Understanding State of Ohio Salvage Title Laws

Cars in a Junkyard

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Any rebuilt salvage title from Ohio has to be treated with great caution from the years 2009 to 2010. Repairs may not have been made and that could be potentially life threatening if safety repairs, as mandated by Ohio state law, were not completed.

According to a report in the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, a deputy clerk was fired after being accused of issuing sellable titles for junked autos without the required inspections and state police inspectors found numerous instances notarized title applications had blank spots, which means they were ripe for fraud.

Another flaw with salvage vehicles in Ohio is how a vehicle is determined to be salvaged. The Ohio laws are kind of murky. They merely say a vehicle is considered salvage when it's not economically feasible to repair the vehicle to its prior condition.

Legal Guidance

Lisa M. Haywood, a Pickerington, Ohio, attorney, offers good advice on Ohio law. She explains the concepts of repairable vs. total loss, which she says is 80% of a vehicle's value.

Repairable: A vehicle is repairable when the cost to fix the vehicle is less that the vehicle's value. The object of any repair is to restore your vehicle to the same condition it was immediately before the accident. To determine whether your vehicle is fixable, have it examined by at least two repair shops.
Total Loss: Your vehicle will be considered a total loss when it appears less expensive for the insurance company to replace it over repairing it. Everything is based on the vehicle's actual cash value. If the repair costs is 80% or more of your vehicle's value, the insurance company will usually consider your vehicle a total loss.

Most likely, your insurance company is going to find the lowest possible value for your car to make it easier to declare it a total loss. Ask your adjuster how the company determines the value and demonstrate any recent repairs or bodywork you may have had done recently that would increase the value. Plus, once a month, if you have a digital camera, it never hurts to snap some pictures of your used car as an informal record of its condition.

By the way, just because an insurance company considers your vehicle to be salvage, doesn't mean you can't keep your vehicle. Under Ohio law, you can but your insurance company is not going to pay you until you get the salvage title. If you decide to keep the car, you have to do the work. The insurance company does it for you when it is taking possession of your car to sell it to a scrap yard for its parts value.

Salvage Title to Rebuilt Salvage Title

Motor vehicle registrations in Ohio are administered by the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Used car owners wanting to have vehicles with salvage titles branded as "rebuilt salvage titles" must first get an inspection from the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

To schedule an appointment, you need to contact the Ohio State Highway Patrol. This link will help you find an inspection office near you.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol [get ready for the legalese] "inspects the vehicle, including establishing proof of ownership and an inspection of the motor number and vehicle identification number of the motor vehicle and of documentation or receipts for the materials used in restoration by the owner of the motor vehicle being inspected, which documentation or receipts shall be presented at the time of inspection."

A fee of $50 is charged by the state highway patrol for each inspection. So, get those repairs done right the first time.

You can't operate a vehicle on Ohio highways that has been marked salvage title, unless you are bringing it in for inspection.

Getting an Inspection

Present all required documentation for salvage inspections:

  • Ohio salvage title in the name of the person applying for title. Assigned titles and out-of-state salvage titles are not accepted.
  • Receipts for all replaced "major component parts" (listed below). This includes the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the source vehicle.
  • If receipts are from a casual sale by an individual, they must be notarized.
  • Photocopies of receipts are not acceptable.
  • The inspection officer may require receipts or documentation for any part of questionable origin (ORC, Section 4505.11).

Major Component Parts List

Proof of work on the listed parts below has to be provided before the rebuilt salvage title can be assigned.

  1. Air Bag(s)
  2. Bumper
  3. Dash
  4. Deck Lid
  5. Doors
  6. Engine
  7. Front Fenders
  8. Hatchback
  9. Hood
  10. Rear Door
  11. Rear Quarters
  12. Transmission

Receipts may also be required for any parts with a fair market value of $100 or more. Any parts presented that are questionable or missing vehicle identification numbers are subject to seizure. This is no place for short cuts or shady deals. Use only parts that are going to pass muster—otherwise you will get caught.

The certificate of title shall be in the same form as the original certificate of title and shall bear the words "Rebuilt Salvage" in black boldface letters.

For Destruction

No motor vehicle the certificate of title to which has been marked "For Destruction" and surrendered to a clerk of a court of common pleas shall be used for anything except parts and scrap metal. Never buy a vehicle with this type of title with the hopes of restoring it.