployed. Seller was paid by insurance. Air bags deployed but not fixed. Therefore salvage title.
  No, if the airbags weren't fixed, that's a junk title.  Anyone who buys that car from you or if you get in an accident means .... death.. and a possible lawsuit.

  Right, because prior to 1991, every single motor vehicle accident always result in a fatality.  

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Well now I know what 3 people not to buy a used car from.

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An educated consumer is my best customer.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiPGeZuviTA



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