Rebuilt Title – What Is It & Should I Buy a Car With One?

If you are considering purchasing a car that has been in an accident, you may wonder what a rebuilt title is. We will help explain everything about this title

Crashed Car

When you buy a car, you become a quick learner of the different titles. In your search, you might come across the rebuilt title. What is a rebuilt title and should you buy a car with one? These are valid questions that require in-depth examination before you purchase a vehicle.

In this guide, we discuss what a rebuilt title is. We compare it with the salvage title and show you whether you should purchase one. 

What Does a Rebuilt Title Mean?

A car with a rebuilt title was once considered a salvage vehicle. It has been repaired and has earned the status of being “rebuilt.” To achieve this status, the car must go through a series of tests to prove that it is safe to drive. The state DMV has to change the status from salvage to rebuilt.

The benefit of buying a car with a rebuilt title is that you know the repairs have been completed and safety checked. Because other people don’t want these cars, you can usually get an amazing deal. 

What is a Salvage Title?

A vehicle with a salvage title indicates that the car was determined to be a total loss by an insurance provider. The cost to repair this vehicle is more than what it is worth. A car with a salvage title is not meant to be driven on the road until all of the repairs are made.

You don’t want to purchase a car with a salvage title unless you are looking to rebuild it. Not only will you not be legally allowed to drive it until it gets a rebuilt title, but it will be nearly impossible to sell. 

Should I Buy a Car With a Rebuilt Title?

Whether or not you should buy a car with a rebuilt title depends on your unique situation and what you’re looking for. A car with a rebuilt title can sell on average for 30-50% less than a comparable model with a clean title.

While this savings is enough to appeal to anyone, there are some risks you must consider. You already know that the vehicle was heavily damaged at some point. There’s always the chance that some damages were overlooked and there are still problems. The chances of this happening with a rebuilt title are much higher than with a car that hasn’t been in a serious accident. 

You also have no way of knowing who completed the repairs and the level of integrity that was used. The quality might not be up to your standards, but it would be nearly impossible to figure that out. 

You could also have trouble insuring the rebuilt car. These vehicles are considered high-risk, causing you to put more money out of your pocket. 

RELATED: How to Get the Cheapest Car Insurance Rates Possible

Questions to Ask Before Buying a Rebuilt Car

1. Where Were Repairs Done?

One of the most important questions revolves around where the repairs occurred. You don’t want to find out that the owner’s neighbors’ brother handled the repairs.

These cars need to be professionally restored to ensure optimal safety. If not, it’s time to move onto another vehicle. 

2. Was the Frame Damaged?

If the frame was damaged, the car becomes unstable and unsafe to drive. It’s also difficult to know if these frame issues were repaired properly.

Because structural integrity is paramount for safe travel, you should avoid anything that has incurred frame damage. Even if the owner can prove that repairs were made, it’s not worth your time or money. 

READ MORE: 15 Questions To Ask When Buying A Used Car

3. Was the Powertrain Damaged?

If the engine or transmission were damaged, the owner probably had to deal with expensive repairs. To cut costs, it wouldn’t be abnormal for the owner to take shortcuts.

You don’t want to spend your money and have to put in another engine or transmission down the road. We suggest avoiding these cars. 

4. Can I Review the Repair Receipts?

Once you have gotten through the other questions, you can test the owner to see how honest they are. You should already know who fixed it and what major repairs were supposedly done. Therefore, you should be able to see all of the receipts further proving those statements.

With the receipts, you can see how much money it costs to restore the car to road-worthy condition. You can also evaluate the shop that repaired the vehicle to see if you are comfortable with it. 

5. Did You Get Insurance?

Before you pull the trigger, it’s helpful to know if the current owner was able to get car insurance. If they have had trouble, you might run into difficulty as well. 

It’s much easier to get insurance on a car with a rebuilt title if someone else has provided a policy on it. You could deal with the same company to make it easier or at least use the existing policy as a comparison point when you shop around. 

RELATED: How to Buy a Car Without a Title in the US

Can a Rebuilt Car Be Insured?

After discussing the final question with the seller, you might be wondering if getting insurance is even possible when the car has a rebuilt title. For starters, it’s impossible to get car insurance on a vehicle with a salvage title. These vehicles aren’t supposed to be on the road, so insurers aren’t going to take on that liability.

On the other hand, a vehicle with a rebuilt title is supposed to be repaired and safe to drive. For this reason, you should be able to get car insurance for the vehicle, but it won’t be as easy as you would think.

Some insurance providers will only put liability insurance on a car with a rebuilt title. You may not be able to get further coverage, leaving you vulnerable if a loss occurs. The reason that the companies deny comprehensive or collision insurance is because it’s difficult to determine what damage is pre-existing before a loss occurs.

If you are able to find an insurance company that covers you, the premium is going to be higher than normal. The company is taking on additional liability by covering you, so it has to make more money. You should factor in this additional cost as you look at the savings of buying a car with a rebuilt title.

Can I Sell a Car with a Rebuilt Title?

Before you purchase a vehicle with a rebuilt title, you must also consider how you will sell it in the future. While you can sell a car with a rebuilt title, the process is going to be more difficult than normal. You will need to get far lower for the vehicle than what it’s worth because no one is going to pay full price. 

To increase the chances of selling the car, make the extra effort to make the buyer feel comfortable with the vehicle. You will want to show the complete history of the vehicle with unwavering transparency. Don’t hide anything from potential buyers or you could get stuck with the vehicle. 

RELATED: The Best Vehicle History Report

You can print off reports from the DMV or do a scan of the vehicle history condition. You must also legally disclose the information related to the accident and repairs.

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