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Can You Drive a Car With a Salvage Title in Texas?

Most people go ahead and discard their vehicles if they end up with a Texas salvage title. However, it is not uncommon for individuals to want to hold on to a vehicle in this situation, but can they drive it on Texas roadways? Here, we want to discuss what it means for a vehicle to be “salvaged,” as well as whether or not a salvage vehicle can be driven legally. If you are uncertain what to do in the aftermath of a collision, our car accident lawyer in Houston can help.

What is a Salvage Title in Texas?

According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, a salvage vehicle is a vehicle that was damaged to the extent that the cost of repairing the vehicle (including materials and labor) was more than the vehicle was worth before the damage occurred. Insurance carriers usually make a determination of whether or not a vehicle should be salvaged or not.

There are different categories of salvage titles in Texas:

  • Fire damage – This is for vehicles damaged by fire.
  • Owner retained – The owner elected to keep the vehicle despite it being declared salvage.
  • Damage or not specified – This designation gets issued to vehicles that have sustained damage as well as vehicles the insurance carrier takes ownership of during damage settlements.
  • Reason other than damage –  This typically refers to an abandoned vehicle that was towed by law enforcement officials and not reclaimed by an owner.
  • Stolen – If a stolen vehicle is not recovered in a specific time frame, it will be issued a salvage title regardless of the type of condition it is found in.

Texas Laws Regarding Salvage Title Vehicles

Before making a decision on what you would like to do with your salvaged vehicle, it’s important to keep the following state laws in mind:

  • All salvage title vehicles must be issued a salvage title certificate. This is done so that potential buyers of a vehicle are aware that it is either currently salvaged or was rebuilt according to state safety standards.
  • In order to legally dismantle, refurbish, or sell a sizable number of salvage title vehicles in Texas, a vendor must have a valid salvage vehicle dealer license. Texas law specifically defines a “salvage dealer” as someone engaged in the business of buying, selling, repairing, or rebuilding salvage or nonrepairable vehicles. Anyone that purchases, sells, or repairs more than five salvage or nonrepairable vehicles in a year must legally acquire a salvage dealer or used car dealer (GDN) license.

Rebuilding a Salvage Vehicle in the State of Texas

You cannot legally drive a salvage title car on Texas roadways. However, just because a vehicle has been salvaged by an insurance carrier does not necessarily mean it will not be driven again. However, there will certainly need to be an extensive amount of work completed on a vehicle in order to obtain a new certificate from the Texas Department of public safety, which is a “REBUILT SALVAGE – DAMAGED” certificate. This type of certificate allows new potential owners to see that even though the vehicle was once considered to be unsafe for Texas roadways, it has now been deemed safe by the DPS.

A car must be built back up to standards that are legal in order to obtain the new certificate, but there is absolutely no way that a person can ever claim the vehicle was not salvaged, at least not legally.

Once a vehicle has received a new salvaged certificate from the DPS, it can be reregistered in the state of Texas and driven on the roadways legally.

What is a Junked Vehicle?

There is a completely different title of “junked” that can be applied to vehicles that sustain more damage than salvaged vehicles. Any vehicle that is considered junked has been viewed by the eyes of mechanics and the DPS as being damaged or destroyed enough that it is not possible for it to be brought back to a usable condition.

A junked vehicle will come with a “Non-Repairable Vehicle Title” issued by the DPS, which means it can never be rebuilt, retitled, or reregistered.

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