When shopping for a used car, the status of the car’s title is critical and should never be overlooked. As the leading provider of pre-purchase car inspections in Northern New Jersey, we’ve created this piece to explain the difference between branded, salvage, and rebuilt titles. The information below will help you make an informed purchase before you commit to buying your next used car.
A branded title on a vehicle essentially tells you that the car has been in an accident or suffered some type or damage that led the insurance company to declare the car as a loss. When this happens, the insurance company issues an entirely new title for the car with motor vehicles, this one being the one that will be on the vehicle for the rest of its life cycle.
Unfortunately, having a car being hit with a branded title doesn’t always paint the full picture of what was – or is – wrong with it. The title could mean that the car is a lemon, has suffered water or hail damage, or even had the odometer rolled back. Two common titles that fall under the branded title umbrella are salvage titles and rebuilt titles, and the distinction between the two is crucial when looking to buy a pre-owned vehicle.
The Difference Between a Salvage and a Rebuilt Title
Although both terms are often used interchangeably, we recommend you know the difference between them. There are plenty of notable legal differences between the two, and assuming the same quality of vehicle out of the two is a mistake that can lead to buyer’s remorse if you aren’t careful.
If a vehicle has ever been an accident and labeled as “totaled,” or the car is worth more to fix than its current valuation, then the car would have a salvage title if it is to be re-sold. With that said, this title means different things in different states. Therefore, we recommend checking with your state’s DMV before you purchase a vehicle with a salvage title to find more detailed information about the state rules.
This title is issued to used cars that have been given a salvage title but were eventually repaired sufficiently to be road-ready again. The entire vehicle may not have been reconstructed or restored to its previous peak condition, however; all it means is that it has passed an inspection and can get you from point A to point B.
If you decide to buy a vehicle with a rebuilt title, we recommend having the car inspected by a mechanic before completing a purchase, because you want to make sure that the vehicle is roadworthy and that it hasn’t just been patched up just so it can be called “roadworthy.”