What is a Rebuilt Title vs. a Salvage Title?

Definition of A Rebuilt Car Title

A rebuilt title is a phrase that is used to describe a vehicle that previously had a salvage title.

Additionally it means that the car has been restored to a drivable and roadworthy condition.

A few examples of such include a natural event include a flood, tornado or a hurricane.

Additionally, car insurance companies will generally deem natural weather events as circumstances for a rebuilt car title.

Furthermore, a rebuilt car title designation is one that that as left a car completely totaled.  The car is also deemed too badly damaged to justify the repair expenses.

When the cost of fixing a car damaged in a crash, it may be a totaled car.

Once the vehicle is is close to the value, the car may be “totaled out”.

Generally, car insurance companies will do this method of “totaling the car out”.

This “totaling out” is written instead of repairing the car.


How Does a Rebuilt Title Work?

When builders restore a vehicle with a salvage title to working condition, they must have the vehicle inspected before they can resell it. In some states, a rebuilt car must pass a more rigorous inspection than one that has a clean title. 

In most cases, only a legally authorized inspector—usually a specially trained government employee—can conduct the inspection. The inspector may perform a bumper-to-bumper inspection. This includes testing the vehicle’s horsepower and examining parts such as lights, mirrors, tires, and wheels, along with parts permanently affixed to the car, such as bolts, brackets, and welds. The tests will determine if the car meets the state’s vehicle code.

If the car passes inspection, it’s viewed as ready for the road and eligible for a rebuilt title. The inspection and recertification processes, and the fees they incur, vary by state. After recertification, the rebuilt designation will remain with the vehicle to alert future buyers of its damage history.

Some states brand rebuilt titles with the type of damage the car sustained, such as fire, flood, or water damage, as is the case in Georgia. A rebuilt title may also indicate that the car was once considered junk, salvage, or that it was dismantled. Due to safety concerns, many insurance companies won’t provide collision or comprehensive coverages or optional coverages, such as rental car reimbursement or roadside assistance, for cars with rebuilt titles.

Laws governing rebuilt titles vary by state. Some states may limit rebuilt titles based on a reconstructed vehicle’s age or resale value. In Washington, for example, a car may only receive a rebuilt title if it is five years old or younger. 

What are some advantages and disadvantages of having a salvage or rebuilt title?

Purchasing a previously damaged vehicle can be a risky move, but if you know what you’re doing, it could also be a smart move. One advantage of vehicles with a salvage or rebuilt title is that they generally cost much less than those with clean titles. In fact, salvage or rebuilt vehicles generally cost 20%-40% less than the same type of vehicle with a clean title, according to Kelley Blue Book.

On the other hand, purchasing a car with a rebuilt title can lead to more costs in the long-term if the repairs previously made were not up to par. When you purchase a salvage rebuilt vehicle, you are accepting that extensive damage has occurred to the vehicle. In some cases, there may still be undisclosed or unseen damages that could arise at a later date.

Likewise, even if the vehicle has been fully repaired, you may have trouble finding insurance coverage for the car. In many cases, those carriers who insure vehicles with a rebuilt title may charge the same premium as a similar vehicle with a clean title, even if your vehicle is worth much less.

What’s the difference between a rebuilt title and a salvage title?

The main contrast between the two terms is the state of the vehicle. ‘Salvage’ is the term utilized before fixes are made – in other words when the vehicle isn’t roadworthy. On the other hand, ‘rebuilt’ is the status you’ll discover on a vehicle’s title after vital fixes and reclamations have made the vehicle to be roadworthy once more. By and large, a vehicle gets a salvage title if that vehicle has supported a specific measure of harm and is proclaimed an absolute misfortune. Ordinarily, state authorities or vehicle insurance agencies will demonstrate the vehicle is an absolute misfortune. In multiple states, a vehicle can get a salvage title if the vehicle is taken. Check with your nearby state laws. Despite how the vehicle is managed, a salvage title vehicle can’t be driven or enrolled. A vehicle is given a salvage title, whenever it has been harmed in a mishap, crash, or any other occasion.

A couple of times when a salvage title is given, the vehicle is normally sold and afterward scratched. On different occasions, the vehicle might be rebuilt, contingent upon the harm. Things being what they are, is a salvage title equivalent to a junk title? Garbage and salvage titles are not the same. Another method of saying ” junk title” is “non-repairable title”. States hold non-repairable titles for vehicles that have a lot of harm. In addition to this, there is no measure of fixing that can report them as drivable or roadworthy. In this way, there are just two decisions an individual has. For somebody who has a junk title vehicle, the vehicle’s parts can be sold.

The individual with the salvage title can likewise decide to obliterate the vehicle. At the point when you have a junk title vehicle, that vehicle must be for parts and maybe offered to a junkyard. A salvage vehicle can be set as it were again with the assistance of an expert permit vehicle rebuilder. A rebuilt title is a vehicle that has a rebuilt title is a salvage title vehicle that has been fixed or fixed. Before there is a change made on the vehicle’s title from salvage to rebuilt, the vehicle should pass an extensive examination.


It’s anything but a ton for a totaled vehicle to get adequately operable to get a rebuilt title. At the point when a vehicle is announced an absolute misfortune by an insurance agency, it’s anything but a salvage title. These vehicles are considered risky to work on public roads and the salvage title warns potential purchasers that the vehicle is seriously harmed. Salvage vehicles are regularly sold “with no guarantees,” with the goal that whoever buys one will probably either attempt to rebuild it or use it for parts to fix different vehicles. In the event that it is the former, the new proprietor can apply for a rebuilt title from their state division of engine vehicles after fixes are finished.

Some deceitful vendors may endeavor to shroud the way that a vehicle had been totaled by shipping it to another state, fixing it, and applying for another, perfect title — an interaction known as “title washing.” To help battle that trickiness, the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) offers free online assistance called VINCheck that allows planned buyers to check the vehicle ID number (VIN) to see whether an insurance agency has recently announced it’s anything but a complete misfortune.

Should I stay away from cars with a rebuilt title?

Generally, you should avoid vehicles with a rebuilt vehicle title. Despite the fact that a rebuilt vehicle title expresses that the vehicle is protected, there are several entanglements with this sort of vehicle. For instance, your rebuilt title vehicle might be running great for a couple of months, however, then you may start to observe a few issues later. In the event that you are a mechanic and are searching for a vehicle with extraordinary parts, then, at that point purchasing a vehicle with a rebuilt title might be to your greatest advantage. Regardless of whether you have an independent venture where you sell vehicle parts, purchasing a vehicle with a rebuilt vehicle title may help the business. While salvaged or rebuilt vehicles are modest or savvy, you must understand what sort of vehicle you’re taking a gander at, paying little heed to your motivation for and with it.

What Is a Rebuilt Title?

Most used vehicles come with a “clean” title that certifies the new owner is getting a vehicle that’s in good working order. However, if a used vehicle had ever been involved in a major accident, gone through a manufacturer buyback thanks to a successful lemon law claim, or had its odometer rolled back, it could come with a rebuilt title.

A rebuilt title generally means that at some point the car was so badly damaged it was declared an actual total loss—or “totaled”—by an auto insurance company. If that same vehicle subsequently goes on sale with a rebuilt title, someone has made the effort to repair or rebuild it. Depending on local laws, the repaired vehicle would likely have to undergo an inspection before it can be driven on public roads.

Take a Closer Look at Our Used Car Options

Our always-evolving pre-owned inventory is available for viewing on our website anytime. Of course, you can visit any of our locations to browse the latest used car options, too.

We make a promise to you with every pre-owned model. If you don’t absolutely fall in love with the car you’ve purchased, it can be exchanged for another used car within 30 days or 1,000 miles of driving. We want you to be happy with the car you’ve selected, and this is the best way to ensure that.

How does a rebuilt title affect the value of a car?

A vehicle having a rebuilt title will likely have a lower market value because it underwent significant damage. Compared to similar models with clean titles, a car with a rebuilt title could have 20% to 40% less value, amounting to potentially thousands of dollars.

How Can You Tell if a Car Has Been Rebuilt Properly?

There are a few steps you can take to make sure you’re not getting scammed. This also goes for buying a salvage car that you plan to reconstruct later one.

  • Rule number one: ask for every piece of documentation you can think of, including repair records, receipts, and the like. You can also use a specialized app such as CarFax or AutoCheck.
  • Rule number two: inspect the car. If you lack the skill and knowledge of a mechanic, find a trustworthy one and have him check out the car through a full inspection; this way, he’ll be able to pinpoint potential flaws and damage.
  • Rule number three: it’s also useful to find out how long it’s been since the salvage title/rebuilt title was issued, and if someone has been actually driving the car. If it has been on the road for a while without incident, then it might be safe to purchase it.

So, to sum up, making sure that a rebuilt title car has been repaired properly involves a lot of research and inspection. Better safe than sorry, right?

Pros and Cons of a Rebuilt Title

Despite their checkered past, it isn't always a bad idea to purchase a vehicle with a rebuilt title. Here are some pros and cons, starting with the pros:

Pros of Buying a Vehicle with a Rebuilt Title

  • The cost is markedly lower. A car with a rebuilt title should sell for considerably less than a similar model with a clean title will.
  • The damage may not be as bad as you thought. There are many possible reasons for a car to be declared a total loss. If the rebuilt car is structurally sound and simply needed some expensive new parts that the insurance company didn't want to pay for, it may be fine. But if it suffered more severe damage, resulting in, for example, a warped or cracked frame, it could be a gamble that isn't worth taking. Be sure to ask why the car had to be rebuilt and what was done to fix the damage, and also check the VIN at the NICB site. If you aren't an automotive expert yourself, consider paying a trustworthy mechanic to look it over for you.

Cons of Buying a Vehicle with a Rebuilt Title

  • Past damages can rear their ugly head later. Even if you tried to inspect the car thoroughly before finalizing the transaction, cars are complex machines and things can go wrong. Mechanical issues that appeared to be fixed could cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars in repairs. One type of damage to be especially wary of is flooding, which may not be immediately obvious but can cause major problems as metal corrodes. Consumer Reports has a checklist for how to spot a flood-damaged car.
  • It could be harder to get insurance. Your car might be in tip-top shape, but a rebuilt title can be radioactive to some insurance companies. In some cases, an insurer may refuse to sell you collision or comprehensive insurance, which cover damage to your own car, but will agree to sell you liability insurance, which covers damage you cause to other people or their property. Liability coverage is mandatory for drivers in virtually every state, but collision and comprehensive are optional.
  • It may be tough to sell. When you no longer need the vehicle or have decided to trade up, your car’s rebuilt title could scare off potential buyers.

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