While there is no set calculation to determine the value of a wrecked car, there are basic methods you can use to find the approximate salvage value. A common rule of thumb is that a vehicle with a salvage title is worth about half what it would be worth with a clean title, while insurance companies may designate an even lower value. A reputable repair shop can usually offer a fair assessment of a vehicle's value, as well as any problems with repairs.
Method 1 of 3: Calculate Value Based on a No Salvage Price
Step 1. Identify the year, make, and model of the car
The value of a vehicle is affected by a number of variables, but the most important information to start with is the year, make, and model of the car. Find this information in the vehicle's owner's manual or on the salvage value title.
- The value of a car can vary significantly from year to year, so it is important to identify vehicle-specific information.
- The title includes all this information.
Step 2. Determine the vehicle version, if possible
Many cars can be purchased with different trim packages. These levels determine things like interior fittings, engine size and suspension components, as well as the look of the car. The version is indicated in the title or in the name of the car.
- Some automakers (like BMW) include the version in the model. The BMW 3 series has different versions indicated by numbers after the 3, such as the 318 or 335i.
- Other manufacturers add letters to the model to identify the version, such as Chevrolet Cobalt LT.
- You may be able to find further guidance on the vehicle manufacturer's website to better identify its version.
Step 3. Check the value of the blue book based on the information you know
There are many web pages that allow you to enter the information collected to know the current market value of a vehicle that does not have a residual value title. Use one of these pages to determine the value of the vehicle if it had a normal title.
- Do an internet search to find pages that offer this tool based on the values of your country.
- Be sure to include information related to car options, such as a sunroof, CD player, or alloy wheels.
Step 4. Reduce 50% of the figure provided
Once you determine the market value of the vehicle if it had a normal title, divide the figure by two (or reduce it by 50%) to find the estimated value of the car with a residual value title.
- This method will only give you an approximate value of the vehicle.
- Insurance companies typically reduce the value by 75-80%, instead of 50% for claims purposes.
Method 2 of 3: Have the car appraised
Step 1. Contact a local auto repair shop
The fact that a car has a salvage title means that it must have been repaired at an accredited repair shop and inspected to determine that it is roadworthy. Contact a reputable repair shop and ask if someone can inspect the vehicle to determine its value and the quality of the repairs.
Some repair shops specialize in certain jobs and will not always be able to assess the full value of a car
Step 2. Take the vehicle to a repair shop
To accurately appraise the car, mechanics will have to go over it in depth, which means putting it on a lift and spending some time examining it. The best way for them to get an accurate idea of the quality of the repairs and the value of the vehicle is to have it inspected.
- Do this only if you can legally drive the vehicle. Otherwise, you will have to tow it to the workshop.
- If you can't get the vehicle to the repair shop, you can ask the mechanics if they can come with you to inspect it, but they won't be able to check it as accurately.
Step 3. Report the damage and repair of the vehicle
There are different ways that a car can be damaged that could cause it to be considered "wrecked" and then "salvaged." Knowing the damage to the car makes it easier for mechanics to evaluate repairs. For example, flood damage requires major interior work and possibly a new engine, while a serious accident can lead to chassis damage and repair.
- Ask the seller to provide as much information as possible about the damage and repairs made.
- You can also request a vehicle report from an entity dedicated to this task in your country indicating the reasons why it is considered destroyed.
Step 4. Ask the store to provide you with an estimate
Once the repair shop mechanics have reviewed your vehicle, they will be able to provide you with a fair estimate of the car's value, as well as any potential issues you may need to address as a result of the repairs.
- This calculation is probably higher than the one provided by the insurance company.
- The repair shop may also be able to point you to other potential problems with the vehicle that are not associated with the title or the repairs.
Method 3 of 3: Request the value through your insurance company
Step 1. Gather all the pertinent information
Just as you did when obtaining an estimated value of the car, gather all the information you have regarding the year, make, model and version of the vehicle. Take note of any options the car has that may increase its value.
- It's best to have more information than is necessary to ensure you get the most accurate value possible.
- You may also need to provide the vehicle identification number.
Step 2. Contact your insurance company
Your insurance company will evaluate the value of the vehicle to determine the projected cost of providing coverage. Call your insurance agent and tell him that you want him to assess the value of the vehicle you want to buy and insure. They will put you in touch with an agent who can assist you.
Your insurance company will have to determine the value of the vehicle to calculate what it will charge you for coverage
Step 3. Give all the information you have to the agent
The insurance agent will ask you a series of questions related to the vehicle. Tell him everything you can to establish the most accurate estimate possible.
- Tell him if you are not sure of an answer. Better to be precise.
- If you have information about the repairs made to the vehicle, it may be helpful to share it.
Step 4. Receive an appraisal through your insurance company
Once the insurance agent calculates the information provided with the equation they use to determine the value of vehicles with residual title, they will provide you with an appraisal of the car.
- This valuation is surely much lower than that established by the estimates and even the market.
- The value of the insurance could be lower than the starting price, especially if it is a rare or exotic vehicle.