How Much Does a Rebuilt Title Devalue a Car?

How is a Rebuilt Title Vehicle Worth?

A study in 2015 revealed that a rebuilt title would lose around 66% of its resale value. That means even if you spend the time and money rebuilding the car back to factory-ready standards, you will only see around 34% of the wholesale value. That is an average, but it’s important to note that many factors will affect the value of a car with a rebuilt title. Other experts claim that the degree to which a car loses value after being rebuilt may be between 20-50% of fair market value.

Different types of vehicles will also fetch better or worse prices. For example, a mid-sized car or truck and SUVs retain a higher value than luxury vehicles. Take into consideration the age, make, model, manufacturer, and availability of the vehicle you are selling. If it’s hard to find a year/make/model, you may get lucky and find a buyer dying for that specific one who doesn’t care that it was rebuilt. 

Rebuilt car value calculator

Does such a calculator exist? There is no universal rebuilt title calculator, we can only outline a price guide, a few factors that affect value. It’s not so easy to determine the value of a car rebuilt title because the simple formula of the average value of similar makes and modeles depricated by a spesific percent won’t work here. Generally, the decrease in value will range between 20 percent and 50 percent. With every reconstructed vehicle the value drop is calculated individually and the estimate will be very proximate. It depends on a few factors, like using new or used parts (engine, transmission), whether all minor defects were repaired on not (some cosmetic damage may remain), the regulations of a specific state that govern issuing rebuilt titles and minimun requirements to grant the vehicle a roadworthy status. Also, you cannot estimate the quaility of the work done, only an expert can do that. For this reason, if you can get a great deal from a reliable body shop because you have relatives or a trusted friends there it’s a better idea to buy a car with a salvage status and have it fixed for personal use. The loss estimated, say, $3000 will hurt the value.

There is another factor affecting resale value of rebuilts. This is demand for specific makes and models. Some rebuilt models may be sold for up to 90% of KBB or NADA value of similar vehicles due to being hot in the market. While others not so much wanted models with similar damage may be offered for 50% of blue book value for weeks or months without success. Thus rebuilt vs clean title value and so price difference range may be up to 40%.


Try ‘s Salvage Title Value Calculator

Not every car is rebuilt from an accident. Picture a Honda that was stolen and recovered but the engine was missing along with interior parts and wheels. The vehicle is then salvaged off to a buyer that has another car just like it that’s crashed and is waiting to swap parts. The buyer will fix this car to have it inspected and change its branding to rebuilt, thus making this a rebuilt title car that’s safe to drive.

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How to Sell a Car With a Rebuilt Title

Selling any used car is tricky but selling a rebuilt title may be much harder. Most buyers want a used car with a clean title and no imperfections. However, some more discerning customers may be interested in the deep discount offered by purchasing a rebuilt title car.

Before deciding to rebuild a car and then sell it, check the Kelley Blue Book (KBB) to see what the vehicle is worth under certain conditions. That will give you a benchmark to know where you might be profit-wise.

The resale value of these rebuilt vehicles tends to be quite a bit lower than cars without a branded title. If you can easily absorb the loss, then it might make sense. For example, if you have access to a junkyard where you can get spare parts for free, you may end up making a buck or two on the deal. If you plan to keep the car, think about auto insurance and make sure you can get full coverage or even comprehensive coverage for it.

Consider your pool of potential buyers and set your pricing according to that. If you have a lot of interested parties, you may be able to price the vehicle higher than if no one wants it. 

How Can I Sell My Rebuilt Title Car Or Salvage Title Car?

Rebuilt vehicles are a tough sell on private car buyer markets. Professional car buyers and dealers are aware of the problems that come along with a car that’s been in an accident, so they always offer you much less than your salvage car is worth. You ought to consult people who buy salvage cars every day, and pay a fair price for them.

How to Estimate Value of Rebuilt Title

  • Rebuilt title car value depends on the damage done to the vehicle and age of the vehicle, remember this rule. The more severe the damage, the less the value. The term "total loss" does not necessarily mean that the functional damage was severe. It means that estimated repair costs are too high for the insurance company because they exceeded approximately 70% of its ACV. Multiple broken minor elements, dents, scratches, broken glass elements, tires, costly wheel rims, ripped out audio systems, etc. may run up really high – almost the full market value of older vehicles! But major functional parts may still be relatively or completely intact, and yet such vehicles frequently end up at salvage auctions.

As a rule, these are 5-year-old and older cars which were in generally good condition before being totaled but the cost or repairing minor damages was not economically sound because of its depreciation due to age. Such rebuilt cars are the best deals. Very often, these are hail damaged rebuilt titles. However, the price may be corresponding. Another good option is an insurance buyback. Very often car owners are surprised by the desicion of the insurance company to total a vehicle because of a damaged bumper, for instance. They prefer to buy it back, get repaired, continue driving and win financially. As a rule, such vehicles are sold privately and you can get a good discount because the owner himself not just didn’t have to overpay but even could have won extra cash.

The newer the salvaged car, the more severe the damage. This method of defining the value of a rebuilt salvage works for any vehicle – a car, a motorcycle, a motorhome, a truck.

  • To start with, buy a detailed car history report to know as much as possible about the damage and the vehicle’s journey to the seller. Make sure the damage is not serious and the car didn’t change states before it was given a rebuilt title (cars with a serious damage not eligible for reconstruction in one state may be eligible in another state!). Ask questions, get documents, just learn as much as possible about the damage and match data obtained from different sources.
  • If the history checks out and agrees with other information you obtain, hire a mechanic to inspect the car and ask him to make a full list of what needs to be repaired or replaced right now, what will need to be repaired soon and what is out of order. Take into account all this when estimating rebuilt car value and bargaining. Make sure all the calculated costs plus purchase price don’t exceed the cost of a similar non-rebuilt car – that does happen. And only then make your decision.

So, if you asked me how much does a rebuilt title affect value my answer would be it’s not rebuilt title but the damage and age that have major effect on the value. The term ‘rebuilt title’ is not enough for proper estimate.

Part 2 of 4: Find the retail and trade-in value of the car

Step 4: Check NADA for your car value. Check the N

Step 4: Check NADA for your car value. Check the National Automobile Dealers Association or NADA guide for the market value of your make, model and year.

NADA will give you values for rough, average, and clean trade-ins, as well as for clean retails.

Step 5: Compare the value with Check with for the retail and trade-in values of your car.

  • Tip: While the exact numbers may vary a little, they should be fairly close to each other.

Choose the most conservative numbers for your calculations.

Step 6: Calculate market value. Calculate the market value by adding the retail and trade-in value from one source and dividing by two.

For example, the retail value of your car is $8,000 and the trade-in value is $6,000. Add these two numbers together to get $14,000. Divide by 2 and your market value is $7,000.

How does a car get a salvage or rebuilt title?

If a vehicle incurs extensive damage with repairs totaling between 70%-90% of the car’s value, then the insurance company may deem the car as a total loss. Once that determination has been made, a state motor vehicle agency changes the car’s title from clean to either salvage or junk. After being presented with a salvage title, you cannot drive, sell or register the vehicle until it has been repaired.

At this point, the salvage vehicle is typically sold by the insurer to a third party interested in repairing the vehicle or breaking it down for parts. If the vehicle is repaired, it will need to pass safety requirements before being given a rebuilt title by the state’s motor vehicle agency. By giving the repaired vehicle a rebuilt title, this provides the buyer more information about its history.

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Whats A Rebuilt Title?

A car is given a rebuilt title when it has at one time been determined as a salvage title car, but has now been repaired to a safely operable condition. Once a state assessor is able to determine that the formerly salvaged vehicle is street worthy, then the rebuilt title is granted, and the aforementioned vehicle is now ready to be put on the market.

If you want to determine what constitutes the make-up of a salvage title car, you can access that information on your states local DMV website.

Whats The Difference Between Rebuilt Title Salvage Title

One definition of a salvage title for a car is one that’s been an accident and is now considered worthless by an insurance company. Meaning you shouldn’t bother repairing it, the vehicle is now a total loss. This definition isn’t universal, by any means. Different states have different laws as to what makes up a salvage title. All of the information as to what your specific state uses to comprise a salvage title should be available on your local DMV’s website.

When a rebuilt title is determined for a car, that means it used to have a salvage title, but has been restored to a safe and street-legal condition. This doesn’t mean that every part of the car has been replaced, but that it’s been inspected by a professional from the state, and deemed legally functional for driving.

The differences may sound subtle, but they will be important in any future assessments of a car’s value.

Frequently asked questions

What’s required to have my car earn a rebuilt title?

Each state has its own regulations, with some being more stringent than others. The best approach is to contact your state’s motor vehicles department to learn the process of obtaining a rebuilt title.

Is a salvage titled vehicle right for me?

If you are an experienced mechanic or know one who can do great work inexpensively, then a salvage titled vehicle could be a great buy.

What should I look for when buying a vehicle with a rebuilt title?

First, check the vehicle’s history through Carfax or a similar service to determine what caused the salvage title status. In a few states like Ohio, something as innocuous as an abandoned vehicle could earn the salvage title distinction.

Next, see if you can determine who did the repair work and the quality of their work. Research them online, noting Google consumer reviews, their Better Business Bureau report and any complaints filed with your state’s office of consumer affairs to see if they are well-rated and reputable. Taking these steps will help make the process smoother if you are interested in purchasing a vehicle with a rebuilt title.