Salvage and Junk Vehicles

A brand is a "designation" placed on a vehicle ownership document, including its electronic record, which identifies or describes an event that affects the value or safety of the vehicle. Some jurisdictions issue specific types of documents that denote an event affecting the value or safety of the vehicle. Examples are a "salvage certificate" issued for a salvage (repairable) vehicle or a "certificate of destruction" issued for a junk (non-repairable) vehicle.

A salvage vehicle is a vehicle:

  • That has sustained sudden damage, capable of being safely repaired, to the extent the vehicle:
    • is declared a total loss by an insurance company; or
    • repairs exceed 75% of the value of the vehicle immediately before the damage occurred; or
    • has damage to the body, unibody, or frame to the extent it is unsafe for operation.
  • That is obtained as a source of parts or for the purpose of scrapping or dismantling.

A junk vehicle is a vehicle: 

  • That is damaged or wrecked to the extent that it cannot be repaired for operation on a public road; or
  • That is only of value as a source of parts or scrap metal; or
  • That is flood damaged.

AAMVA has developed a Salvage and Junk Vehicle Best Practice that includes recommendations for jurisdictions on branding and handling salvage, rebuilt salvage, junk, and flood-damaged vehicles.

An abandoned vehicle is an unclaimed vehicle on private or public property. The processing of vehicle titles for abandoned and mechanic’s lien vehicles by motor vehicle agencies (MVAs) is an important responsibility, but unfortunately it can be taken advantage of by individuals seeking to obtain financial benefits by deception. These vehicles can be nuisances to communities and consume considerable resources by those seeking to dispose of them. They may also contain undisclosed prior damage which places future purchasers at increased risk for their safety when operating these vehicles. It’s important for jurisdictions to have processes and procedures in place that allow these vehicles to be disposed of in an efficient manner but that also deter fraudulent activity.

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