Skip to main content

Salvage Vehicles - The Ultimate Recycling -Trash to Treasure

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Lover of crafting, recycling and repurposing. Always looking to make cheap look lux, or just fun. Loves the inspiration of broken crap.

Over 30 Years Of Vehicle Rebuild Experience

Truck, cars, SUVs, a van, and even a motorcycle.

Truck, cars, SUVs, a van, and even a motorcycle.

Repairing or Rebuilding Salvage Vehicles

PLEASE NOTE: This lens is to SHARE INFORMATION only and is not intended to sell you either a salvage vehicle to rebuild or a rebuilt vehicle for sale.

This is a time line and information share of my dear husband's joy in rebuilding the project cars. It's a lot of fun for the car enthusiast, not to mention that because of this hobby I have enjoyed access to a semi-fleet of great vehicles and NO CAR PAYMENTS FOR NEARLY 30 YEARS!

Favorite salvage vehicle hunting grounds were: eBay, a local salvage yard, and twice bought from private owners after insurance paid total loss claims.

My husband had rebuilt lots of interesting, challenging, and different vehicle types while focused mostly on truck and SUV due to strength and lack of frame damage.

Our Once Future Wish lists:

Late 60's models of Mustang, Charger, Camaro, or Cougar

Ultimate Project ~ Prowler, because they just looked cool.

Realistic Ultimate project ~ Hybrid conversions

This article was updated often on the status of the rebuilds and new acquisitions. Have fun, and maybe learn a little about the process.

Buyer Beware!

  • You must be experienced at car repair & body work to rebuild vehicles successfully!
  • 99.9% of these sales are AS IS WHERE IS, no refunds!
  • Know what you are buying! See the vehicle if at all possible before bidding/buying and/or ask LOTS of questions!
  • Consider how far you are from the vehicle's location. You will need to have shipped or towed, or if lot drivable lease a flat bed trailer from a rental retailer. I often use U-Haul.
  • Know what forms are required by your state to register and title your vehicle. Make sure these forms will be included with the sale. The good salvage sellers will do this automatically, but don't assume this is the case everywhere you go.

    SEE "Proper Forms are Essential" below.

  • Become familiar with your local salvage yard to find required parts. Be prepared to remove parts from junked vehicles yourself. Dealer parts are outrageously expensive!
  • Make sure there are no limitations to what can be replaced with salvage parts. Just as an example: NYS requires replacement air bags to be purchased as new OEM only.
  • If you are experienced, paint the vehicle yourself. Painting can be very expensive and will reduce your final cost and realized profit.
  • If you are considering selling register and drive vehicle at least 6 months to a year to repair unknown collision-related repairs. This will give future buyers a sense of confidence in a pre-crashed vehicle.
  • There are no guarantees that major problems will not arise at some point. It's best to be aware of this to be well prepared for any situation.

Camaro - Sold


Completed sometime prior to 1992, and well before digital photography. This really bad photo, of a photo, even may have been a disc camera photo. Remember those?

I seem to remember hunting for a few IROC body parts. This had an unseen crack to the the frame, but luckily not huge or disastrous. Repaired easily by a friend in the welding business.


Proper Forms are Essential

Example - New York State Requirements

This is only an example of what has been required and may not be complete.

Your state will most likely have different requirements or for NYS requirements may have been updated so confirm what forms you will need BEFORE proceeding.

Required and received at dealer purchase:

Retail Seller's Receipt with VIN and state sales tax paid ~or~ if purchased from private owner, Form FS-6T sales tax receipt

Scroll to Continue

MV-907A Salvage Certificate or Original proofs of ownership

MV-83SAL Application for Salvage Vehicle Examination

MV-50 NYS Retail Certificate of Sale, provided by dealer

The forms above need to be sent to Salvage Theft Inspection Unit with application fee and required documentation according to form MV-83SAL. A letter will be sent to you with the date of appointment and details.

Courtesy if seller gives at time of purchase:

MV-82 Application for Registration / Title

MV-103 NYS Odometer and Damage Disclosure Statement (form is dated 7/16 and the first time I've seen this was for a prior version dated 5/11, so may be only used if info not given in another form).

Required for Salvage and Theft Inspection:

Appointment letter from Salvage/Theft Inspection Unit

Original receipts for the replacement parts - these will be returned to you at the conclusion of the examination

The usual registration process is then required.

NYS forms required for registration:

Obtain Insurance prior to registration and bring Insurance Card

Registration with Form MV-82 Application for Registration / Title

Proof of your identity and date of birth (See ID-82 for acceptable Proofs of Identity)

Form MV-50 (NYS dealer only) or form DTF-803 (out-of-state dealer) ~or~ if purchased from another person in a private sale, both the buyer and the seller must complete form DTF-802 .

New York State Safety Inspection within 10 days of registration

Original Sales Receipt showing purchase price and of Sales Tax paid

Received in approximately 15 business days after Salvage and Theft Inspection and, more than likely, after the registration:

Certificate of Title (MV-999) with branding "Rebuilt Salvage" noted on the title

Again, this is what is required in New York State.and is required a the writing of this lens and may not be complete depending on the situation so please confirm what forms you will need BEFORE beginning this process.

Conversion (Mom's Daycare Transport) Van - Sold


Installed doors on this side too, possibly before it was an option on mini-vans.

Completed sometime prior to 1993?

Sorry that this is not an "After" picture. Lack of documentation on our part. I'll keep looking through the not-yet-digital photos.

We Highly Recommend The Haynes Repair Book Series

Do these manuals look well used?  Why, yes, they do.  Great for maintenance and understanding the mechanics of a specific vehicle. And also used as folder for other vehicle information.

Do these manuals look well used? Why, yes, they do. Great for maintenance and understanding the mechanics of a specific vehicle. And also used as folder for other vehicle information.

We have 4 Haynes Repair Manuals. The Ford F250 edition is the most used of our entire library as it is our longest running vehicle (the red truck seen further down below). That may be due to the valuable repair advice from this book. Because this helpful guide has saved us the cost of from many repair shop visits, our Ford truck has paid for itself many times over.

Yamaha Roadstar Motorcycle - 1999 - Sold


An insurance claim total loss purchased from a business acquaintance. This is just an example photo.

Rebuilt without windshield. Didn't have saddlebags, although the hubby might have kept it if it did.

Dodge Ram - 1999 - Backup, then Primary, Work Truck - Scrapped Spring 2019


If I remember correctly, this was a pretty easy fix. The only problem was a delay to get an salvage inspection. It took about 3 or 4 months before we received the appointment time.

Oh well, it worked out in the end.

After many years of faithful service backing up for a Dodge Dually, then as primary, it needed some major repairs. After debating if we needed to find some extra time to do so, we did decide it was time to retire this workhorse from active duty in 2017.

Ford Explorer - Green - 1997 - Sold


Stock Photo

Another easy fix. Sold quickly after our self-imposed test trials were completed. We usually drove our rebuilt salvage vehicles 6-12 months just to make sure we are handing over the best vehicle we can.

Dodge Durango - 2001 - Purchased and rebuilt in 2003. Drove for over 10 years!


Was slated to be sold and replaced by Avalanche 2500 shown below when completed.

When we purchased this vehicle, we were well aware the best way to fix the damaged front end was to purchase a salvaged front end from another vehicle to repair it. I wish I had a picture of that. What arrived at our home was a car nearly cut in half at the drivers seat and resting on a flatbed.

Contrary to the above statement about selling this vehicle, my daughter, for a short time during 2012, used this vehicle while she was between purchases of her own car. After she finally did buy a new-to-her car, we ended up using this vehicle as a substitute newspaper delivery truck for supplemental income during a slow landscaping summer, and then again for a semi-permanent delivery job during a low snow volume snowplowing season in 2013.

Had off road for a while to consider if we needed a 4 wheel vehicle at that point for all semi-retired, work-at-home, driver? Or should we have passed it on to someone that really does need this amazing 4 wheel wonder in the western NY area that gets lake effect snow storms? In the end no decision was made, and finally had to scrap it in spring 2019.

Dodge Durango - 2002 - Sold


Another quick fix. Fender, hood, 2 tires, headlights, radiator and condenser and a few small parts to finish, and a little painting.

This Durango was supposed to be the keeper. The 2001 above was listed for sale and the buyer wanted to look at this one.

Yep, money talks.

YES! I would buy/drive salvage!

basilparker: Purchasing a rebuilt salvage vehicle is a good idea if you have thorough information about the car's damage history. These vehicles come at low price and you can resale it again to make money easily. I frequently participate in the salvage auto auctions to buy and sale used cars.

Chris1970: I would cosider it. With used car prices the way they are today, and I could never afford new. I would have it looked at prior to buying, but I see no problem otherwise.

PickupTrucksFan1: Have driven a salvaged VW Rabbit for 26 years now.

ChinaGal: Sounds like fun actually especially if you do as much of the work yourself that you can.

CreativeJuice: I think the point of deciding to buy a new one of a second hand piece is a matter reserved for those who have enough for their living. The economy is pretty changing and there is the need to be more practical. If there is a chance, save the money for rainy days. We will never know.

sirkeystone lm: I always buy used, nowadays! In fact I am in a similar project and am considering doing this for a back up income. My project now is an 89 Sonoma and so far all I have to do is some minor mechanical and rework the clear coat. Of course, it is a good un-salvaged vehicle too. I also buy to part out, but don't have the room for a salvage yard.

Deb Kingsbury: If I knew (or someone I trusted referred me to) the person doing the rebuild the, yes, I would definitely consider it. I don't buy new at all. In my opinion, it's a waste of money.

Beth: I have, I would, and I do!

Sorry, I only Buy New or Used Vehicles

anonymous: There is no such thing as a 100% repaired vehicle, If your a good body shop, i would give credit where credit is due, but there is allot odd ball body shops that do not care about the safety of other'si personally in the last 20 years, went to 15 under 20 funerals, 10 over 20 funerals and 20 lawsuits as a character witness because of my expertise. Once a vehicle leaves a Body Shop the vehicle is not 100% safe as it was when the manufacturer built it.

ruthtooth: The article is good and truly, salvage cars rebuilding will be a good alternative to people who are dreaming of beautiful cars. However, I am still after buying used cars. I am thinking of getting myself a used Nissan Murano, you can see the picture there. Hope to hear from you.

Ford Mustang - 2002 - Sold. Rats! I wanted this one