This post originally appeared on NateTheDBA; I have moved it here because it’s off-topic for that blog, and much better suited for this one. Enjoy!
In a previous (and very long-winded) post, I talked about my experience with wrecking a couple cars.
I don’t recommend it.
But, I did promise a follow-up, in which I provide excruciating detail on how we “retain a salvage vehicle” for further use. Or, in layman’s terms, “Dude, I wanna keep my car!“.
Let’s go to the DMV!
Said no one, ever.
A review of the steps and the corresponding DMV forms.
- Make sure you have your title, aka “pink slip”.
- Get your brake & light inspections done at a certified auto shop — use a site like brakeandlightinspectionlocation or dmv.com to find one.
- Wait for the insurance co. to send your copy of REG 481, “Salvage Vehicle Notice of Retention by Owner”. They submit this to the DMV for you as well — but it helps to have a copy on-hand when you go in.
- Get form REG 343, “Application for Title or Registration”. Fill out sections 1, 2, 4, and 9 (at least; others if applicable).
- Get form REG 488c, “Application for Salvage Certificate or Nonrepairable Vehicle Certificate”. Fill out section 1 with your info (applicant) & your insurance co’s info.’
- Make the DMV appointment. Bring all of the above. The receptionist will be impressed that you’ve made it this far. =)
Technically, the only things you actually need are the title & inspection certs. The DMV receptionist can give you all the rest, assuming they’ve gotten the insurance notice (481) on file. As I said, it doesn’t hurt to bring a copy. The receptionist can also help you if you’re unsure of what sections to fill on the forms.
- The receptionist will give you REG 156 for your license plate exchange. You can just fill this out while you wait for the vehicle inspection, or to be seen by the next agent.
- They’ll do the vehicle inspection, and the inspector will fill out REG 31.
- With all these papers in hand, you’re finally ready to perform the transaction! You’ll pay the salvage title fee and the inspection fee, exchange your plates for new ones, and get a new registration card & stickers.
- Congratulations, you now own your P.O.S. / clunker / beater / whatever term of endearment you choose to call your beat-up-yet-still-running car!
Here are some fun sample pictures of the paperwork.
As it turned out, some of the forms that I’d filled out ahead of time were completely unnecessary, while others were redundant or replaced. The thing that took the longest was waiting for the DMV to be notified that the vehicle was a salvage; apparently they’re a bit backlogged.
Here’s another little bit-o’-fun. The front license plate on the Honda (remember, I said part of the process is giving the plates over to the DMV in exchange for new ones?) was a biatch to remove without proper tools. I borrowed a standard pair of pliers from the nice young man behind the desk and struggled out there with the hex-nuts for nearly 15 minutes before he came out and said “Dude, don’t worry about it, we’ll call it destroyed”. FYI, the proper tool is a socket set with both SAE & metric, somewhere between 3/8 inch and 11mm. Apparently whoever installed this plate couldn’t decide between the two measurements systems so he/she used some of each.
Keeping your salvage vehicle does cost a bit, and is a small hassle. But in the end, it can be worth the trouble, IF:
- You are able to get it repaired for a small portion of the total-loss offer (what your insurance pays you)
- You don’t care about how it looks (because that’s usually what makes the repair job much cheaper — not caring about the body work!)
- You don’t ever plan on selling it again (because that’s what the DMV make sure of when they register it as a salvage)
Thanks for reading, and drive safe!