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.
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
Due to a change in state law on September 15, 2021, some previously used title brands will become nonexistent and new brands may be used in their place. The new title brands denote a vehicle’s condition more accurately and more transparently informs consumers of the vehicle’s history. The Application for Salvage/Branded Certificate of Title (Form 400-S) has been updated to reflect these title brand changes.
|Previous Brands||New Brands|
|Salvage Water||Salvage Flood|
|Salvage Fire||Salvage Fire|
|Salvage Rebuilt||Salvage Rebuilt|
|No Previous Brand||Salvage Flood Rebuilt|
|No Previous Brand||Salvage Fire Rebuilt|
|Lemon Law||Lemon Law|
Title Brand Definitions
A salvage brand is used when a vehicle is declared a total loss by an insurance company, has repairs that exceed 75 percent of the value of the vehicle before the damage occurred, or has damage to the body, unibody, or frame to the extent that it is unsafe to operate. If requirements are met, this brand may be changed to Salvage Rebuilt.
A vehicle that has a salvage title is transferred to a new owner who has repaired the vehicle, completed the proper documents and had the vehicle inspected by an authorized agent of the DMV before titling in his/her name.
A vehicle is declared salvage due to damage caused by water. This brand should never be removed and stays with the vehicle throughout the history of the vehicle unless the person rebuilds the vehicle and is issued a salvage flood rebuilt.
Salvage Flood Rebuilt
A vehicle with a salvage flood title is transferred to a new owner who has repaired the vehicle, completed the proper documents and had the vehicle inspected by an authorized agent of the DMV before titling in their name. This brand is added to the title in addition to the salvage flood brand.
A vehicle is declared salvage due to damage caused by fire. This brand should never be removed and stays with the vehicle throughout the history of the vehicle unless the person rebuilds the vehicle and is issued a salvage fire rebuilt.
Salvage Fire Rebuilt
A vehicle that has a salvage fire title is transferred to a new owner who has repaired the vehicle, completed the proper documents and had the vehicle inspected by an authorized agent of the DMV before titling in their name. This brand is added to the title in addition to the salvage fire brand.
When an insurance company declares the vehicle has been damaged to the extent that it cannot be repaired for operation or that it is only of value as a source of parts or scrap metal.
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.