The definitive guide to selling a Totaled car (for Dummies)

Lucy Bennett
By Lucy Bennett  - Contributing Editor
The definitive guide to selling a Totaled car (for Dummies)

After a violent thunderstorm, you find your car crushed under an uprooted tree. The entire roof is now in your front seats and the engine is falling out of the bottom.

Maybe instead of a tree crash on your car, you got your passenger side slammed by a truck driver pulling out of a parking spot without seeing you.

The definitive guide to selling a Totaled car (for Dummies)

Perhaps you were driving down the road and made the mistake of looking in your rearview window for too long. You didn’t notice the driver in front of you had stopped, so you ram into the car and wreck the front half of your vehicle.

You take a look at the damage to your car. Even without a quote from a mechanic or your insurance company, you know your car is totaled and there is no way you can get this amount of damage repaired without going into debt.

Fortunately, a totaled car is completely sellable. The automobile market is not only for new and gently used vehicles: there are many companies, institutions, and private buyers who will be happy to pay you for your ruined vehicle.

Before you start your search for the right buyer, it is important to become familiar with all of your selling options and collect the necessary documentation to complete a legitimate transaction. Continue reading below for the definitive guide to selling your totaled car.

What is a Totaled Car?

In layman’s terms, a totaled car is one that is deemed to have damage that exceeds the vehicle’s value. The ratio of the cost of repairs to the car’s value, however, can be ambiguous and may change depending on who evaluates the car.

Within car insurance, a totaled car has definitive values. A car that is considered a total loss is one in which repair costs are between 60 to 100% of its pre-accident value. The exact amount varies by state.

For example, if your car is worth $10,000 before the damage, and the cost of repairs is estimated to between $6,000 and $7,000, then your car could be considered a total loss by your insurance company.

Who Decides Your Car is Totaled

In many cases, your auto insurer will determine if your car is totaled. An agent will assess the damage and match it against the value of the vehicle before it was damaged. Depending on your state’s laws about what is considered a total vehicle loss, your insurer will give you the verdict.

Without insurance, you will have to decide whether your car is totaled on your own. The biggest deciding factor for many drivers is their budget. A mechanic can give you a quote for the cost of repairs and then you can decide if they are worth it.

What Do You Do with a Totaled Car?

Even if your car is totaled, that does not mean you will suffer a total financial loss. There are several ways in which you can reclaim cash.

If you are insured, an auto insurance agent should be your first call for getting financial compensation. He or she will assess the damage and determine if the car is a total loss. If the agent concludes that the car is indeed totaled, your insurer will purchase the vehicle from you at its pre-damage value.

It is important to know that not all car insurance policies will cover a totaled car. You must have either collision or comprehensive coverage, or both, as part of your policy.

Collision insurance covers you if you are involved in an accident, whether it was your fault or not. On the other hand, comprehensive insurance will help cover costs for situations that are out of your control such as weather damage or a fallen tree.

How to Sell a Totaled Car

In order to sell your vehicle for a better profit than what your insurer can give you, you can decide to purchase it back from them. You will have to let your insurance company know that you want to proceed with this option. Then, instead of taking your car and selling it an auction, your insurer will instead let you keep your vehicle but deduct the amount they thought they would have made at an auction.

Even though you get less money from your auto insurer, you can make a greater profit selling to a private party. While there are many car enthusiasts who love fixing totaled and affordable vehicles, you can also find great quotes and offers for your car online.

Upsides of Selling Your Totaled Car

Although the process of selling a vehicle, especially a non-working one, has historically been a pain, there are upsides to selling a totaled car. First and foremost, you can get rid of it. It does you no good sitting in your yard.

Second, and probably the greatest benefit, you can get a second check out of it. This money can go directly to the down payment of a new vehicle.

What Do You Need to Sell a Totaled Car?

Before selling your car, you will have to prepare certain information. First, you will need to have your vehicle’s title. However, if you bought it back from your insurer you will typically be required to have a salvage title instead. In most states, a salvage title is an official document declaring that the car was determined to be a total loss.

Additionally, you will need to get estimates for the value of your car. This will not be the market value of the car. Instead, you will need to find out how much it is worth as a totaled car. Your insurer can be one source for this information. However, you can also get estimates from online calculators and salvage yards.

What Should You Consider When Selling a Totaled Car?

Before selling your vehicle, consider several factors. For instance, what are the current values for scrap metal? This is important because you may be able to make more by selling parts at a salvage yard than trying to sell a whole vehicle to a private buyer.

Moreover, where you live, the make and model of the car and the types and amount of damage all have an effect on its value. It is important to let potential buyers know about all of the vehicle’s issues before selling.

Additionally, getting rid of a totaled car that is no longer drivable will require you to pay for towing. If you choose to sell to a scrap yard, they may provide free towing. However, if you sell to a private buyer, you might have to handle the towing costs yourself.

iLounge author Lucy Bennett
By Lucy Bennett Contributing Editor
Lucy Bennett is a Contributing Editor at iLounge. She has been writing about Apple and technology for over six years. Prior to joining iLounge, Lucy worked as a writer for several online publications.