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Auto Salvage

Salvage Car

A car or auto damaged by an accident, fire, flood, or other event, to the extent that its fair salvage value plus the cost of repairing the automobile for legal operation on public streets or highways would be more than the fair market value of the car before the accident or event. Salvage cars include automobiles determined to be a total loss.

Salvage Pool

Any businesses that acquire junk and salvage cars for the purpose of resale.

Salvage Yard

Anyone or business in the business of buying salvage cars for sale as spare parts or whole rebuilding, restoration, or crushing.

Calculating the Value of Salvaged Vehicles

Salvaged cars are usually cars that are not considered total loss. It is not easy to put a value on salvaged cars since the value of salvaged car is based on make and model of the car and how much damage it has. Insurance companies have their formulas as to how to calculate the value of a salvaged car. Some insurance companies choose to sell back a car considererd as salvaged vs. others who sell all these cars to junk yards and auto recyclers. In order to get a value for a salvaged car lookup the used car value for the exact car make model in a reliable resouce like the Kelly Blue Book and once you find the retail price take 50% of that most insurance companies appraise it as much as 80% but start with 50%. So next add the value you have to the appraised value by the insurance company and then divide it by half this will give you approximately the market value of the car. Now that you have a market value for the salvage car then multiply that by the used percentage this will give you the value for the salvage car.

Auto Salvage Resources

Car Salvage by State


How does Auto Salvage Work?

Auto salvage is basically the process of taking a vehicle that is no longer usable by the driver, and breaking it down, or recycling it, in to reusable components.  The process begins when a vehicle is damaged to the point where it is no longer worth it to repair for the driver. This could happen through a collision, flood, fire, or just from time and miles.  The owner then contacts the auto recycler who will estimate a fair price to give in exchange for the vehicle.  In many cases the car recycler will even tow the old vehicle away for free, whether it still runs or not.  They can usually pick it up at the owner’s residence, or wherever the car broke down, if that is the case.  It is a fairly straightforward process, and is usually as simple as signing the title over and receiving a payment check on the spot.

What is a fair price for salvaged cars?

Customers, auto salvagers, and insurance companies can use a fairly standard method for determining a fair price for the vehicle.  The method is as follows:

  • Look up the used car value on Kelly Blue Book or similar
  • Find the retail price for the specific make and model
  • Calculate 50% of that (to be on the conservative side)
  • Add this amount to the appraised value from the insurance company
  • Divide this number in half for the approximate market value of the vehicle

This process may seem complicated at first, but it is a good way to get an estimate before the deal goes through.  Of course it can vary based on how much damage is done and to which portions, but this will give a rough idea.

What happens to the salvaged car?

In the next step the salvagers will determine which parts of the vehicle are still usable.  Some parts are undamaged and can be resold as spare parts for other vehicles still on the road. These parts are all catalogued, usually electronically, to quickly and easily serve customers who are searching for a specific part.  Some salvage yards are considered “you wrench” where the cars are available for mechanics and customers to go out to the yard themselves and see if it has the required parts. 

What about the environment?

This process, also known as auto recycling, is very environmentally friendly.  Very few of the parts go unused. Most will never see the actual landfill.  Most of the fluids can be reused, and if not they are carefully disposed of according to regulations. It doesn’t matter if it is interior or exterior; all parts are available for reuse.  If a part is damaged beyond good use, and it is metal then it can be crushed and then sold as scrap.  The tires can even be recycled in to something useful, even if they are simply burned as fuel.  Overall, recycling cars and trucks is a very green practice. It saves resources every step of the way.

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