How Do You Sell a Totaled Car?

Roughly 6 million car accidents occur on American roads every year. Most of those accidents are minor enough that little to no structural damage is done to involved vehicles. Sometimes though, cars suffer extensive frame damage, which makes repairing the vehicle very expensive.

These cars are considered “totaled”.

When you have a totaled vehicle, there are a handful of things that you might want to do with them. The most common course of action that you may take is to sell your damaged car so you can buy a new one.

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Below, we discuss the process of and ways to sell a totaled car.

1. Ensure That Your Vehicle Is Totaled

Just because your car was in a bad accident doesn’t mean that it’s totaled. In order for a car to be totaled, the amount of repairs it needs has to cost more than the vehicle’s current value.

The easiest way to determine if your car is totaled is to have your insurance company assess its condition. If that’s an impossibility, getting an estimate from local mechanics and weighing repair quotes against the price that Kelly Blue Book has your car listed at is a good way to go.

2. Sell to Your Insurance Company

If your car is verified as being totaled, you can start looking into selling it. Hopefully, your vehicle has comprehensive/collision coverage through an insurance company. If it does, you’re in luck!

Assuming that your comprehensive/collision insurance limits are adequate, your insurance company will be obligated to purchase your car off of you at its full market value. After your insurance company writes you a check, they’ll pick up your totaled car and you can use your payout to buy a new vehicle.

3. Talk to the DMV

Not everybody has the luxury of being about to sell a totaled car to an insurance company since not everyone has adequate coverage. If that’s the case for you, your first step towards parting ways with your totaled vehicle will be to talk to the DMV.

The DMV issues special car titles called “salvage titles” to totaled cars that make a record of the fact that a vehicle has sustained significant structural damage. Having a salvage title attached to your car is a very important step that you need to take before selling so you’re not accused of withholding information from buyers.

4. Go to Local Dealerships

With your salvage title in place, you can start seeking potential buyers for your totaled car. The simplest way to part ways with your car, especially if your intention is to buy a new one, is to speak with car dealerships.

In the same way that dealerships allow you trade in any kind of car for credit towards a new one, most will let you trade in totaled cars for credit. Talk to multiple dealerships before trading in your car to make sure you’re getting the most credit possible.

5. Sell Your Vehicle As-Is Online

Don’t want dealership credit for your car? Looking to maximize how much cash you get for your vehicle? If so, the best way to achieve those ends is by selling directly to the public.

Put your totaled car up on Craigslist, share information about it on social media and on car buying marketplaces like AutoTrader. Remember to be clear about the fact that your car has a salvage title and describe its functionality in such a way that buyers will not be disappointed when they come to view your vehicle in person.

Also, when selling to strangers, only conduct business during the daytime in densely populated areas.

6. Part Out Your Car to Private Buyers

Depending on how well your vehicle works after your accident, maybe your car is worth more in parts than it’s worth as a complete package. Go through your car and itemize any parts are still in good condition. Then, advertise those parts as being for sale individually online.

Parting out your vehicle to private buyers can be an arduous process given the time that it might take to sell everything.

7. Seek Out Cash for Car Companies

There are companies out there that make a living off of buying salvage cars and paying sellers all-cash on the spot. As a matter of fact, these companies can come to you, make you an offer and tow your car away within 15-minutes which makes them a great option for sellers that are looking to get rid of their junk cars quickly.

The big catch when you sell a totaled car to cash for car companies is that they tend to pay much less than private buyers do since their aim is to buy your car for as little as possible and resell it to another party for a profit.

8. Talk to Metal Collectors

Scrap yards purchase good metal off of the public for projects they work on. While you won’t get top dollar for selling your car to a scrap yard, if you’re having trouble selling you car any other way, this sales method is a solid last resort.

Closing Out Our Tips on How to Sell a Totaled Car

Many people aren’t aware of the fact that they can sell a totaled car. In reality, there is a whole market for totaled vehicles, so many parties are willing to pay good money for cars carrying many degrees of damage.

We hope that our sales tips are helpful in getting you the most for your car and our team invites you to read more of the content on our blog if you’d like to browse additional car-related tips and tricks.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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