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In California, how much does it cost to register a salvage title car?


From the list of fees we have seen in California, the registration fee all by itself is only around $30 - $35 for a vehicle with a clean title or a vehicle with a branded title such as a salvage title.

In CA they define motor vehicles with salvaged titles as vehicles marked with a "salvaged" brand because they were involved in an accident or incurred considerable damage from another source, such as a flood or vandalism. This brand includes previously dismantled (junked) vehicles.

To register a vehicle with a salvage title you will need several documents including:

  1. Application for Title or Registration (REG 343)
  2. California Certificate of Title or Salvage Certificate or Application for Duplicate
  3. Verification of Vehicle (REG 343) or CHP Inspection Certificate
  4. Brake and Light Adjustment Certificates
  5. Appropriate Fees

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) notes that depending upon the type of motor vehicle that has the salvage title you also need:

  • Smog Certification
  • Weight Certificate
  • Vehicle/Vessel Transfer and Reassignment Form (REG 262)
  • Statement of Facts (REG 256)
  • Declaration of Gross Vehicle/Combined Gross Vehicle Weight (REG 4008)
  • Permanent Trailer Identification (PTI) Application/Certification (REG 4017)
  • To Surrender Existing Plates

If your vehicle was totaled out by your car insurance company and you bought it back then it would be considered a revived salvage title. A revived salvage vehicle is defined by the CA DMV as one that was reported to them by the owner or automobile insurance company as a total loss and now has been restored to operational condition.

To register a revived salvage vehicle the CA DMV says you will need:

  • Application for title or registration signed by all listed owners.
  • Proof of vehicle ownership. Can provide proof with an application for duplicate title, certificate of title or salvage certificate in your name or endorsed for you to transfer into your name.
  • Vehicle inspection must be performed on the vehicle by the CA DMV or if required for your specific vehicle by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) before the CA DMV. There is a nonrefundable inspection fee due at the time of your registration application.
  • Brake and light inspection certificate. This inspection certificate is required for re-registration of more vehicles. If you need it for your specific vehicle you will need to check with the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) website to find a CA state-licensed brake and light inspection station in your area.
  • Weight certificate is required for certain trucks and pickups. The CA DMV says this type of certificate can be obtained through many moving and storage companies if you pay them a small fee.
  • Smog certification is due for most vehicles with a few exceptions for hybrids, motorcycles, electric vehicles and so on. The DMV can tell you if the smog certificate is due for your particular vehicle.

Then there are the fees that are due. While the registration fee itself may be only $30 - $35 there are bunch of other fees due when registering a salvage car. Below is a list of some of the main fees that may be required to register the salvage title vehicle. We put in parentheses the current fee amount if we could find it. Fees that may be due include:

  1. Registration Fee (around $35)
  2. California Highway Patrol Fee (around $30)
  3. Vehicle License Fee (also called VLF and based on the value of the vehicle)
  4. Weight Fee
  5. Commercial Vehicle Registration Act (CVRA) Motor Vehicle Fee
  6. County Fees (vary by county)
  7. Cargo Theft Interdiction Program (CTIP) Fee ($3)
  8. Permanent Trailer Identification (PTI) Fee (most trailers) ($7 to $20)
  9. Salvage Certificate Fee ($18)
  10. Duplicate Title fee ($18)
  11. Substitute Plate fee

Then there are services fees as well that may be due these include:

  1. Salvage and Dismantled Vehicle Inspection Fee ($50)
  2. Prior History Fee ($2)
  3. Non-Resident Fee ($18 - if the vehicle was last registered out of state)

Finally a transfer or use tax may be due. This fee is not due if the vehicle was purchased from a licensed dismantler or was already titled in your name previously.

To get more information about the registration process on a salvage titled vehicle contact the CA DMV directly. Their website has a lot of helpful information for those looking to register a clean or branded title vehicle in California. You can also call the DMV directly for registration information toll free at 1-800-777-0133 to get a more exact amount on the total amount of fees that will be due to register your salvage title vehicle.

It is not as easy to get a salvage titled vehicle insured as a vehicle with a clean title; however in California both Progressive and Mercury offer not only Liability but full coverage to salvaged title vehicles.

To get started on your search for low cost car insurance on a salvage title vehicle, let CarInsurance.com help you out. We offer multiple company insurance rates for personal auto insurance and the ability to purchase from one place; we are ahead of other online insurance companies. Start your free auto insurance quote here to see how companies compete for your business so that you can obtain affordable auto insurance.


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