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From time to time, your car’s performance may leave you wondering if it should be categorized as a junk car.

The term has taken a new meaning in casual conversations or moments of vehicular frustration. Rust, flat tires, and immobility aren’t necessarily accurate descriptors of a junk car, but it’s what comes to mind.

Numerous characteristics separate junk cars from cars that seem like junk.

Faulty transmissions that cause vehicles to jerk and stall out on the highway aren’t necessarily junk cars. Neither is an overheated truck that just blew and steamed. Cars with significant damage from an accident may be considered junk, but they may not always fit the criteria.

As a general rule, any car that has little to zero value is a junk car. When the cost to fix a broken-down car exceeds its market value, then a vehicle is considered a junk car.

California defines a junk car as one that has been dismantled because it was wrecked, abandoned, or inoperable. Cars on the fringes that nearly meet the general rules can also be considered junk cars.

A car in a severe crash sold by an insurance company to a dealer may have repairs that will cost at least 75 percent of its value. Cars brought into the market in this manner are declared junk and will be branded as salvage or rebuilt titles.

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