Can I sell the salvaged car I've been driving for 3 years?

My car was totaled back in January 2010, I chose to retain it and have been driving it for the last three years with no significant problems. Now I want to get rid of it and am wondering if I can sell it (for example, on CL)?

The accident that totalled the car never made it undrivable - it took out the tail light and created some body damage - which on a late 90’s Nissan Sentra is enough to merit totalling the car. I’ve had some repairs as well as routine maintanence done on it and it runs as well as can be expected at 15 years old and 150k miles.

Here’s the tricky part: I’ve since moved to a different state and have registered it here. It passed inspection and there’s no indication of salvage on the new title. (I can’t reference the old title because I had to surrender it.)

Can I sell this to a private party? I would feel morally obligated to tell the buyer about the car’s history, but legally what do I have to do? Is it reasonable to expect that anyone would want to buy it for much more than salvage value (which is around $300)?

Any insight on this is much appreciated! Thanks.

The worth of anything is the agreed upon value between a willing seller and a willing buyer, in other words you can sell it for whatever the market will bear. If you plan on disclosing the accident, you should do that before the buyer makes an offer, that way they are a willing and informed buyer.

Run a CarFax report on your car. It likely will reveal the salvage title that was issued in another state. This means you should reveal the status of the previous title since it would be easily discovered and you don’t want someone coming back to you crying “foul”.

If you have some pictures and document showing the damage that can support that the damage wasn’t so much as to bend the frame etc. The fact you’ve been driving the car for several years indicates the car works, can be registered, inspected, and is safe and legal to drive in your current state.

I don’t think the salvage value and market value (non salvage title) of the car at this age is much different. I’d set the asking price the car at similar prices to currently available cars of similar age, and miles. Sell the car honestly and see what price it brings. What would a 15 year old Sentra with 150K+ miles be worth? If you expect $5000 forget it. You are in the $1000 to 1,500 range for one in nice shape.

You have the new title, what does it say on the title? If it is a salvage title it will be stamped in red on it. Kinda hard to miss. What you have done is washed the title by moving it to another state. I don’t understand why you had to surrender the title in the first place if the car did not need to be reconstructed. I totaled a car and bought it back and never had to do anything with the title. It was just an insurance transaction. I did have to have the agent inspect it again when the work was done.

If you are honest with the buyer, there is no harm done. Just tell them that it was in an accident and you chose to fix it yourself because the cost for someone else to do it exceeded the value of the car. You won’t likely sell it for as much as a pristine Sentra, but even a cherry 1997 XE with auto is worth about $1500. If you can get trade-in value (about $1000) you should be happy.

Or you could sell it to a dealer. You are under no obligation to disclose anything to a dealer. They are experts, and don’t need help figuring things out. If they ask whether it has been in an accident, don’t lie. But you don’t have to volunteer information.

Advertise it for sale on Craigslist, with plenty of pictures of the body damage

State IN PLAIN ENGLISH that it had a salvage title in another state

Also state IN PLAIN ENGLISH that it currently has a clean title in your state

Price it a few bucks below similar clean title cars with no body damage

Accept cold hard green USA cash only.

That means no cashier’s checks, no IOUs, no personal checks, etc.

Honesty will work; people will buy a $500- $700 car as a cheap means of transportation but in today’s lawsuit-happy environment protect yourself by making it clear upfront.

I would first check the laws in your state regarding selling a salvage car. Some states are very strict, others are more lenient. Have the buyer sign an agreement that covers you from potential law suits at a later date. Some suggested language to put in the agreement may include the following:

The above-described vehicle is sold “AS IS” and “WITH ALL FAULTS”. Buyer hereby acknowledges, and Seller hereby expressly disclaims any and all warranties, either expressed or implied, including any implied warranties of merchantability, and neither assumes nor authorizes any other person to assume for it any liability in connection with the sale of this vehicle. Seller does not warrantee the vehicle’s condition, mileage, suitability or fitness for a particular purpose.

Buyer accepts full liability for the vehicle, damages, and any third party liability incurred from the vehicle use from the date of sale. Buyer takes ownership of the vehicle and assumes all responsibility for its transport at the time full payment is made to Seller.

Any representations or statements that may have been made regarding the automobile have no bearing on the sale unless specifically included in writing in this Agreement.

There may be other language you may want to include as well.