What to Do With a Totaled Car

May 13, 2019Fixing Your Car
Madison Rogers

Born and raised in Houston Madison is a content writer who loves traveling. She has lived in different states and is always eager to share her knowledge with others.

Dealing with a crashed car is pretty tough, and getting the word from your insurance company that your vehicle is a total loss is news nobody ever wants to hear. So, now you have to figure out what to do with a totaled car. Don’t worry, there are plenty of options to choose from in this situation.

Totaled automobile.
Not everything is lost, and there are always some possibilities to get the most out of a bad situation

If you are still shaken from the accident where your machine was lost (and we can’t imagine it otherwise,) and if this was your first and we hope last accident, you probably don’t know where to begin. You will have to act quickly and to find a replacement for your four-wheeler. Keep reading and find out what your options are in this matter.

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What Makes a Car Totaled?

First and foremost, you need to know how the car is declared a total loss. Every insurance company has its own rules, but the differences between them are not that big. The total loss will be declared for every damage to the vehicle which is higher than 60% to 75% of its market value. So, unfortunately, if you had an old machine that was nearly paid off, repairing this car will probably cost you more money than its market value at that point.

Insurance companies will calculate the car’s actual cash value (or ACV,) which represents what is your car’s price at that particular moment, and not the price you paid when you bought it. On average, 20% is lost on price when you start driving and further 10% with each passing year. Another factor that goes into estimation is the price of waste, i.e., the price of car parts. So, in short, if repairs and waste price exceeds ACV, your car will be declared a total loss.

Totaled car
It doesn't matter what is a cost of repair - if it is important for you, then you should keep it

What to Do With a Totaled Car and No Insurance?

If you don’t have any insurance, you are probably breaking the law, and most states require each vehicle owner to have mandatory liability insurance. This means that, if you are involved in a car crash, your insurance will cover any damage you made to the second party, but it will not cover the damage to your machine. The only way for you to be covered is if you have a full insurance policy. Bear in mind that if you bought an auto on credit and it is still not paid off, you will have this insurance, and you will get money for any damage. But if you paid off your car and don’t have full insurance, then you will have to deal with your wrecked machine alone.

When you are on the road and an accident happens, keep calm. First thing first, you will have to call for a car shipping company and choose between open or enclosed auto transport (though most companies carry totaled vehicles only on open carriers,) and tail your vehicle out of the way, so you don’t create a traffic jam. Also, avoid road rage too, at any cost. If you don’t have your preferred auto transport company, you will need to find out the cheapest way to ship a car or ask a friend for car shipping advice.

After your automobile is removed from a road, you will have to figure out what to do with it. For starters, take it to a service to see an estimation of damage. Maybe your machine will be declared a total loss, and you will probably think “What to do with it.” and wonder will anybody think it worth to buy a car with a salvage title. But don’t worry, as ever,  there is a buyer for every commodity. Check this video for more tips on this matter.

YouTube video

Can You Keep Your Car if It’s Totaled?

Well, as we mentioned above, if your four-wheeler is fully paid off and if you don’t claim any damage compensation for it, you can do whatever you want. But, if you get some compensation from your insurance and they declare your automobile a total loss, you will get a check, and of course, you can keep your four-wheeler. But the catch is that the company will take away as much money as it would have gotten if it had sold the car to scrap.

Also, some state laws do not permit the keeping of totaled automobiles, but the ones that do will oblige you to get a salvage title, which means you will not be able to get a plate number until it is repaired. Maybe if you have a youngster who just needs to learn the best driving tips for a beginner, you can repair this machine for him, but bear in mind that even though there are a lot of companies offering car insurance for young drivers, no company will give you insurance for a totaled machine.

Do You Get Money for a Totaled Car?

This is the really tricky part. Even if you have full coverage, it doesn’t mean you will get the same amount of money you invested. And if you are wondering how much insurance pays for a totaled car, it depends. As we explained before, insurance companies will do ACV of your automobile. So, for instance, if you paid your four-wheeler $20,000 five years ago, you will now get approximately $15.000 for it. But every company offers to its customers Guaranteed Asset Protection insurance (commonly known as GAP,) precisely for this purpose – to compensate for the value difference.

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How to Keep a Totaled Car? What Can Be a Salvage and Who Will Buy My Car?

There are a couple of reasons to decide to keep a totaled car. The most common being that it is an old machine and you know you will not get much money for it from insurance. If so, a smarter option will be to keep this car. Even better, If it’s drivable, take it home. But if it’s not, hire an open carrier auto transport and tow your car to the nearest shop. They will estimate your loss and maybe do some repairs to make your car drivable again. Then, if you like to work around the cars, you can keep them and try to repair them in your spare time.

You can go to the junkyard and ask for their estimation for the parts, or just keep it in your garage and use parts to fix other vehicles. You can also go on eBay, to try to sell the parts or even the whole automobile. In fact, a lot of people are in this car repair business, so transporting cars from state to state, even in wrecked condition, is nothing unusual. After all, if you are into repairs, you know that many things can be salvaged and used for other machines. For instance, if there is no damage to your electronics like radio or speakers you should take them, as well as every piece of interior you can save. Some engines and other hard parts like tires can remain in one piece after the crash and be usable for other machines.

A man off-screen driving a car on the highway
Maybe the best option is to keep your four-wheeler in the family, so your kids could learn to drive in it

Should You Repair the Vehicle or Sell It

Like in other dilemmas regarding this matter, this also depends on the damage your automobile sustained. If it is beyond repair, you should try to sell it. But, sometimes four-wheelers have a sentimental value, and saying goodbye can be difficult, so people decide to keep them and try to repair them nonetheless. In such a case, you can do your own DIY project and make something unique. There are a lot of TV shows about cars and many are focused on how to fix one.

You can also hit Google to see how other people did vehicle makeovers and try to do that too. Just type “How to change a flat tire” or “how to disconnect a car alarm,” or “how to tell if your clutch master cylinder is bad.” You will be surprised how much good advice there is. And who knows, maybe your four-wheeler will end up in one of the best custom car shops in the USA.

Should You Donate a Vehicle or Sell

If you already received a check for your totaled automobile, and the damage is beyond repair, you can donate it. You will get a tax deduction for donating, and you will have more space in your garage or front yard. Check with your local charity foundation and see if they are willing to take a wrecked automobile – you will be surprised how many will say yes.

hand dirty of motor oil
If you are a car lover, getting your hands dirty will not be a problem

Do I Need to Notify the DMV if My Car Is Totaled?

No matter if you are driving in Los Angeles, or driving in New York, or any other state, you will have to notify your DMV that your four-wheeler is declared a total loss. So if you wish to drive your totaled machine without driving anxiety and driving stress, contact your DMV and get a salvage title. After this, you can’t drive your car until you repair it, and you can not get new plate registration. When the car is repaired, you will need to go to the local DMV office for a rebuilt title, and after that, you can go on the open road.

DMV website
Inform your DMV about your machine

How Do I Get Rid of a Totaled Car? What to Do With a Wrecked Car?

If you are on the open road and your auto is in no driving condition, you should contact the auto transport company and schedule professionals’ arrival. Before they arrive, prepare your car for shipping. Also, if you keep documentation of insurance and registration in your auto, get them out. In short, get everything that you need out of the automobile. As we mentioned above, you can choose between open and enclosed auto transport if you have some of the most expensive cars in the world then choose enclosed, since it is a safer option and you don’t want any more damage to it. Finally, make sure to tip your movers, so your four-wheeler gets the best care there is.

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