How to Buy a Car With a Salvage Title in South Carolina

How to Buy a Car With a Salvage Title in South Carolina
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In South Carolina, when a vehicle is severely damaged and declared a total loss by an insurance company, the vehicle’s title must be submitted to the state Department of Motor Vehicles for an appropriate salvage brand. Once a salvage brand has been added to a title, it can never be removed. To buy a car titled with a salvage brand, complete the purchase transaction, obtain the current title from the former owner and submit an Application for Certificate of Title to the DMV.

Complete the purchase transaction. If the vehicle’s title is dated prior to June 19, 1989, you must complete an official bill of sale form to submit with your title application. You can obtain a Bill of Sale, Form 4031, from your local DMV office. Note that it is generally a good idea to obtain documentary proof of your purchase whether or not the DMV requires it.

Obtain the vehicle title from the previous owner. The previous owner must first indicate on the back of the title, by signature, that it is being transferred to you.

Download an Application for Certificate of Title and Registration for Motor Vehicle form from the DMV website (see Resources). Read through the documents to familiarize yourself with the titling requirements. Note that the final four pages include detailed instructions on how to properly complete the application.

Complete the application. In Section A, select “Title Only.” Note that Section H is only relevant to insurance companies; you are not required to complete it. Also note that an insurance certification is not required of you, since you are not registering the vehicle for operation on the roads. When the application is complete, take it, along with the original title from the previous owner, to your local DMV office for processing. Be prepared to pay the appropriate fee and sales tax. After processing, a new title will be issued to you.


  • You must submit your title application within 45 days of your purchase.


  • A title is only issued to cars physically located in South Carolina.