John Smith · January 26, 2024

The Ultimate Guide to Rebuilt Car Titles: What You Need to Know Before You Buy

4 min read

Understanding Rebuilt Titles

Understanding Rebuilt and Salvage Titles

The difference between rebuilt titles and salvage titles lies in whether the vehicle is legally suitable for use on the road. A car with a salvage title has been labeled as a total loss, often due to extensive damage or when repair costs exceed its overall value. This status implies the car cannot be driven legally. A rebuilt title, on the other hand, means the car has had car repairs and safety inspections to ensure it's safe and meets car safety standards for the road again. While the car is roadworthy, keep caution when considering such vehicles due to associated risks.

{{{Show a visual Salvage vehicle = total loss and rebuilt vehicle was salvaged before, but is now fixed}}}

The Rebuilding Process

The steps to convert a salvage title to a rebuilt title are established to guarantee the car's safety:

  1. Repair the vehicle until it's safe for driving.
  2. Obtain inspection and certification from the state authorities.
  3. Pass all necessary safety inspections.

After these steps are completed, the vehicle can gain a rebuilt title and be allowed back on the road.

The Impact of Titles on Value and Insurance

A car's title type, including a clean title versus a rebuilt title, greatly affects its worth. Salvage title cars typically have values 20% to 40% below standard Blue Book® Values. Insurance can be more complex and costly, with fewer providers willing to cover cars with rebuilt titles, resulting in higher rates.

A rebuilt title car's value will be lower compared to a similar model with a clean title. The decrease in value can be significant, ranging from 20% to 50%.

{{{Show that comprehensive insurance for rebuilt vehicles is difficult to obtain}}}

Salvage Value Considerations

The salvage value is the estimated worth of a car at the end of its service life. It is often expressed as a percentage of the vehicle's original value, which changes according to the car's age: 20% for ages 1-5 years, 15% for ages 5-10 years, and 12.5% for those over 10 years. Calculate the salvage value by multiplying the original cost with the corresponding percentage.


For rebuilt or salvage title vehicles, it's vital to balance the up-front savings against possible increased long-term expenses like higher insurance rates and more restrictive insurance coverage by the insurance company, and lower resale value. Understanding the inspection process in your state and choosing cars from trusted sellers are key steps for those considering such a purchase.

The Financial Implications of Rebuilt Titles

Buying a Car: Impacts of a Rebuilt Title on Car Value

When you are in the process of buying a car with a rebuilt title a car, it's crucial to note that a rebuilt title can diminish the car's value by 20-50%. The reduction depends on factors such as the vehicle's condition and age. A car with a rebuilt title may have a lower purchase price, but understanding the complexities of car insurance for such vehicles is essential.

Car Insurance Challenges with Rebuilt Titles

Securing car insurance for a vehicle with a rebuilt title can be challenging. Many insurers may only offer limited coverage or exclude comprehensive insurance altogether. In cases where comprehensive coverage is provided by certain insurers, like Progressive, coverage options may be limited to liability only, increasing potential out-of-pocket expenses for any future damage.

How to Determine the Value of a Car with a Rebuilt Title

Assessing the value of a car with a rebuilt title involves deducting 20-40% from its Blue Book® Value. A private appraisal is recommended for a precise valuation. Maintenance and repair costs may be higher for vehicles with rebuilt titles due to prior extensive damage:

Car Condition

Average Long-Term Maintenance/Repair Cost Differences

Rebuilt Title

Potentially higher

Clean Title

Generally lower

Steps for Assessing Rebuilt Title Vehicles

  1. Research the car's history for unseen damages. Pay close attention to the safety features and quality of past repairs.
  2. Have the vehicle inspected by a professional. Look beyond surface repairs to assess the restoration's quality.
  3. Review the costs and options for car insurance. Expect higher premiums or limited coverage.
  4. Assess the car's value, acknowledging the influence of the rebuilt title. The market value will likely be reduced.

{{{Show a visual that rebuilt vehicle is lower upfront cost, but higher longer term cost}}}

If you still want to buy a rebuilt title, Necessary Steps Before Purchasing a Rebuilt Title Car

Informed Car Buying Decisions

Gather comprehensive information before deciding on a car with a rebuilt title:

  1. Vehicle Background: Research the car's comprehensive repair history using its VIN.
  2. Expenses Beyond Purchase: Look beyond the buying price. Consider potential repair costs and the impact on resale value.

Informed purchasing requires awareness of long-term costs, including potential decreases in value, spending on future repairs, and insurance hurdles. Factor in these considerations and expert guidance to ensure a sound decision.

Weighing the Risks of Car Repairs and Insurance

Consider the readiness to manage potential car repairs and insurance challenges:

  • Car Repairs and Maintenance: Not everyone is equipped to handle unpredictable car repairs. Assess your comfort level and skill in dealing with such risks before choosing a rebuilt title car.
  • Insurance Complications: Cars with rebuilt titles are deemed high risk by insurance companies. This view can lead to higher premiums and fewer coverage options.

The Bottom Line: Making an Informed Car Buying Decision

When interested in a specific car, conduct thorough research:

  1. Background Check: Use the VIN to check the car's full repair history.
  2. Immediate and Long-Term Costs: Evaluate not only the purchase price but also future repair expenses and potential loss in resale value.

In conclusion, the appeal of lower upfront costs when buying a rebuilt title car must be weighed against extra repair expenses, reduced car value, insurance issues, and resale hindrances. Consider expert advice and these factors thoroughly before deciding.