Buying a salvage motorcycle might be a good idea if you are hoping to save some money. You could always buy a used vehicle, but there are many used bikes that are worse than what you can find at a salvage auction at an even lower price.
Many people shy away from motorcycles with salvage titles, but that market has great potential. A salvage title doesn’t mean the bike is wrecked beyond repair. A vehicle can get a salvage title for multiple reasons.
What a Salvage Title Means
A bike with a salvage title means the bank or insurance companies consider it a total loss. That means the repair cost of the bike after the accident is higher than its current market value. When a motorcycle gets into an accident, the owner files for insurance and the insurance company calculates the worth of the repairs. If the cost exceeds 75% to 90%, the bike gets the total loss label.
However, you can always get the bike repaired and apply for a rebuilt or clean title if it clears the inspection ensuring it is safe.
Here is where the purchase becomes tricky as not all salvage autos are repairable at a reasonable price. We bring you a list of what you need to consider when buying salvage motorcycles, so you don’t end up paying more than the vehicle is worth.
Not all Salvage Vehicles Are the Same
A salvage title is just a title and does not indicate damage to the vehicle’s mechanism. You will have to figure out the extent of damage yourself to determine whether the bike is a good purchase or not. Sometimes even superficial repairs to an older model can earn a bike the salvage title. If the motorcycle had expensive molding or a custom paint color that is severely damaged, even that could earn it a salvage title.
Ask for the Vehicle History
The vehicle history report is an accurate and detailed report that lists the damages the vehicle has injured and how. It can help you identify how the bike got the salvage title, the problems with the vehicle, and whether or not the bike’s mechanism is damaged.
This step is particularly essential as you get all sorts of vehicles at an auction, many of which might only be worth the scrap yard. A seller might clean up a bike that drowned and put it up for auction at a reasonable price, and you won’t even know until you start repairing it.
Be Vary of Stolen Vehicles
You need to be extra careful when purchasing a vehicle from a private dealer, especially online dealers. Make sure you browse through the National Insurance Crime Bureau website to make sure the bike you are about to buy isn’t stolen. If in doubt, let the bike go and move on.
Take an Expert Mechanic for a Closer Inspection
Having a reliable mechanic is essential if you intend to buy a salvage motorcycle. Not only will they handle the repairs, but they can also help you make the right purchase decision. Make sure you get to the auction site beforehand and take the mechanic with you. They may be able to identify problems that you may have missed during your research.
An added plus with having a trusted and reliable mechanic is that they may have access to cheap spare parts for the bike. Knowing that you can get the parts at a lower price can help seal the deal. Plus, they will also estimate the total cost of the bike after the repairs, ensuring you don’t end up taking on more than you can bear financially.
You may not be allowed to go visit each bike before the auction day, so make sure you have multiple options and multiple auctions. A significant problem with auctions is that the real thing is very different from the pictures. Plus, your mechanic can also point out problems you didn’t notice at first.
Make sure you also reach out to authentic and trusted sellers. If the retailer is new and they seem to have excellent deals, then double-check the vehicles on the National Insurance Crime Bureau website and don’t purchase a bike you haven’t physically seen before the auction.
Here’s another problem. A lot of online auctions don’t let you see the vehicle before purchase. Make sure you ask for the vehicle history report. If the retailer is unwilling to provide the report, it means there is something fishy, and you should not trust them.
Read Up on State Laws
Every state has different laws on the restoration of salvage vehicles. Some of the laws and restrictions can result in a substantial spike in the repair and restoration costs. Some even affect the insurance application process by laying out detailed stipulations for the kind of coverage required, which will restrict your options.
California, for example, does not clear salvage titles. As per the state’s law, you can apply for a rebuilt title after your bike clears detailed inspections. Make sure to check your state’s department of motor vehicle requirements before making the purchase.
Be Prepared for Thorough Inspections
Your repaired salvage motorcycle will undergo substantial inspections and tests to ensure everything runs smoothly. The inspector will check the bike for functional brakes, turning signals, working headlights, and tail lights. Some states will even check the vehicle for other things such as harmful emissions and frame integrity.
The exact road safety criterion varies by state, and you must read up on your area’s laws before purchasing a salvage motorcycle.
You Will Need Insurance
Lastly, know that you will have to apply for insurance once you get the title cleared or changed to “rebuilt.” You will be able to get the mandatory liability insurance once the title change process is complete. It will provide primary coverage for damage to property and bodily harm to another driver.
However, getting coverage for damage incurred in accidents for your vehicle can be challenging. Insurance companies don’t have a criterion for assessing the worth of a salvage vehicle, but they assume that it is not a lot, so they take very calculated risks.
Here too, you will have to do extensive research to find insurance companies providing cheaper premiums and excellent coverage. Don’t just get insurance for the sake of getting one. Make sure you do your research to find a favorable one that suits your requirements.
A salvage title sounds scary, but it really isn’t. Provided you pay attention to detail and are thorough in your research, you can get a really good deal at a salvage auction. Make sure you take into account the list of things to consider when buying a salvage motorcycle mentioned above.
You will have to be particularly careful when buying through online auctions. Make sure to ask for vehicle history and try to view it in person before purchasing it. You can significantly benefit from a second opinion by your mechanic and help you avoid costly purchases. Take your time when browsing through salvage motorcycles because it is always better to be safe than sorry.