What Is a Rebuilt Title?

By Lindsay Kramer - Updated April 23, 2018
blue sports car driving on urban scene

When you're in the market for a new car and you come across a vehicle with a suspiciously low price tag, you could be looking at a car with a rebuilt title. These are vehicles that have been rebuilt after suffering severe damage, potentially in a flood or an accident.

Tip

A rebuilt title is a specific type of car title that signifies that the vehicle was salvaged and restored.

What Is a Rebuilt Title?

A rebuilt title is a title to a vehicle that’s been salvaged and restored to full operation. Definitions of the terms “salvage vehicle” and “rebuilt vehicle” vary from state to state, but generally refer to how much value a vehicle loses in an accident or another event, such as a natural disaster, that severely damages it. When a vehicle suffers an amount of damage beyond a specific value threshold, it’s written off by its insurer as “totaled” and issued a salvage title. When a car with a salvage title is rebuilt, it gets a rebuilt title.

In most cases, rebuilt cars have to pass state inspections to receive rebuilt titles. If you’re considering buying a car with a rebuilt title, keep in mind that passing inspection doesn’t necessarily mean the vehicle is safe to drive or that you can have it insured. Before you buy a car with a rebuilt title, always get more than one mechanic’s opinion about the car’s safety and reliability.

Is it Bad to Buy a Car with a Rebuilt Title?

Not necessarily. When you buy a car with a rebuilt title, you’re buying a car that was previously destroyed in some way. The riskiness of the purchase depends on how much you know about the vehicle. Like any other vehicle purchase, you’ve got to do your homework before you buy a car with a rebuilt title. If you are considering buying one, buy it only if you know and trust the mechanic who did the work to rebuild the car or if a mechanic you know and trust can examine the vehicle completely before you make the purchase.

A car with a rebuilt title can be a great deal. It can also be a dangerous money pit. If you’re mechanically inclined, a car with a rebuilt title could be a great choice because you can diagnose and repair issues that arise. If you’re not familiar with diagnosing and repairing car problems, you should consider buying a car with a rebuilt title only if you can be absolutely sure it’s a safe, reliable vehicle.

Can You Get Insurance on a Car with a Rebuilt Title?

Yes. However, you might have to shop around. It can be difficult to determine a rebuilt car’s value and beyond that, its risk level. It could be difficult to secure a full coverage insurance package if your car has a rebuilt title. Generally, it’s not difficult to obtain liability and collision coverage for rebuilt cars. If full coverage is something you need to have, reconsider buying a rebuilt car. In fact, shop for car insurance before you purchase a specific rebuilt vehicle. If you can’t buy – or afford – the insurance coverage you need to legally drive the car in your state, it’s not the right car for you.

About the Author

Lindsay Kramer is a freelance writer and editor who has been working in the legal niche since 2012. Her primary focus areas within this niche are family law and personal injury law. Lindsay works closely with a few legal marketing agencies, providing blog posts, website content and marketing materials to law firms across the United States.

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