Buyers can purchase salvaged automobiles at junk yards, and companies like SalvageBid offer online auctions for salvaged cars. Some companies also use live, offline auctions, though they may also allow people to place bids online.
Cars become salvage vehicles in a number of ways, but most vehicles are labeled salvage if the cost to repair them is greater than the total value of the vehicle. When this happens, insurance companies write drivers a check for a car comparable to the one damaged and generally take possession of the damaged car. Cars are often sold at auction, but some might end up in a junk or scrap yard. Vehicles are sometimes labeled salvaged because the driver no longer wants to invest in its maintenance; this often happens on especially old cars.
When a car is marked as salvaged, state officials generally mark its title, indicating that the vehicle should not be sold as a functioning vehicle. However, many states allow people to fix salvaged cars and have their titles restored. Cars with rebuilt titles are generally valued far less than comparable cars as people who restore them often do the job while paying as little as possible, increasing the risk of future problems. Inspections performed when the title is restored do not normally indicate that the vehicle is safe to drive.