How to Get a Salvage Title Cleared in California

How to Get a Salvage Title Cleared in California

If a car gets into an accident and the insurance company considers it too expensive to fix, it will be given a salvage title. This does not mean that the car is totally broken, just that fixing it costs more than its value. If you reside in CA (California), this post will guide you on how to get a salvage title cleared in California.

A salvage title generally makes it hard to get insurance or even sell your car. If you have a salvage title or bought a car with one, you will be able to remove it in California with the help of this article.

Can You Remove Salvage Title California?

Before we discuss the steps to clear a salvage title in CA, understand that you cannot completely get rid of the salvage title if a car is totaled. Instead, you can get a “rebuilt title”.

In California, if your vehicle has been declared a total loss salvage and you want to rebuild and re-register it, the DMV can issue a branded title and registration. However, you would have rebuilt the vehicle and met specific requirements. The branded title you will get in CA is known as “Revived Salvage Vehicle”.

How to Get a Salvage Title Cleared in California

Follow these simple steps to get a cleared salvage title in California.

1. Fix the Vehicle’s Damage

If you plan to keep your salvage title car or bought one, you have to fix it up for driving. This can cost a lot, and because of the salvage title, it might be more than your car’s value.

After you fix the car’s damage, you might get a rebuilt title. Keep a record of the repairs because you will need proof for inspections later on.

2. Complete All the Paperwork Needed in California

In addition to fixing your car, you have to do some paperwork at the DMV. Start by filling out the Application for Title or Registration. This paper asks for a new title, so you can replace the salvage one with a new one that shows your car is rebuilt.

If you reside in California, you should have proof that you own the salvage title and certificate for the car. However, if you bought the car in another state, you will need a Statement of Facts. If your car is under 20 years old, you also need to show an Odometer Disclosure Statement.

3. Arrange a Checkup with an Approved California Inspector

You will need to set up an inspection with an approved California inspector as part of the steps to get a salvage title cleared in California. Get your vehicle’s ID number ready for the DMV inspection.

Sometimes, the DMV might ask you to get an inspection from the California Highway Patrol (CHP). If your car passes, they will give you a form called Reg 31, which verifies your vehicle.

4. Visit the DMV

After you finish fixing your vehicle and have all the papers and checks done, you can go to the DMV. Give them the CHP 97C paper to start registering your car. You will need to pay a non-refundable fee. Once the DMV approves, it might take around 4 to 6 weeks for them to send you the new title in the mail.

CHP Inspection Stations

When visiting the California Highway Patrol, make sure you bring papers showing you own the vehicle and bills for any repairs. The station also looks at cars that might be stolen using your VIN. If they approve your car after the check, you will receive a CHP 97C, which is like an inspection certificate.

Remember, you also need to get your brakes, lights, and smog checked. Meanwhile, you might be able to transfer title without smog in California. You will get certificates for each of these checks to show that your car passed.

Below are some CHP stations (with division name, address, and contact information) you can go to for the vehicle inspection:

Border Division9330 Farnham St., San Diego, CA 92123-1216. Phone: (858) 492-1745
Central Division5179 North Gates Avenue, Fresno, CA 93722-6414. Phone: (559) 488-4053
Coastal Division4115 Broad Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401-7963. Phone: (805) 549-3006
Golden Gate Division1551 Benicia Road, Vallejo, CA 94591-7568. Phone: (510) 622-4611
Inland Division847 E. Brier Drive, San Bernardino, CA 92408-2820. Phone: (909) 806-2437
Northern Division2485 Sonoma Street, Redding, CA 96001-3026. Phone: (530) 242-4360
Otay Mesa Inspection Facility2335 Enrico Fermi, San Diego, CA 92154. Phone: (858) 492-1745
Southern Division411 N Central Ave., #410, Glendale, CA 91203. Phone: (323) 644-9593
Valley Division11336 Trade Center Drive, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742-6219. Phone: (916) 464-1480
Westminster Area13200 Golden West Street, Westminster, CA 92683-2299. Phone: (714) 892-4426


This guide has taken you through the steps to get a salvage title cleared in California. Now, it is evident that you cannot completely clear the salvage title.  However, you can get a rebuilt title to show that your car is fixed. But a rebuilt title might not make it easy to get insurance. Some insurance companies will only offer you basic coverage or reject your car. So, when looking for insurance for a car with a rebuilt title, make sure to find out about their requirements and not just the quote.


Junk/Revived Salvaged Vehicles. California DMV

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