You've found it: that year, make and model of car that you've always wanted to own. From what you can see, it's exactly what you want, and the best part is the price: It's a fraction of what you thought you'd have to pay for a car of this quality.
But as you look closer at what appears to be your dream car, you notice two words on the edge of the for-sale sign or the bottom of the online ad: "salvage title."
Your dream car just took an unexpected turn.
A salvage title can significantly change the equation when you're looking into buying a car. In many states, this type of title indicates that the vehicle has been damaged, recovered after being stolen or written off as a total loss by an insurer. In some states, a salvage title may prevent you from legally driving the car on the road and might even prevent you from purchasing the car in the first place. On the other hand, some of the reasons a car may receive a salvage title have little to do with its history, functionality or safety.
While every state has different regulations, there are a number of common reasons for a car to receive a salvage title. Read on, and learn how this kind of title could signal a red flag -- or a potential deal -- in various car-buying situations.