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How to Register a Salvage Title Vehicle in Missouri

by Scott Krohn

A registered salvage vehicle in Missouri will have first been designated as unsafe to drive on public roads after being declared a total loss by the insurance company on record. The decision to declare it a total loss will be based on damage that is deemed too costly to repair compared to the vehicle’s current value. This results in the cancellation of the vehicle's registration and the title being replaced by a salvage certificate. A car with a salvage title can only be registered again after it has been rebuilt, passes a state examination and has the required documentation submitted to state authorities.

Designation as a Salvage Vehicle

Companies that insure vehicles in Missouri can designate a car as a total loss and change its title designation to “salvage” when the cost of repairing damages exceeds 80 percent of the fair market value of the vehicle prior to the event. These vehicles are usually sold at auction to buyers that will either dismantle the car for parts or rebuild it with the goal of getting it back on the road again. If the car is rebuilt and meets all state requirements, the salvage designation will remain on the title, but will be modified to “Prior Salvage” to indicate that the vehicle is legal to drive again.

Required Repairs

When an insurance company declares a vehicle a total loss, the decision will be based on the extent of the repairs needed to make the vehicle operational and safe to drive. These repairs will be listed on the insurance company’s original damage estimate, and will be required to pass the state’s salvage inspection. Damage to components that aren’t directly related to driving safety, such as the radio or upholstery, is not required to be repaired prior to the state inspection. During the repair process, the owner should maintain a file that contains the original damage estimate, a record of repairs and the bills of sale for all parts used in the rebuilding of the car.

Passing the State Inspection

The Missouri inspection on salvage vehicles has two primary objectives: making sure the damage listed in the insurance company’s original estimate has been repaired, and certifying that no stolen parts were used in the rebuilding process. Providing the insurance company’s estimate, along with complete documentation of repairs, will help the inspector confirm that the rebuilding of the vehicle satisfies state requirements. Presenting the bills of sale for parts used in the rebuilding phase can provide assurance that all components were purchased through legitimate channels. Upon passing the inspection, an approved “Vehicle Examination Certificate” will be provided to the owner of the vehicle.

Registering a Salvage Vehicle

After passing the state inspection, the owner will be required to submit documentation to the Motor Vehicle Bureau of the Missouri Department of Revenue. The required documentation includes the Salvage Certificate of Title, the bill of sale representing the purchase of the vehicle, and the “Application for Missouri Title and License." The state will also require the submission of the approved “Vehicle Examination Certificate” and bills of sale for all parts used in the rebuilding process. Filing fees and any unpaid state and local taxes on the purchase of the vehicle must be satisfied. Upon the completion of the titling requirements, the salvage title will be upgraded to a “Prior Salvage Certificate of Title." The car can then be registered with the state and deemed as legal to drive again.

About the Author

After working for 21 years as a licensed adviser specializing in corporate and private finance, Scott Krohn began his writing career in 2008 covering a variety of topics including business, personal finance, health, and IT. He graduated from Cal State University, Long Beach with Bachelor of Arts degree.

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