Buying a Car with a Rebuilt Title

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Megan Foukes is a recent graduate from Indiana University who graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism. Megan works as a content writer for Auto Credit Express and contributes to several automotive and finance blogs.


, - May 22, 2018

When it comes time to buy a car, sometimes the best deals are found from private-party sources. But not all of these used cars are in perfect shape and some even come with rebuilt titles. But what exactly is a rebuilt title, and is it safe to purchase a vehicle with one?

Rebuilt Titles Explained

Before a car can have a rebuilt title, it’ll be issued a salvage title if it’s been declared a total loss. Insurance companies determine if a vehicle has been totaled if the damage is anywhere from 50 to 80 percent of the car’s value. Once the vehicle gets repaired and following an inspection, it receives a rebuilt title. Simply put, a rebuilt title is a title that states the car was severely damaged in the past but is now able to be registered.

Things to do When Buying a Rebuilt-title Car

Just because a vehicle passed the initial state inspection doesn’t mean it’s 100 percent ready to be on the road again. Before you go ahead and purchase the car, there are three things you’ll need to do to make sure it’s reliable post-rebuild:

  1. Ask questions – Ask as many questions as possible. You want to be informed about the vehicle’s history, so don’t shy away from getting nit-picky. Some common questions to ask are: How did the car get damaged? What percentage of the vehicle was damaged? What repairs were done? These are just the basic questions to ask, and if the seller responds vaguely or doesn’t have reassuring answers, you should move on.
  2. Ask for documentation – A car with a rebuilt title will have proper documentation that shows it’s been repaired and inspected by the state. Ask the seller for receipts as well, so you know where the repairs were done, when they were done, and who did them. If the seller doesn’t have any documentation or refuses to give you a copy, it’s best to move on and look for another vehicle.
  3. Get a mechanic and body specialist to inspect it – The car may look ready on the outside, but there could be damage that isn’t easily detected. It’s important to have a second opinion in this case, and it’s recommended you pay a mechanic and body specialist who handle inspections for vehicles with various kinds of titles. When the car is taken in for the inspections, make sure you tell them both that it has a rebuilt title. If any specific parts of the vehicle seem fishy to you, make sure you have the mechanic take a closer look at those, too.

Bottom Line

Purchasing a car with a rebuilt title may allow you to get a good deal, but there’s a lot of risk involved so you have to be extra careful. The most important things to do when considering a vehicle with a rebuilt title are to ask questions, get proper documentation, and have it carefully inspected by professionals.

If you’re in the market for your next vehicle, let CarsDirect help. We work with a nationwide network of dealers that have lenders specializing in bad credit, no credit, bankruptcy, and even repossession. Take the first step toward getting the car you need by filling out our auto loan request form today.

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Megan Foukes is a recent graduate from Indiana University who graduated with a bachelor’s in journalism. Megan works as a content writer for Auto Credit Express and contributes to several automotive and finance blogs.


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