In Kentucky, salvage titles are issued when a vehicle has been wrecked, destroyed, or damaged and the cost of repairs exceeds 75 percent of the vehicle’s fair market value. Once a vehicle is repaired to roadworthy condition it is issued a rebuilt title. Kentucky issued 110,000 rebuilt and salvage titles in 2018. Over the 2014 to 2018 period, the number of rebuilt and salvage titles issued climbed 31 percent. The economic impact of rebuilt and salvage titles in Kentucky is considerable — approximately $331 million in 2018, based on data for the taxable values or sales prices of vehicles.

To document titling practices for rebuilt and salvage vehicles adopted by other agencies, the Kentucky Transportation Center (KTC) distributed a survey to all American states and Canadian provinces and territories. From it, researchers learned that Ohio has a very robust inspection program for rebuilt and salvage vehicles. The survey and interviews with Ohio personnel revealed that other states have persistent concerns about Kentucky’s rebuilt and salvage titles. In particular, some states do not accept Kentucky’s red titles (rebuilt and salvage vehicles that were transferred into Kentucky). Ohio inspectors have identified multiple stolen vehicles that had been titled as rebuilt or salvage in the Commonwealth. To improve the rebuilt and salvage vehicle titling process, state administrators in the Division of Motor Vehicle Licensing could consider implementing a program similar to Ohio’s in terms of technology, workflow and the inspection cost assessed to individuals or businesses wishing to obtain a rebuilt or salvage title.

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© 2018 University of Kentucky, Kentucky Transportation Center

Information may not be used, reproduced, or republished without KTC’s written consent.

The contents of this report reflect the views of the authors, who are responsible for the facts and accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the University of Kentucky, the Kentucky Transportation Center, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the United States Department of Transportation, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. The inclusion of manufacturer names or trade names is for identification purposes and should not be considered an endorsement.