Salvage Brands on Titles
When an insurance company declares a vehicle a total loss, the insurance company can take the vehicle as settlement of a claim, or the vehicle may be left with the owner. In either case, you must submit the title to the SCDMV so it may receive the appropriate salvage brand.
Total Loss Claim
Once a salvage brand is added to a vehicle’s title, it can never be removed, though the type of salvage brand may change. Salvage brands become a part of that vehicle’s title history and help to establish the fair market value of a vehicle. A salvage brand that is incorrectly added or omitted will affect the value of a vehicle and may cause the vehicle to be misrepresented to a consumer who wishes to buy the vehicle after it has been declared salvage.
Know Before You Buy
While some vehicles are able to be salvaged, other vehicles may be branded with a title that says things such as "only for parts." These vehicles cannot be driven on South Carolina, or most other states, roads. Before you purchase a vehicle, research the vehicle identification number (VIN) and learn what the title says. The National Insurance Crime Bureau offers a free VIN check to the public. By entering the VIN of the vehicle you're considering buying, you may learn if the vehicle in question has been reported as stolen or branded with a certain label.
When you're considering buying a vehicle, especially one that is used, ask the seller if you may see a copy of the title, why the vehicle is for sale, and if it's ever been in a crash. Also, you may be interested in seeing service history to determine how frequently the vehicle received tune-ups. Finally, consider if the area you're purchasing the vehicle from has been impacted by natural disasters in the past. For example, vehicles that are involved in floods may be cleaned and restored allowing the potential buyer to think that the vehicle is fully functional and running as normal. In reality, however, the vehicle's internal parts may be destroyed beyond repair, and the vehicle may actually only be good for the junk yard.