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Salvage Vehicles - The Ultimate Recycling -Trash to Treasure

Updated on February 11, 2019
SoyCandleLover profile image

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

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 husband's rebuild projects. 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 THE LAST 15 YEARS!

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

My husband has rebuilt lots of fun and different vehicles while focusing mostly on truck and SUV due to strength and lack of frame damage.

Our Future Wish lists:

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

Ultimate Project ~ Prowler

Realistic Ultimate project ~ Hybrid conversions

This article will be updated often on the status of the current rebuild and new acquisitions.

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. :D
  • 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 prior to 1992. 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

MV-907A Salvage Certificate or Original proofs of ownership

MV-899 Application for Salvage Vehicle Examination

MV-50 NYS Retail Certificate of Sale

The forms above need to be sent to Salvage Theft Inspection Unit with application fee of $200 if you have form MV-907A (NYS Salvage Certificate) as proof of ownership. $205 if you do not have a MV-907A. Letter will be sent to you with the date of appointment.

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 5/11 and this is the first time I've seen this, 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 1991?

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 Haynes Repair Manuals - Versions Available for Nearly Every Vehicle Make & Model

Ford Super Duty Pick-up & Excursion for Ford Super Duty F-250 & F-350 Pick-ups & Excursion 999-10) Haynes Repair Manual: Includes Gasoline and Diesel Engines
Ford Super Duty Pick-up & Excursion for Ford Super Duty F-250 & F-350 Pick-ups & Excursion 999-10) Haynes Repair Manual: Includes Gasoline and Diesel Engines
We have 4 of these repair manuals (see photo below). This is the most used edition of our entire library. The Ford F250 shown below is the longest running vehicle we have. That may be due to the valuable repair advice from the book. Because of this, the truck has paid for itself many times over.

We Really Do Recommend these Repair Manuals - We Have 4

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 - Previously the Back-up Plow Truck

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.

It now needs some major repairs. Debating on trying to find some extra time to do so, or perhaps it's time to retire this workhorse.

Ford Explorer - Green - 1997 - Sold

Stock Photo

Another easy fix. Sold quickly after our self-imposed test trials were completed. We usually drive 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.

Currently off road and considering our next move. Do we need a 4 wheel vehicle at this point for the semi-retired, work-at-home, driver? Or should we pass it on to someone that really does need this amazing 4 wheel wonder in the western NY area that gets lake effect snow storms?

Dodge Durango - 2002 - Sold

Purchased from SalvageAutos on eBay.

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.

Past Comments from Readers

Would you consider driving a rebuilt salvage vehicle. Or only used or new vehicles?

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.

Salvage Vehicles by pawautos - 100% Feedback Ratings

This may be our next salvage auction company as they are located within 400 miles of our home. As I said in the intro of this article, we do not intend to sell you salvage vehicles, but we do like to post our own possible leads for future reference.

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

Replaced the fender, headlights, hood, a few parts under the hood, 1 nicely matched tire, some emblems and stripes, and a good paint job and buffing.

Good to go.

And it did. It really did.

Sold really, really, fast.


Oldsmobile Alero - 1999 - Sold. Yeah, this one was supposed to be for me.

This car was purchased from a friend after totaled by the insurance company. This Alero was purchased to keep after being rebuilt.

Oh well, better offer.

Ford F250 - 2002 - Still driving as Primary

So far this has turned out to be a great workhorse. It's a keeper.

Matter of fact, we then turned it into a secondary plow truck. After we got the 4 wheel drive working. Yuck! That was pricey.

Now this Ford-Tough Truck is the primary business and plow truck. The Blue 99 Dodge way up in this page was hanging in there for a long time. Most definitely Ram Tough. It may get a chsnce to give this truck a run for the money again. Still debating.

Recommended Vendor for Salvage Vehicles and parts by 104rebuildables - 100% Feedback Ratings

NOTE: 104rebuildables does not always have salvage parts for sale on eBay, so please forgive us if this space is empty.

Ford Excursion - 2003 - Sold

Added stock OEM DVD overhead system.

Completed 2008. Drove as Secondary- Tested out fine.

OK, the testing phase was longer than usual...

Hubby won't give it up. Boys and their toys?

Finally SOLD Summer 2010.

Chevrolet Avalanche 2500 - 2003 - February 2009 - October 2010

Needed new wheels, tires and some minor part replacements, and some new paint. Had as heck of a time with a replacement CD Stereo. Had to replace the replacement, too. Wrong anti-theft code that wouldn't unlock even at the dealer. They did give us the correct code for the salvage dealer to swap the stereo at no charge. Phew!

Sorry about the rain spattered window in the picture. Parked right up to the garage on the dark side of the house.The tow to the painter's was called in for scheduling during sunny skies. Yah-huh.

Chevy Avalanche 2500 (continued) - The better looking pre-completion side

It took longer time to finish this car due to lack of spring and fall moderate weather as our summers are always full. Winter snook up upon us way too fast.

*Sigh* We had hoped this vehicle would be completed in the spring, but took until the next Fall.

NYS Salvage and Theft Recovery Inspection passed without issue. Phew.

Still have it, and considering next steps.

First Electric Golf Cart Project... - EZ-Go Medallion model, but no go.

EZ-Go Electric Golf Cart
EZ-Go Electric Golf Cart

Lack of time, batteries, and familiarity doomed this one to a resell. But made a profit.

FYI- if it doesn't have the batteries, it may cost more than the cart to replace them.

Lesson learned.

Dodge Magnum RT - 2005 ~ Project for Winter 2011 through Spring 2012

Flood damage locked Hemi engine. Hoping it's just a repair, but have engine lined up just in case.

This vehicle was also purchased from Salvageauctions like the 2002 Durango above. We picked it up this time. Right in the middle of Long Island in NYC. Interesting drive, but will have it delivered again next time. We were glad to meet Frank at Salvage Auctions, though.

Unfortunately SalvageAuctions is no longer a registered member of eBay. It may be due to a negative feedback that threatened his business. Frank has been completely and totally honest in his listings, on the phone, and in person, too. The above vehicle may have had engine water damage. We were hoping that that would not be the case, but Frank warned us that it probably would need a new or rebuilt engine. We should heeded his warning, cuz he was right. :) I truly can't imagine that with nearly 350 feedbacks where nearly everyone states the seller is honest and many says he goes out his way to help with everything from paperwork and helping with the transport shipping.

Dodge Charger RT - 2006 ~ A new first... 2nd of 2 current projects for Winter 2011 & Spring 2012

Even I can tell what's wrong with this 2006 Dodge Charger salvage vehicle...
Even I can tell what's wrong with this 2006 Dodge Charger salvage vehicle...

Husband is thrilled he found another Dodge Hemi 5.7 liter 8 cylinder car. He now has 3 engines for 2 cars. Hopefully that will be enough to get both Dodge RT cars on the road.

He's hoping that he can rebuild both vehicles and have a leftover motor to sell. I wish him luck, but I'm not holding my breath because he hasn't replaced or rebuilt an engine in years.

This Charger has turned into a really long term project since it is still virtually untouched as of March 2013. A few melted parts have been removed for scrap. A few parts have been ordered but not installed yet.

By 2017, a lot of major parts have been ordered and received. The side door had been primer painted and installed. New and used parts are stored on top of the car, on the cars back seat, in the trunk, and in the basement.

By Spring of 2019, we will be wondering when this car will be complete. Perhaps during retirement? It just may be a classic by then.

Leave your tracks (comments) here!

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Informative,and I would consider a repaired salvage vehicle now.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Enjoyed your lens.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens... I thought it would be better if you could insert both the "Before" and "After" pictures though. After spending 8 years looking at a wide range of old vehicles that have been done up, I find it fascinating to see just how bad they were to how well they've been restored.

    • Deano1979 profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lensCar Body Repair

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Nice! It started me thinking about having work done on smaller vehicles. Will be checking that out once I manage to get the other projects done.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      A lot of decent information on the salvage industry

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      A lot of decent information on the salvage industry

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      10 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Very interesting lens. As I said in the duel above, I think buying new is a waste of money, personally. I'm lensrolling this to mine about my husband's $100 Datsun. That's a 40 year-old car that's still running.

    • SoyCandleLover profile imageAUTHOR

      Beth Webster-Duerr 

      11 years ago from Henrietta, New York

      [in reply to PetMemorialWorld] Me, too. But I'm lucky enough to be married to the "talent". :D Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Really interesting lens! Wish I was as talented mechanically too.

    • SoyCandleLover profile imageAUTHOR

      Beth Webster-Duerr 

      11 years ago from Henrietta, New York

      [in reply to minirich] We really don't have the space either. Outside, in front of the garage. :D Thanks for stopping in.

    • SoyCandleLover profile imageAUTHOR

      Beth Webster-Duerr 

      11 years ago from Henrietta, New York

      [in reply to kiwisoutback] Thanks so much. Classic American muscle car is on the future wish list, and we can't wait until the opportunity arrives. Thanks again.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Grate, learned something new, i'd like to do it myself, but lack of skills and space prevented me for doing so.

    • Kiwisoutback profile image


      11 years ago from Massachusetts

      Impressive what your husband has salvaged! I'm no mechanic, I wish I were, or I'd have an older car myself. Excellent job!


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