Car with flood title


The caller the weekend of 3/23-24 asked whether to buy a car with a flood salvage title from her mechanic brother. He wanted $4K for the car, and she said the book on the car was $3900.

Tom & Ray told her to negotiate hard on the price. I couldn’t agree more. DON’T pay book for ANY car with a salvage title. The value of a car with a salvage title is generally MUCH lower than for a normally titled car (that may, admittedly, be in worse shape than the salvaged car).

Salvage titles are issued after vehicles are declared a total loss by insurance companies. Rebuilders often pick them up for a song, do either minimal or extensive repairs (depending on the honesty of the individual) and resell them. Law requires that a buyer be notified if a vehicle has a “salvage” title.

However, certain states do not issue salvage titles, so cars with salvage titles are often retitled in those states to “wash” the damning “salvage” designation from the title.

I’ve heard vehicles are generally worth about half of a non-salvaged vehicle. What does everyone else think?


It depends of whether the car is rare/valuable enough to be worth saving. If it’s just some common car, why mess around with salvage title cars, just buy a good one.


I sat ‘run, don’t walk, away from this’. A flood damaged car may be repaired and look good, but that flood damage will show up in electrical gremlins not far down the road, and be a constant headache. They would have to pay me to take a flood-damaged car.


Ditto. Personally, I wouldn’t even THINK of buying a salvage vehicle, regardless of its claims.


Flood- salt water does an outstanding job of ruining a car. Fresh water not as bad but so many variables as how deep the water got was the engine an trans pickeled and flushed. Was mold remediation done. Was the computer wet… These are just some of the long list of why Flood ocars are totaled by insurance companies. An the nsold for 25% of value to salvage companies.0 Been a claims adjuster 20+years would not buy a totaled flood vbechicle unless i had it checked by a good mechanic and got it for 50% of the book price. Good luck if you do otherwise.


AS long as the water was “fresh” and not salty, and truly didn’t get above the carpet, this car should not be a problem. Good carpet sets can be bought fairly cheap, especially at salvage yards. I gave $200 for an entire '00 Mitsu Galant interior a couple of years ago. Someone had PAINTED the original one, God knows why. I’m guessing irate girlfriend. I would NOT pay “book” price for it, although in my experience 10-20% under the book for a car with a salvage title has been the norm.

As far as I know, there are no longer ANY states that do not issue salvage titles for “totalled” cars. It’s been a federal law for several years. If you know of one that breaks that law, please let us know.

Also note that is takes VERY LITTLE damage to “total” a car that’s over seven years old. I’ll drive a rebuilt '99 Taurus 400 miles today, and another 400 tomorrow. All it needed was a fender, headlight and hood. I bought white ones. Didn’t even have to repaint.


“It’s been a federal law for several years”

Huh? Can you give the reference? Vehicle titles laws are state laws and not under federal jurisdiction. There are warranty laws (Moss), and federal fraud laws, but no title laws that I am aware of.


Actually, there is legislation currently in the House to create a national automobile title system with every state having standardized protocols and entering onto a national database. There are guesstimated (nobody really knows) tens of thousands of cars damaged by Hurricane Katrina whose titles have been “washed” by being moved and/or sold and retitled in states that do not require the title to identify the car as “salvaged”. The legislation is not yet law. Nor is the system currently in place. But it may be coming.


I have owned 2 cars with “salvage titles”. I would only pay half of what this site would value the car at:

You will have to decide what kind of condition it is in. This is the guide book that all the banks or credit unions that I’ve every used to value a car by.

Might also let you know that some banks or credit unions won’t loan on a salvage titled car. You may want to check if you are going to finance this car.