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Revived Salvaged Or Junked Vehicle

salvage vehicle

Welcome to Quick Auto Tags, your trusted partner for streamlining the registration of salvage vehicles in California. If you’ve recently acquired a salvaged or junked vehicle and need assistance with the registration process, look no further. We are a licensed tag and title agency authorized by the California DMV, specializing in re-titling salvaged and junked vehicles. Our experts will guide you through the process efficiently, ensuring your vehicle meets all legal requirements. Let us help you get your salvage vehicle back on the road with ease.

What is a salvaged vehicle?

A salvaged vehicle, commonly referred to as a salvage or salvage-titled vehicle, is a vehicle that has been significantly damaged or deemed a total loss by an insurance company or other authority due to accidents, floods, fires, theft recovery, or other incidents. These vehicles are typically declared salvage when the cost of repairs exceeds a certain percentage of their market value or when they are considered unsafe to drive on the road.


Once a vehicle is declared salvage, it is often sold at auction to individuals, salvage yards, or auto repair shops. These buyers may then attempt to repair and restore the vehicle to a roadworthy condition.

What is a junked vehicle?

A junked vehicle is a term used to describe a vehicle that is no longer operational or considered too damaged and beyond repair to be restored or returned to a roadworthy condition. These vehicles are typically referred to as “junk cars” or “junkers.” Junked vehicles may have suffered extensive damage from accidents, wear and tear, or simply have reached the end of their useful life.

What is the difference between a salvaged and junked car?

Salvaged vehicle:

  • Suffered significant damage but can potentially be repaired and made roadworthy
  • Typically has a salvage title or a rebuilt/reconstructed title after repairs
  • May have reduced market value due to its history of damage
  • Must pass safety and emissions inspections to be road-legal again
  • Can be restored and driven on the road after repairs

Junked vehicle:

  • Beyond repair or restoration, usually non-operational
  • Often lacks a valid title, may be sold for parts or scrap
  • Often has no resale value as a whole, valued for scrap or parts
  • Usually not roadworthy, no legal requirements for operation
  • Primarily used for part salvage or recycling purposes

What are the similiarties between a salvaged and junked vehicle?

Salvaged and junked vehicles share similar inspection requirements when it comes to getting them back on the road, including VIN verification and brake and lamp inspections. Sometimes, both may need a smog check and a weight-master certificate. You can tell them apart by the documents they come with: salvaged vehicles have a “salvage certificate” with a red border and yellow background, while junked vehicles come with a junk slip and are often sold with a bill of sale that has an acquisition number.


If you’re in the market for a used car, it’s good to know salvage or junk vehicles are an option. A salvage car might seem like a risky investment, but it can work out really well if you do your research.  If you purchased a vehicle that was recently salvaged out by an insurance company or was a junked car the following is a good read on everything you need to know before buying it. The information in this article is also for people who own a car that has been recently salvaged out. 

An owner or insurance company can salvage out a vehicle. The process to do this happens prior to everything we will discuss below. If you would like know to why insurance companies salvage out vehicles or how a registered owner can salvage out their vehicle, click on the following link. 


Which Vehicles or Trailers Can i Revive the Salvage title only?

  • Permanent Trailer Identification PTI
  • Large Commercial Vehicle
  • Coach trailer
  • Regular automobiles
  • Motorcycles

What Do i need to do to register my salvaged or junked vehicle?

Getting your salvage vehicle on the road requires some very specific steps, and you must follow a particular order. Follow these steps accordingly and you’ll save time, and in some instances, save money:

  1. Pay the necessary fees with the DMV: First and foremost, your vehicle is technically not supposed to be on the road – it is a salvaged vehicle. The insurance company has deemed this vehicle “not suitable” for the streets. So the first step is to take your application to the DMV and pay the fees, in particular, there is one specific fee that they want you to pay, and it is called the “inspection fee” – it is a $50 fee that must be paid or you will NOT be able to do your VIN verification. It is a non refundable inspection fee.
  2. After you have paid your fees: Request a permit so that you can operate the vehicle to get your other inspections done. This permit can be a one day permit OR it can be a temporary operating permit (usually 30 – 60 days). Note that to obtain a TOP you must have your brake & lamp inspection done first, so usually you’ll be able to get the one day permit only at this stage.
  3. Inspections: With your permit in hand, you can now operate this vehicle so that you can take it to your next inspection:
    1. brake & lamp inspection. Brake & lamp inspections are done by mechanics that have been licensed by BAR. This inspection is done to ensure that the headlamps are working and that the brake lights are working as well. If any of these items are not in order, you will not pass until you get it fixed. Some locations will charge you regardless if you pass the inspection or not – so if you have any aftermarket lights or broken lamps, please fix it before you go.
      1. Large commercial motor vehicles must go to a special light inspection station. These are specially licensed mechanics that require a little bit more work to locate.
certificate of compliance - lamp adjustment
brake and lamp inspection
certificate of compliance - brake adjustment
    1. The next inspection to go do is the VIN verification: When a vehicle is salvaged or junked ONLY the DMV or CHP can perform the VIN verification. Do NOT attempt to get a VIN verification done by a private VIN verifier because that vin verification that they will provided you will not be accepted by the DMV. Furthermore, there vehicles that only the CHP can perform VIN verification on – usually the reasons are because of the year or the value of the vehicle. There are certain vehicles that are on the CHP and DMV’s “hit list” – basically, they have a specific list of year make and models that will automatically be referred to the CHP. Be ready for this.
    2. Smog certification (if necessary). Now, there are some cases where you will not need a smog certification, but you will know very early in in the process whether or not you’ll need one.
california dmv smog check quick auto tags

What forms Will I need to Register my Salvage or Junked Vehicle?

  • Reg 343
  • Salvage certificate for salvage vehicles or
  • For a junk car, Vehicle vessel transfer form with acquisition number on the top right
  • Vessel transfer and reassignment form with the acquisition number at the top right ( picture below )
vehicle vessel transfer and reassignment form - california dmv
  • If necessary, the vessel transfer and reassignment form
  • Brake and lamp light adjustment certificates
  • VIN verification or in some cases the CHP certificate of inspection
  • In some cases, a smog
  • Declaration of gross vehicle weight form (4008 form) stating the combined gross vehicle weight of the gross vehicle weight.

Buying a Late Model Car from a Repair Shop

It is not uncommon for a consumer to buy a vehicle directly from a Repair shop. In fact, from an economics standpoint it is actually smart that a repair shop would sell a vehicle that they purchased from an salvage auction, repair it, and then resell it to a consumer. There is cost savings both on the consumer end and on the repair shop end. However, many times a repair shop will take shortcuts in the process of reviving a salvaged or junked vehicle, and the customer (you) ends up having to deal with the burden of obtaining the necessary paperwork to get this done. When it comes to salvaged or junked vehicles it is not just the job of the repair shop to be restored to operational condition, but they also have to provide receipts of all repairs and parts. Here’s a list of things the repair shop should provide you after the sell of the vehicle:

  1. Receipts for all parts used in the repair and reconditioning of the vehicle must be available.
  2. Particularly for airbags: all airbags must have a serial number. The preference is that the vehicle have OEM part for the airbag.
  3. The brake and light adjustment should be done for you already.
  4. Ideally, the repair shop should also have the VIN verification for you.

California Highway Patrol VIN verification

When it comes to salvage or junked vehicles in many cases the CHP will be involved. Only an authorized DMV employee or CHP officer can perform VIN verifications on salvage or junked vehicles. That means that AAA & private VIN verifiers cannot perform these VIN verifications. For the salvaged car that has to go to the CHP, most of the time any local CHP office will perform the VIN verification, however, for some that own a specific vehicle you must go through a special unit of the CHP for the vehicle verification. The CHP and the DMV has a specific list of vehicles that are to be routed to a special unit in the DMV. Any time that you go to the CHP you must always have your paperwork in order, and your vehicle must be assembled completely. In other words, BE PREPARED. But let’s specifically talk about the special office located in San Bernardino – California Highway Patrol – Inland Division Investigative Services Unit. These are highly trained and very knowledgeable arm of CHP that is tasked to detect any attempt of fraud. Here is a more detailed write-up from our sister company QVV California HIghway patrol CHP VIN verifications

california highway patrol vin verification salvage vehicle

What else Do you need to know about reviving a salvaged or junked vehicle?

  1. The permit you obtain from the DMV to operate the vehicle temporarily does NOT preclude you from having insurance – please always insure your vehicle when you’re operating it out the roads – it’s the law.
  2. There is no removing the branding of a vehicle as salvage. This information does not only get stored in the DMV database but also in a national database called the NMVTIS (National Motor Vehicle Title Information System).
  3. Car insurance on a salvage vehicle can be hard to obtain – there are a lot of insurance carriers who do NOT want to insure a salvage vehicle. In addition, the amount of money you get for a payout from the insurance carrier is a lot less than a clean titled vehicle.
  4. The accident history will be reported on a vehicle history report such as Carfax. This is relevant to people who want to trade their vehicle into the car dealerships

Can I revive a car with a Nonrepairable vehicle certificate?

Also known as non repairable vehicle, or non-revivable, these vehicles cannot be revived – if your intention is to be able to operate this vehicle – do not move forward. Out of state vehicles with “non-repairable” brands are gray areas, so before you buy, you should consult the DMV.

What happens When it is all done?

After you’ve paid your fees, done your inspections, and brought in all the necessary paperwork to the California DMV you will get the following:

  • You’ll get a new set of license plates, stickers, and registration, the registration will also show the “salvaged” branding on it as well.
  • You’ll get a brand new certificate of title, it will now be a branded title.
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Quick Auto Tags

Quick Auto Tags 5586 Mission Blvd Ste B Riverside, CA 92509
Tel: (951)409-9091