When Is A Car Considered A Total Loss In California?

At what point will your car insurance company declare your vehicle a total loss in California? Find out the formula for salvage value calculation here at WeBuyTotaledCars.

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Car accidents are an unfortunate part of being an automobile owner. Dealing with their aftermath can be tricky, especially when procedures can vary state-by-state.

We’re going to take a look at when a car is considered totaled in California.

Things you can expect to be covered:

  • The California Loss Threshold
  • What to do when your car is totaled in California
  • Whether you can keep a totaled car in California

At the end, you’ll find options for what to do with a totaled car that you’ve decided to keep in the Golden State!

When Is a Car Considered Totaled in California?

In California, a car is considered totaled when its actual cash value is equal to or less than the cost of repairs plus the salvage value.

The actual cash value (or ACV) is what your vehicle was worth prior to being damaged. The salvage value, on the other hand, is what it’s worth in its current, damaged state.

According to the California Totaled Car Law, the policyholder will receive the car’s actual cash value from the insurance company if (and only if) the loss was recovered.

Insurance companies in the Golden State are also required to pay the sales tax and title costs if the policyholder decides to purchase a replacement vehicle.

What Is The California Total Loss Threshold?

The California’s Total Loss Threshold is determined by the Total Loss Formula (TLF):

Repair Costs + Salvage Value ≥ Actual Cash Value

Under this formula, a vehicle is deemed “totaled” when the cost of repairs plus the value of the wreck as salvage is equal to or greater than the actual cash value.

This threshold is dictated by a few factors as follows:

Repair Costs: How much money it takes to get your wheels back up and running.

Salvage Value: How much can the insurance company sell my wrecked vehicle for?

Actual Cash Value: How much your vehicle is worth based on its year, make, model, mileage, and condition.

Let’s take a look at the example below which contains some numbers and see how exactly they influence the decision to total a vehicle in California:

Actual Cash Value: $16,000

Repair Costs: $8,000

Salvage Value: $10,000

Plugging each amount into their designated part of the formula, we get $18,000 on the left and $16,000 on the right.

The combination of the repair costs and salvage value after the collision exceed the actual cash value of the vehicle. This vehicle would be designated as “totaled” in the state of California.

person calculating total loss formula on calculator

What To Do When Your Car is Totaled in California?

In California, once your insurer declares your vehicle as totaled, you’ll receive a payout equaling the ACV for the vehicle.

The next step is for you to transfer your car’s title over to the insurance company, giving them full possession to then sell your car for its scrap metal.

Can You Keep Your Totaled Car In California?

Yes, you can ultimately decide to keep your totaled vehicle in California.

All that’s required is for you and your insurance company to reach a settlement and then you can keep the vehicle and do with it what you will, whether that’s sell it as is or repair it.

The totaled car will be branded as a “salvage vehicle,” so selling it as a drivable vehicle will be difficult.

You can have it repaired in an attempt to have the salvage brand removed and the vehicle re-titled.

In California, that process requires that you prove the vehicle is road-worthy over time before it’s issued a new title.

Can You Sell Your Totaled Car in California?

Yes. Once you’ve settled with your company over, you can retain ownership of your vehicle after it was declared a total loss. Once you have the title, you can sell it if you wish to a buyer of your choice.

Keep in mind that you are required by law to apply for a salvage certificate within the 10 days following the settlement.

Once approved, this certificate will be tied to your Vehicle Identification Number within the National Motor Vehicle Title Information Service.

California, in particular, also designates these vehicles with a sticker indicating that they have a salvage brand on them. Any attempt to sell a branded vehicle requires that you alert the buyer of the car’s current situation.

Nevertheless, it is possible for you to sell the vehicle title, and there are numerous buyers out there who would be interested in purchasing a car with a salvage branding. All you need to do is find one.

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WeBuyTotaledCars In California

Fortunately for you, WeBuyTotaledCars operates nationwide (including California!) as an online platform that specializes in buying less-than-perfect cars.

Our service representatives will kick back a quote for your totaled vehicle in 90 seconds or less and, should you accept the offer, connect you with a towing partner in your local area.

You can schedule the vehicle’s retrieval within 24-48 hours and it’s completely on the house — no towing fees of any kind. Also, don’t worry about title exchange fees or anything — we’ll cover that too.

Let us take the hassle out of getting rid of your totaled car and contact us today!

At what point is a car totaled in California?

In California, a car is deemed a total loss when the cost of repairing the damages to the vehicle plus the salvage value are equal to or greater than the vehicle’s actual cash value.

Salvage value is the vehicle’s worth post collision, while actual cash value refers to its worth before incurring any damages.

How is total loss determined in California?

Total loss in California is determined by the Total Loss Formula (TLF):

Repair Costs + Salvage Value ≥ Actual Cash Value.

If the sum of the costs to repair your vehicle and its worth as a salvage car are equal to or greater than the value of the vehicle before it suffered any damage.

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