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Retitling a salvage is not a walk in the park

You know trouble is ahead when you see zip ties behind the grille during the inspection of a car that you are thinking of buying. Several months ago, I found a 1998 Toyota Tacoma regular-cab four-wheel-drive with a four-cylinder and five-speed stick. Not exotic, not collectible, but compact in the way trucks aren’t compact anymore, and ridiculously useful. There was other evidence of crash damage, but the repairs were good, the frame welds all looked factory, and the price was skinny enough. So I handed the guy a stack of hundreds and drove off, trying to ignore the faint waft of antifreeze coming from the vents.


At the DMV, they informed me that the truck’s apparently clean title was in fact earmarked in the computer as “bound over for salvage.” Meaning that an insurance company had totaled out the truck but the state had yet to reissue a new salvage title. Gah!


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Another thing to note is insurance. Some insurance carriers won’t insure salvaged vehicles. If they do,then typically the vehicle is valued at about twenty five percent of fair market value. One good reason not to dump a bunch of money into a salvage vehicle;classic or otherwise.