Understand State of New York Salvage Title Laws

Used Car Salvage and Rebuilt Titles in New York

This is an example of a car with a salvage title that may not be fixable. © Crystal Venus | Dreamstime.com

New York, for some reason, has always struck me as a litigious state with lots and lots of laws on the books. That could explain why the New York Salvage Title laws for its used cars are so thorough.

A New York Salvage Title

At its most basic, a vehicle in New York can receive a salvage title when it is eight model years or newer (i.e. a 2008 model year car in 2016) and it has been "destroyed or received damage of 75 percent or more of the retail value of the vehicle at the time the damage occurred," according to New York State motor vehicle regulations.

New York also says: "A salvage vehicle is a vehicle that was transferred to an insurance company because it was stolen or because it has significant damage. The damage can occur because of a collision, theft, vandalism, or damage from water."

New York law also states that automobile dealers must inform any vehicle buyer if:

  • the vehicle was damaged before the first sale of the vehicle, or
  • the title certificate has a brand that displays "REBUILT SALVAGE:NY", or
  • the previous retail owner supplied a salvage disclosure statement as described above.

Good Advice

The following is good advice from the state, even if you are a private seller: "The dealer must confirm on the bill of sale that the buyer was notified that the vehicle was damaged. To protect yourself, ask the buyer to write their initials next to your statement on the bill of sale."

That means you have to keep a copy of any bill of sale if you ever sell a vehicle with a salvage title in New York State.

If a fraud is perpetrated and a future owner attempts to sell the vehicle as not having a salvage title, you can accurately reflect that you sold the used car as a salvage vehicle. That can't be stressed enough. Protect yourself.

Built-In Protections

One advantage to buying a rebuilt salvage title used car in New York State is it has to have a brand-new airbag installed if the previous airbag was damaged or deployed.

A used airbag can't be installed. Of course, there is nothing to prevent an unscrupulous seller from removing a new airbag once it has passed inspection. Require a bill of sale showing a new airbag was installed just to give yourself more protection.

Clean Bill of Health

New York does allow a vehicle that once had a salvage title to get a clean bill of health (or at least a title that says "Rebuilt Salvage:NY").

Follow these steps (all info from New York Department of Motor Vehicles):

  • To apply for a new title certificate only, the new owner must bring the title certificate and proof of sales tax payment or purchase price to a DMV office.
  • The DMV must examine the vehicle. If the DMV issues a title certificate, the certificate receives a brand that displays: "REBUILT SALVAGE:NY".
  • You must show a sales receipt for each of the replaced parts, or your proof of ownership for other vehicles that you used to supply replacement parts. The proofs must show the complete VIN of the vehicle. The receipts and the proofs must match the correct parts included in the rebuilt vehicle.
  • Check for stolen vehicle parts. Frequently a person buys a vehicle part and does not know that the part was stolen. NYS law requires the DMV to confiscate a vehicle part if the DMV investigator determines during the examination that the vehicle part was stolen. The DMV can impound the complete vehicle if the stolen part is a major part like the engine or the transmission.