Navigating the world of salvage cars for sale at online auto auction isn’t as difficult as it seems. We’re here to clear up some mysteries for all you car auction beginners. We’re covering the top 5 damage types to look for if you’re looking for a repairable salvage car for sale that won’t cost too much in repairs or take too much effort to get running.

Keep in mind, when you’re getting a vehicle with a salvage title, you’ll need to have it cleared by your local DMV before you can legally drive it. For more on that process, check out this article on registering a salvage car.

Normal Wear

This is a standard ad general designation of vehicles that don’t have much wrong with them. They may not be in mint condition, sure, but a vehicle marked with “Normal Wear” and without secondary damage listed typically means that there isn’t much wrong with it. If you want something that’s ready to go – click the “Clean Title” and “Run and Drive” options in your search results too, and you’ll have something that’s road ready, no DMV inspections required. A lot of repo cars for sale fall under this category, too, so if you’re looking for repossessed cars for sale from insurance auctions this is a great starting point.

Minor Dents/Scratches

This category is one step below “Normal Wear.” Like the previous damage category, if there isn’t any secondary damage listed and the vehicle is marked as “Run & Drive Verified,” it’s typically a pretty safe bet. Especially if the vehicle comes with a clean title.


Buying a hail damaged car can be a great investment. The damage severity is important to pay attention to here. If a car is hit in a hailstorm and every panel has minor damage to it – which most often is purely cosmetic – the cost of replacing every single body panel is enough to ‘total’ a vehicle even though it’s still mechanically flawless.


So, the vandalism category varies quite a bit. Sometimes a vehicle will be completely stripped, and it’ll be marked as vandalism despite missing an engine. Other times, though, it’ll just have a smashed window or it may have a damaged body panel: things that are easily replaced.

Front/Rear End

Like vandalism, the vehicles in this category vary widely. Front and rear end collisions can be catastrophic and the vehicle involved may be irreparable, but that isn’t always the case.

Start your search

You can narrow down your search by make, model, year, title type, damage type, and all sorts of other options on your search results page to find the perfect combination for your next vehicle. Keep in mind that this is a general guideline for vehicles and that it’s important to conduct your own thorough research for any salvage vehicle for sale before placing any bids. Have the vehicle inspected in person at the auction yard and get a ClearVIN VIN Check Report. Don’t forget to run a car VIN number lookup on any vehicle you’re considering purchasing, as it can reveal important information about the car’s past.

AutoBidMaster Staff Writer

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