Used-car buyers should be confident about the condition of the vehicle they are about to purchase. Above all, this means asking one clear question to the seller of the vehicle: Has the car previously been significantly damaged in an accident? In all 50 states, sellers are required to disclose up-front information about a car that has sustained serious damage. In Arkansas, such a car is called a Salvage Vehicle.
A salvage vehicle is any motor vehicle that falls into one or more of the following categories:
- Has ever been submerged in water above dashboard level.
- Has sustained any damage in an amount equal to or exceeding 70 percent of its average retail value.
This law does not apply to motor vehicles more than seven model years old prior to the calendar year of the occurrence which resulted in the damage.
When a motor vehicle is damaged and becomes a salvage vehicle, the title to the vehicle is branded “SALVAGE.” Some of the vehicles are junked, but others are repaired and offered for sale. When a salvage vehicle is repaired, the brand on the title is changed from “SALVAGE” to “REBUILT.”
Usually, a prospective buyer does not get the opportunity to inspect the title while considering whether to buy a car. So, Arkansas law requires that a seller who is a car dealer affirmatively disclose that the car is a salvage vehicle by affixing a buyer’s notification to the side window of the car when it is offered for sale. The buyer’s notification is required to include information regarding damage sustained by the car and repairs completed.
If the seller does not disclose that the car is a salvage vehicle and provides all of the information required by law, the buyer can cancel the purchase and obtain a full refund. A violation of the salvage title law is also a criminal violation and a violation of Arkansas consumer protection laws. Any buyer who thinks he or she may have been sold a salvage title without the required disclosures should file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s office.
- Always ask the seller if the car has been damaged, even if there is no salvage vehicle buyer’s notification.
- Always have the car inspected by your own mechanic before you decide to buy.
- Always check the car’s history.
- If the car is a salvage vehicle, the price should be much lower than the price of a similar car with a clean title. Consider that you may have difficulty later selling a salvage vehicle and its value will be compromised.
- Report any suspected violations of the Arkansas Salvage Title Law.