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Auction Tips

What is a rebuilt title?

Regina Minton
Auto Blogger
Last Updated 20.07.23

A rebuilt title is like a badge of resilience for a vehicle that has seen tough times but has bounced back. You see, when a car undergoes substantial damage, often due to accidents or floods, the insurance company may deem it a total loss and issue a “salvage title.” As such, the vehicle can be sold as a project car, for parts, or scrapped. 

However, if the car is lovingly restored to safe, operable conditions, it gets a fresh start with a “rebuilt title.” This means the car with a rebuilt title has passed certain inspections and repairs, transforming it from a wounded road warrior to a safe, reliable companion.

Now, here’s the difference between a salvage title and a rebuilt title. Essentially, a salvage title indicates that the vehicle was once considered a total loss. In contrast, a rebuilt title shows that the vehicle with a rebuilt title has undergone extensive repairs to fix the damages. The once “total loss” vehicle has been refurbished and examined thoroughly to ensure it’s road-worthy again. So, in essence, a rebuilt title is the vehicle’s ticket back to the road.

How do I get a title on a rebuilt car?

Alright, car enthusiasts, let’s break down the process of getting a title on a rebuilt car, step-by-step:

  1. Your next move is to repair the vehicle. Now, this can be a tricky process. It’s not just about fixing the car; it’s about restoring it to a safe and operational state that meets your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) standards. Make sure you keep all receipts and records of the repair process. This paperwork is crucial for proving you’ve used appropriate parts and complied with safety regulations.
  2. Once you’re confident that your car is in good shape, it’s time to apply for a state inspection. This inspection is important as it affirms that your car is now roadworthy. It checks if all repairs were done correctly and that the vehicle is safe to be on the road.
  3. After your vehicle has passed the inspection, you can now apply for a rebuilt title through your local DMV. The paperwork you’ll need typically includes your original salvage title, receipts of the repair work, and the passed inspection report. It might take a little while, but once processed, you’ll have a vehicle with a rebuilt title!

In conclusion, a car with a rebuilt title is not just any vehicle. Despite facing severe damage, it’s a car that has been given a new lease on life. So, it’s worth the effort to convert that salvage title to a rebuilt one, turning your project car into a safe, road-legal machine.

Should I buy a car with a rebuilt title or a salvage title?

Let’s jump into how you can benefit from buying a car with a rebuilt title. Now, don’t be quick to shy away from such a purchase; there are definitely some sweet spots to it.

Firstly, a car with a rebuilt title typically costs significantly less than a similar car with a clean title. It’s like finding a diamond in the rough; the car might have had a rough past but it’s been fixed up and is ready for the road again. And don’t forget, just because it was once a salvage vehicle, doesn’t mean it’s unsafe now. After being repaired and inspected, the vehicle has earned its rebuilt title, assuring potential buyers of its safety and operability.

However, do bear in mind that the resale value of a car with a rebuilt title is often lower. Accidents or serious damage, although repaired, can make future buyers skeptical. So, if you’re thinking about purchasing a rebuilt title car, it’s essential to weigh the potential savings now against your plans for the car in the future. If you plan on keeping it for a long time, a rebuilt title car could be a savvy choice!

Pros and cons of buying a car with a rebuilt title

Buying a car with a rebuilt title can be a mixed bag, offering both advantages and drawbacks. So let’s dive into it!

The pros are quite enticing. A rebuilt title car often comes with a significantly lower price tag than a similar model with a clean title. This can offer you the opportunity to drive a car you might not afford otherwise.

However, there are some potential pitfalls. Even though the vehicle has been repaired and passed inspections, there’s no guarantee it won’t have further issues down the line. It might require additional repairs, which can be pricey. Insurance can also be tricky; some companies might be hesitant to offer full coverage due to the vehicle’s history. And finally, the resale value is typically lower for a car with a rebuilt title, as potential buyers can be wary of its past. So, it’s always a good idea to have a trusted mechanic inspect the vehicle before making your decision.

What to consider when buying a car with a rebuilt title?

Before diving headfirst into buying a car with a rebuilt title, it’s wise to pause and consider some essential factors. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Vehicle History: Always request a detailed history report for the vehicle with a rebuilt title. This will give you insights into what kind of damage led the vehicle to earn a salvage title. Was it an accident, flooding, or something else altogether? The type of damage can significantly impact the car’s future performance and reliability.
  • Quality of Repairs: This is another key area to investigate. Who repaired the vehicle, and what parts were used? A professional, quality repair job can make a world of difference in the car’s performance and lifespan. Don’t shy away from asking for receipts or records of the repairs.
  • Insurance and Resale Value: Keep in mind that not all insurance companies offer comprehensive coverage for cars with rebuilt titles and those that do often charge higher premiums. Additionally, consider the potential resale value, which is generally lower for vehicles with a rebuilt title compared to those with a clean title.

Buying a car with a rebuilt title can be a great opportunity, but it’s not without its risks. Keeping these points in mind, you’ll be able to make an informed decision, balancing cost, quality, and future potential. In the end, buying such a car can be a rewarding venture if done correctly. So, happy car hunting!

How does a rebuilt title influence the price of a car?

The rebuilt title signifies that the car has a history of significant damage, having been declared a total loss by an insurance company, only to be later repaired and inspected to earn a rebuilt title. Potential buyers, aware of the vehicle’s history, often demand a discount, thus driving the price down. 

Although the car has been fixed and is roadworthy, there’s always the lingering concern about the quality of repairs, the possibility of hidden damage, or a higher likelihood of problems down the line. 

Furthermore, getting full coverage insurance can be tricky or expensive for rebuilt vehicles, which is another factor contributing to their lower price. So, while rebuilt titles definitely affect the price of a car, they can present opportunities for savvy buyers looking for a deal.

Key takeaways

Here are the key takeaways from our discussion:

  • A rebuilt title is issued to a vehicle that was previously deemed a total loss (salvage title) but has been repaired and inspected for safety.
  • Acquiring a rebuilt title involves repairing the vehicle, having it inspected, and applying it to the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
  • Buying a car with a rebuilt title can offer financial benefits, such as lower upfront costs.
  • However, potential drawbacks include the risk of future repair issues, potential difficulties with insurance coverage, and lower resale value.
  • If considering a car with a rebuilt title, always request a vehicle history report, investigate the quality of repairs, get the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic, and consider insurance and resale implications.
  • The price of a car with a rebuilt title is often lower due to its history, the potential for future problems, and potential issues with obtaining full insurance coverage.

Remember, while a vehicle with a rebuilt title can present challenges, it can also be a great opportunity for the right buyer. Always do your homework, and you might find a gem in a car with a rebuilt title.


Can you get full coverage on a rebuilt title?

Yes, but it can be challenging. Some insurance companies might hesitate due to the car’s history, while others may offer full coverage but at a higher rate.

Can you make a rebuilt title clean?

No, once a car has been issued a salvage or rebuilt title, this cannot be reversed. The car’s history is permanently recorded.

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

A salvage title is given to a car deemed a total loss by an insurance company. A rebuilt title is issued when a previously salvaged car is repaired and passes inspection, indicating it’s roadworthy.

Can you register a car with a rebuilt title?

Yes, you can. Once a car passes the state inspection, you can register it just like any other vehicle, but rules may vary by state.

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