Customer Reviews

Salvage Car Transport in 2024: All You Need to Know

Posted on 11/21/2023

Table of Contents:

  1. Salvage car transport basics
  2. How to buy wrecked cars from a damaged car auction
  3. Inoperable vehicle transport tips
  4. Conclusion
  5. FAQ


salvage-car-transport

Salvage car transport basics

What is a salvage car?

Generally, a salvage car is a car that has very little or no financial value due to damage incurred from car accidents, floods, fires, or theft. With a salvage car, the insurance company has deemed the cost of repairs to be equal to or greater than the cost of buying an equivalent new or used vehicle.

Everything else you need to know about salvage cars

There are several other things that you should know before you start looking for salvage cars for sale:

  1. Someone might be interested in buying a salvage car for a few reasons.
  2. They plan to restore it for their personal use later or to sell it for a profit after the restoration is complete. Another reason a salvage car might be purchased is if an auto shop thinks it can sell or use some of the parts.
  3. Some people buy salvage cars for use by a first-time driver in their family, such as a teenager.

Salvage car transport challenges

One of the most important things to know about salvage cars and trucks is that most of them cannot be shipped on regular car shipping carrier trucks. The reason for this is that almost all salvage cars are not drivable. For a vehicle to be shipped on an open-air car carrier or in an enclosed car carrier, it must be driven on to both of those types of carrier trucks. So, with an inoperable salvage car, you will be forced to ship on a flatbed carrier. The car will be placed onto the carrier by a forklift or, more typically, pulled on by a special motorized cable known as a winch.

You should also be aware that most states require you to have a salvage car examined by the DMV to protect consumers and/or check for stolen parts or entire cars. This does not count as a vehicle inspection either. Additionally, you should know that many insurance companies will not offer complete coverage on scrap or rebuilt cars. Whatever coverage you can get will likely cost considerably more than it would for a typical new or used vehicle.

salvage-car-transport-challenges

Salvage car transport cost

The cost of shipping a salvage car will vary based on a variety of things. However, in most cases, it will be a bit more expensive. As we mentioned, most salvage cars cannot be shipped on typical car carriers and must be shipped via less common methods.

You can expect the overall cost of shipping a salvage car to cost between $0.50 and $1.50 per mile in 2024.

salvage-car-transport-cost

How to buy wrecked cars from a damaged car auction

Buying a wrecked car from a vehicle auction could be a great way to get a car you plan on restoring or using as a spare vehicle or even as a first car for a teen. However, you shouldn’t go into your first salvage car bidding experience before knowing a few things.

  1. Your best bet is an online salvage auction in 2024 – In-person salvage car auctions are quite rare these days, especially since the pandemic sent auctions online. Online auctions also typically offer more resources regarding the vehicles, such as instantly accessible history reports.
  2. Check your state’s laws and requirements for salvage title vehicles – Every state has different laws regarding salvage title vehicles. For example, New York requires that the DMV inspect a salvage car before issuing the title certificate. Other states, such as Texas, do not require this.
  3. Do not buy anything without the VIN and a resulting full report – Just because it is a salvage car and/or title does not mean that you shouldn’t check the car’s history. For example, if the vehicle had been in a severe collision and you plan on restoring it or stripping it for parts, it might be one thing. Still, if that same vehicle also has extensive flood damage, that could be something that changes your mind about purchasing it.
  4. Never over-bid – There will always be another salvage car for you to bid on in the future. Make sure you do not overpay for a salvage title vehicle because the overall value you will get out of a salvage car will always be low.
  5. Be sure to deal with the insurance – Depending on whether you plan on driving the salvage car after repairs/restoration, you will need to get insurance for the car before you do so. Getting insurance for a car with a salvage title is fairly difficult or expensive. Many insurance companies will refuse to offer any coverage to a vehicle with a salvage title. The companies that will offer you a policy for a car with a salvage title will offer extremely limited coverage at a high price. So, this is something you should consider before finalizing your salvage car purchase.

Inoperable vehicle transport tips

Not every salvage car will be undrivable (otherwise called “inoperable”), but most will be. If the salvage vehicle that you are shipping is, in fact, inoperable, the process will be a bit different. Use the following tips to ensure smooth and safe transport of your undrivable salvage car:

  • It still needs to be clean before pickup – Although your salvage car might be smashed up and/or have tons of dents, scratches, and chips, you will still need to clean the exterior before pickup. Your car shipping driver will still have to perform a visual inspection of the exterior so that they can take note of all the preexisting damage.

  • Check for loose parts – If the inoperable car you are shipping has serious damage from an accident, check it very carefully for loose parts before shipping it. These parts can fall off when the vehicle is in transit, so you would have to pay to replace them.

  • Be sure it is in a place where your auto transport driver can attach a winch – Wherever you are shipping a totaled car from, it will need to be accessible by the car carrier truck. For example, if it is in a garage, you will need to find a way to move it out.

  • If purchased at auction, talk to that auction about transport pickup rules – The auction that you ship your salvage car from might have certain rules that could impact the pickup of your shipment. For example, they might require that they tow the salvage car you bought from their lot to somewhere in front of the auction before you ship it or tow it the rest of the way home yourself.

inoperable-vehicle-transport-tips

Conclusion

Purchasing a salvage car is very useful if you plan on restoring it or if you plan on stripping it for parts, whether for use on your own or if you are going to sell the parts. However, if you are going to buy a wrecked car at a damaged car auction, be aware that there are several hurdles for you to clear. This includes getting the car to your location from the auction, dealing with insurance for the car if you plan on repairing and driving it, getting accurate vehicle histories, and more, depending on your state. As far as getting the vehicle home from an auction, you can skip the stress of towing it yourself and have it shipped with RoadRunner Auto Transport by calling (888)777-2123 anytime!

FAQ

How do you ship a salvage car?

You can ship a salvage car by simply contacting a car shipping company like RoadRunner and giving them all the details of your shipment. After that, your auto transport company will take care of the rest of the process for you, except for a few easily completed steps of preparation required on your part.

How are cars that won’t start shipped?

Cars that won’t start, otherwise known as inoperable or undrivable cars, are shipped on flatbed car carriers. Regular open car carriers and enclosed car carriers require a car to be able to be driven onto the trailer. With a flatbed car carrier, inoperable cars can be placed onto the trailer using either a forklift or a winch.

Is it worth buying a car with a salvage title?

Buying a car with a salvage title can be worth it if you can successfully rebuild the entire vehicle and sell it for a profit. The purchase of a vehicle with a salvage title can also be worth it if you intend to strip what remains for parts and sell them for a profit.

Is totaled car transport more expensive?

Totaled car transport tends to be more expensive than typical car transport because totaled cars cannot be shipped on open or enclosed car carriers. Thus, they must be shipped on special flatbed car carriers, which are more expensive to ship on because they are much shorter in supply and can only ship one to four cars, whereas typical car carriers can ship more than ten vehicles at a time.

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Salvage Car Transport in 2024: All You Need to Know

Posted on 11/21/2023

Table of Contents:

  1. Salvage car transport basics
  2. How to buy wrecked cars from a damaged car auction
  3. Inoperable vehicle transport tips
  4. Conclusion
  5. FAQ


salvage-car-transport

Salvage car transport basics

What is a salvage car?

Generally, a salvage car is a car that has very little or no financial value due to damage incurred from car accidents, floods, fires, or theft. With a salvage car, the insurance company has deemed the cost of repairs to be equal to or greater than the cost of buying an equivalent new or used vehicle.

Everything else you need to know about salvage cars

There are several other things that you should know before you start looking for salvage cars for sale:

  1. Someone might be interested in buying a salvage car for a few reasons.
  2. They plan to restore it for their personal use later or to sell it for a profit after the restoration is complete. Another reason a salvage car might be purchased is if an auto shop thinks it can sell or use some of the parts.
  3. Some people buy salvage cars for use by a first-time driver in their family, such as a teenager.

Salvage car transport challenges

One of the most important things to know about salvage cars and trucks is that most of them cannot be shipped on regular car shipping carrier trucks. The reason for this is that almost all salvage cars are not drivable. For a vehicle to be shipped on an open-air car carrier or in an enclosed car carrier, it must be driven on to both of those types of carrier trucks. So, with an inoperable salvage car, you will be forced to ship on a flatbed carrier. The car will be placed onto the carrier by a forklift or, more typically, pulled on by a special motorized cable known as a winch.

You should also be aware that most states require you to have a salvage car examined by the DMV to protect consumers and/or check for stolen parts or entire cars. This does not count as a vehicle inspection either. Additionally, you should know that many insurance companies will not offer complete coverage on scrap or rebuilt cars. Whatever coverage you can get will likely cost considerably more than it would for a typical new or used vehicle.

salvage-car-transport-challenges

Salvage car transport cost

The cost of shipping a salvage car will vary based on a variety of things. However, in most cases, it will be a bit more expensive. As we mentioned, most salvage cars cannot be shipped on typical car carriers and must be shipped via less common methods.

You can expect the overall cost of shipping a salvage car to cost between $0.50 and $1.50 per mile in 2024.

salvage-car-transport-cost

How to buy wrecked cars from a damaged car auction

Buying a wrecked car from a vehicle auction could be a great way to get a car you plan on restoring or using as a spare vehicle or even as a first car for a teen. However, you shouldn’t go into your first salvage car bidding experience before knowing a few things.

  1. Your best bet is an online salvage auction in 2024 – In-person salvage car auctions are quite rare these days, especially since the pandemic sent auctions online. Online auctions also typically offer more resources regarding the vehicles, such as instantly accessible history reports.
  2. Check your state’s laws and requirements for salvage title vehicles – Every state has different laws regarding salvage title vehicles. For example, New York requires that the DMV inspect a salvage car before issuing the title certificate. Other states, such as Texas, do not require this.
  3. Do not buy anything without the VIN and a resulting full report – Just because it is a salvage car and/or title does not mean that you shouldn’t check the car’s history. For example, if the vehicle had been in a severe collision and you plan on restoring it or stripping it for parts, it might be one thing. Still, if that same vehicle also has extensive flood damage, that could be something that changes your mind about purchasing it.
  4. Never over-bid – There will always be another salvage car for you to bid on in the future. Make sure you do not overpay for a salvage title vehicle because the overall value you will get out of a salvage car will always be low.
  5. Be sure to deal with the insurance – Depending on whether you plan on driving the salvage car after repairs/restoration, you will need to get insurance for the car before you do so. Getting insurance for a car with a salvage title is fairly difficult or expensive. Many insurance companies will refuse to offer any coverage to a vehicle with a salvage title. The companies that will offer you a policy for a car with a salvage title will offer extremely limited coverage at a high price. So, this is something you should consider before finalizing your salvage car purchase.

Inoperable vehicle transport tips

Not every salvage car will be undrivable (otherwise called “inoperable”), but most will be. If the salvage vehicle that you are shipping is, in fact, inoperable, the process will be a bit different. Use the following tips to ensure smooth and safe transport of your undrivable salvage car:

  • It still needs to be clean before pickup – Although your salvage car might be smashed up and/or have tons of dents, scratches, and chips, you will still need to clean the exterior before pickup. Your car shipping driver will still have to perform a visual inspection of the exterior so that they can take note of all the preexisting damage.

  • Check for loose parts – If the inoperable car you are shipping has serious damage from an accident, check it very carefully for loose parts before shipping it. These parts can fall off when the vehicle is in transit, so you would have to pay to replace them.

  • Be sure it is in a place where your auto transport driver can attach a winch – Wherever you are shipping a totaled car from, it will need to be accessible by the car carrier truck. For example, if it is in a garage, you will need to find a way to move it out.

  • If purchased at auction, talk to that auction about transport pickup rules – The auction that you ship your salvage car from might have certain rules that could impact the pickup of your shipment. For example, they might require that they tow the salvage car you bought from their lot to somewhere in front of the auction before you ship it or tow it the rest of the way home yourself.

inoperable-vehicle-transport-tips

Conclusion

Purchasing a salvage car is very useful if you plan on restoring it or if you plan on stripping it for parts, whether for use on your own or if you are going to sell the parts. However, if you are going to buy a wrecked car at a damaged car auction, be aware that there are several hurdles for you to clear. This includes getting the car to your location from the auction, dealing with insurance for the car if you plan on repairing and driving it, getting accurate vehicle histories, and more, depending on your state. As far as getting the vehicle home from an auction, you can skip the stress of towing it yourself and have it shipped with RoadRunner Auto Transport by calling (888)777-2123 anytime!

FAQ

How do you ship a salvage car?

You can ship a salvage car by simply contacting a car shipping company like RoadRunner and giving them all the details of your shipment. After that, your auto transport company will take care of the rest of the process for you, except for a few easily completed steps of preparation required on your part.

How are cars that won’t start shipped?

Cars that won’t start, otherwise known as inoperable or undrivable cars, are shipped on flatbed car carriers. Regular open car carriers and enclosed car carriers require a car to be able to be driven onto the trailer. With a flatbed car carrier, inoperable cars can be placed onto the trailer using either a forklift or a winch.

Is it worth buying a car with a salvage title?

Buying a car with a salvage title can be worth it if you can successfully rebuild the entire vehicle and sell it for a profit. The purchase of a vehicle with a salvage title can also be worth it if you intend to strip what remains for parts and sell them for a profit.

Is totaled car transport more expensive?

Totaled car transport tends to be more expensive than typical car transport because totaled cars cannot be shipped on open or enclosed car carriers. Thus, they must be shipped on special flatbed car carriers, which are more expensive to ship on because they are much shorter in supply and can only ship one to four cars, whereas typical car carriers can ship more than ten vehicles at a time.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the vehicle shipping process.


When determining your car shipping cost, there are a few factors that we take into account in order to provide you with an accurate price quote. The mileage between the origin and destination is the biggest factor that contributes to your total rate. In addition to the distance of your relocation, another factor is the type and condition of the vehicle being shipped. The final factor is the date that your vehicle will be ready for transport. Read more about how much it costs to ship a car.

To get a quote for shipping your vehicle, you can either use our instant online car shipping quote calculator above or you can call (888) 422-7584 to receive a quote from one of our car transport pricing specialists. In order for us to calculate your quote we will need to know the location you are shipping from and to, the type of vehicle you would like to ship, and the date your vehicle will be ready.

The transit time for your shipment is based mostly on the mileage between the pickup and delivery location. Generally, every five hundred miles will add one day to the transit time - so for a 1,000 mile transport, the transit time would be 2-3 days. Check out our estimated transit times for a detailed view of approximate delivery times.

Yes, online tracking is available to you 24 hours a day and is updated in real time. Upon scheduling your shipment, you will receive a unique booking number that will allow you to track the status of your shipment online. Your tracking portal will also give you the ability to live chat with a shipping agent that can answer any questions you may have regarding the status of your shipment.

All shipments include basic liability coverage during transit. Comprehensive insurance options are available for an elevated level of shipment coverage during transit. You will be able to select a level of coverage during the booking process. If you have further questions regarding insurance options give us a call.

We accept all major credit cards, electronic transfer, postal money order, and bank/certified check for the deposit or full pre-payment of your shipment. If a balance is due upon delivery, it can be paid directly to the driver and can be paid in either cash, bank/certified check, or postal money order.

Yes, there must be someone present to release and accept the vehicle, provide keys to the driver and sign the initial and final inspection reports. This person can be anyone over the age of 18 that you trust with releasing or accepting your vehicle.

You may transport personal belongings in your car, as long as their total weight does not exceed 100 pounds and they are stored in the trunk or back seat (below the window line). Please keep in mind that personal belongings are not covered by insurance if they are reported as damaged or missing.

To get a quote for shipping your vehicle, you can either use our instant online car shipping quote calculator above or you can call (888) 422-7584 to receive a quote from one of our car transport pricing specialists. In order for us to calculate your quote we will need to know the location you are shipping from and to, the type of vehicle you would like to ship, and the date your vehicle will be ready.

The further in advance you schedule your shipment, the more likely we will be able to meet the time requirements you desire. For best results, we suggest scheduling your transport at least 2 to 3 weeks in advance. Expedited shipping options are available in order to accomodate shipments that require . You can always give us a call and ask one of our car shipping experts what your options are in terms of the schedule for your car transport.

The driver will get the car transporter as close to your door as he can legally and safely get. In most cases, the driver will be able to pickup and deliver directly at your door. Some cities may have restrictions on large trucks that prohibit them from driving into residential areas. Auto transport trucks are large and need lots of room to maneuver and turn around, so if access to the pickup or delivery location is restricted by narrow streets, low-hanging trees or tight turns, the driver may ask that you meet at a location nearby with a large parking lot, such as a grocery store.

Open transport is the most common car shipping method. There are two types of open-air transporters. Majority of shipments are be made with 8-10 car carriers. Smaller carriers which hold 2-3 cars are used for shorter more local moves. There is broader network of carrier availability for open-air carriers since they are used more often. We suggest choosing enclosed shipping methods when shipping classic, luxury or exotic vehicles. Enclosed transporters guarantee maximum protection from exposure to any open-air elements on the road. We suggest booking your enclosed transport in advance since there is limited carrier availability.

RoadRunner Auto Transport specializes in shipping all types of vehicles such as sedans, SUVs, pickup trucks, minivans, oversized vehicles, antiques, classic cars, motorcycles, construction vehicles, inoperable cars and boats. If you are not sure whether or not we can ship your vehicle, you can give us a call to find out what we can do for you.

You should have about a quarter of a tank of gas in your car at the time of shipment. This leaves enough for the car to be loaded and unloaded but doesn't add much additional weight.

The Bill of Lading is a very important document used by car shipping companies that documents any pre-existing damage on the vehicle during the time of pickup. It also serves as a record of your contact info and the official agreement for transport. If you want to file any insurance claim regarding your shipment you will need the Bill of Lading.

Top load service is when your car is placed on the higher deck or level of an open auto transport trailer. This is considered to be preferable to the bottom load because the cars on the lower deck are at risk of possibly having fluid from the cars above leak on them.

Make sure your car has been completely cleaned, both inside and outside. This is particularly important because this will help the driver conduct their inspection in order to assess any pre-existing damage on your vehicle. You will also want to make there are no additional personal items in the vehicle unless you intend to ship those with the vehicle (remember those items must total less than 100 pounds combined and be kept below the window-line of the vehicle). Be sure to inform the driver of any special circumstances concerning the vehicle. Finally, make sure there is a quarter tank of gas in the car at the time it is picked up for shipment.

Yes, we can ship vehicles that are in non-running/inoperable condition. When inoperable cars are shipped, a special auto carrier is required that makes use of a winch which is connected to your car and slowly and safely pulls your vehicle onto the carrier. There is an additional fee for inpoerable vehicles because of the special equipment and extra work involved with securing the vehicle onto the transporter. You can select the inoperable option on the online booking form or inform your shipping agent if you make your reservation by phone so that the proper arrangements can be made to accomodate a non-running vehicle.

We offer open car shipping and enclosed car shipping services. Open car shipping is used much more frequently and is the type of auto transport that you see on the highway where carriers are hauling vehicles on two decks that are exposed. Enclosed car shipping is when your vehicle is shipped in a trailer which has walls and a roof, they look like a larger version of a regular eighteen-wheeler. This method is recommended for luxury, exotic or classic cars.

Door-to-door car transport is the full service delivery of your vehicle directly from the door at the pickup location to the door at the delivery location. Our drivers do their best to get as close as physically and legally possible to the pickup and delivery locations, but in certain instances there may be restrictions preventing them from being able to safely reach your door. Our transporters need ample space to maneuver and load/unload your vehicle. If your street is too narrow, or if there are hazards such as low lining trees or power lines, drivers may ask that you meet them at a location nearby where they can safely load or unload your vehicle, such as a large parking lot or shopping center nearby.