Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products, including home, life, auto, and commercial, and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, mainly in the insuranc...

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UPDATED: Oct 19, 2021

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If you’re trying to save money or you’ve always dreamed of owning a vehicle you can’t afford, then you may be interested in hearing what constitutes a rebuilt car title. They are previously damaged vehicles that are ready to be driven again, and because of their history, they can be bought at a fantastic price!

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Due to their title, many people may wonder what exactly a rebuilt car is and whether they’re safe to drive. While it’s important to be cautious and to do a little research if you enter this market, you could find a great deal on a fantastic car. In addition, finding affordable coverage for rebuilt car titles is not as difficult as many people think.

What is a salvage vehicle?

Before a vehicle can be rebuilt, it was heavily damaged in a car accident or another type of incident like a flood, fire, break-in, or act of vandalism. Cars that are destroyed, or so damaged that they cannot be driven again without extensive and costly repairs, are typically assigned a salvage car title.

This happens when a car is written off by an insurance company. This means that the repairs that are necessary to get the car safe for driving again would be more expensive than the value of the vehicle itself. For example, if the required repairs will cost $4,000, but the car is estimated to be worth just $3,000 then the insurance provider will declare the vehicle as a total loss.

Some insurance providers will also declare a total loss if the car’s value as a salvage title and the required repairs exceeds the pre-condition value of the vehicle. A salvage vehicle may be worth several hundred dollars despite its condition, but if that price plus the cost of repairs exceeds the vehicle’s original value, a provider may still write it off.

If a car cannot be rebuilt into a car that’s safe for use it will automatically be declared a salvage title.

The regulations regarding salvage vehicles and total loss cars may vary from state-to-state. You can find out more about the requirements by talking with your provider or contacting your state government. For example, in California, the Bureau of Automotive Repair provides information about salvage car regulations in the state.

The insurance company will inform authorities when a vehicle has been titled a salvage car and it can no longer be insured or legally driven. Depending on the condition of the salvage car, it might be dismantled and sold for parts or left intact and put on the market as is. Only cars that can be safely rebuilt will be sold in their current salvage condition. In some states, you need to apply for a license indicating you intend to rebuild the car before you can buy a salvaged title.

Typically, cars that have been written off are sold to licensed salvage dealers.

A vehicle does not necessarily have to be seriously damaged to be assigned a salvage title. Unclaimed vehicles that have been seized or impounded may be declared salvage cars and sold as a way to help pay off storage fees or repairs. Of course, whether this happens depends on the value and condition of the car to begin with and the regulations regarding salvage titles in that state.

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What are rebuilt title cars?

Although thousands of cars are written off or are declared unsafe for the road, thanks to modern-day technology, many of them can be repaired and used again. Most cars with rebuilt titles are those that did not need too many major parts replaced or the damage was largely cosmetic. Otherwise, fixing the vehicle would be extremely expensive and repairing it wouldn’t make financial sense.

Once a salvaged car has been repaired, it must be inspected by a licensed mechanic or an automobile inspector to make sure it can safely be driven again. The state government will then register the car with a rebuilt title rather than a salvage one. The department that is responsible for doing this varies depending on where you live. For example in the state of Wisconsin, the Department of Transportation oversees regulations regarding rebuilt car titles.

What do you need to know about titles?

While you’re shopping for rebuilt cars, you may notice that sometimes the words salvage and rebuilt could be used to refer to the same thing. In other words, depending on the state you live in a salvaged car could refer to an automobile that has in fact been rebuilt and inspected. Alternatively, you may come across other terms like reconstructed, which may refer to a rebuilt car.

If you’re unsure of what a title means, contact your insurance provider or your state government to get more info.

Should you buy a rebuilt car?

Buying a car with a rebuilt title is a great way to save money, provided you know what repairs have been done to it and more importantly that it’s safe. Many people are hesitant to buy rebuilt cars because they’ve been damaged or written off in the past, which is why they’re much cheaper to buy. Depending on where you live, rebuilt cars can be bought at auctions, used car dealerships or individual owners.

If you’re thinking about buying a rebuilt car title it’s important to remember that you may have difficulties selling the vehicle once you have it. Not only do many drivers prefer to buy a car with a clean title, but establishing the true value of a rebuilt car can be difficult. So, if you were thinking of buying a cheap car for a temporary placement, keep in mind that you will have a limited crop of potential buyers for the vehicle later on.

You can learn more about buying rebuilt cars through online publications like Rebuilt Title.

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What precautions should you take when buying a rebuilt car?

While there are plenty of great deals to be had when it comes to vehicles with rebuilt titles, it’s extremely important to be cautious and to do plenty of research.

Although salvaged cars must be inspected by a certified professional before they can be assigned a rebuilt title, it’s a good idea to get a second opinion. Have the car inspected once again by another professional mechanic to make sure the vehicle is safe and there is no structural damage.

In addition, because the regulations regarding rebuilt car titles vary from state-to-state, it’s extremely important to thoroughly investigate the car’s history. You can do this by running the vehicle identification number (VIN) with an online service like Carfax. Getting a vehicle history report is an extra expense, but it could save you from disaster if the car hasn’t been sufficiently inspected or it was incorrectly titled.

For example, in one state the regulations to receive a rebuilt title may not be as strict as the one you live in now. After doing a VIN check, you may discover that the car was rebuilt in another state and still needs additional repairs to meet the safety standards in your own. In addition, you could discover that the seller has misled you about the car’s history!

On the plus side, you may also find out the car was never seriously damaged, and that it only suffered cosmetic damage. For instance, an older vehicle might be totaled as a result of something like hail damage. Minor damage like this can be fixed pretty easily and doesn’t affect how the vehicle runs at all.

On the other hand, the vehicle might have been in a major accident that caused extensive damage that will be expensive to fix. Water damage might not be visible to the naked, untrained eye. The important thing is to know what you’re dealing with before buying cars with salvage titles.

What do you need to know about insuring a rebuilt car?

Many major insurance companies offer insurance policies for rebuilt cars; however, finding a provider that will sell additional coverage other than liability insurance might be more difficult. The reason you can get liability coverage more easily, is that it covers damages to other cars, people and property in an accident you cause. On the other hand, collision coverage pays for the damages to your own car when you cause an accident. Some insurance companies are reluctant to offer this coverage for cars that have been heavily damaged in the past. Some will charge you a surcharge for insuring a salvage vehicle.

Depending on the type of rebuilt car you buy, you should be able to find affordable insurance for it, especially if you have a good driving record and credit score. Don’t try to conceal the fact that the car is a rebuilt title. If you’re in an accident, a provider could deny your coverage upon finding out the vehicle’s true history. Not only could you be on the hook for thousands of dollars, but also your chances of getting insurance in the future will be severely limited.

Before you purchase a rebuilt car, make sure you can get insurance coverage for it and that the insurance is not going to be so expensive as to negate any savings you’re getting by buying this kind of vehicle. Many state governments oversee insurance plans or enforce laws, which guarantee that people can get coverage for their car. If you have trouble finding insurance for a rebuilt car title, check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles or state officials.

How do you find the right insurance?

The best way to find affordable insurance for your rebuilt car is to shop around and compare the offers of several different companies. The most convenient way to do this is to use an insurance comparison website. Once you provide these sites with your general information, they will send you insurance quotes from different providers.

You can find the best deals on car insurance while you’re sitting comfortably at home.

Before you buy anything, take a minute to research providers online and see who has received praise for their customer service. It’s also a good idea to double check the website you’re shopping on to make sure it’s secure so that your info will be safe. Never provide your credit card information to get an insurance quote. Most reputable companies are willing to give you a free estimate!

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