What is a Branded 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.

, - September 28, 2018

A vehicle’s title is a document issued by your state’s DMV that includes information on a car. The title says who the owner is, what year, make, and model the vehicle is, and lists its history. When you buy a new car, it comes with a “clean” title. If something happens to the vehicle, such as an accident rendering it a total loss, the car’s title gets changed to what is called a branded title.

Should I Buy a Branded Title Car?

A branded title doesn’t necessarily mean a car is useless, but it does mean you should proceed with caution and do some research before finalizing the sale. Whether or not you want to buy a car with a branded title depends on a few factors.

First, you need to know what branded title is associated with the vehicle. There are many types of branded car titles you can come across depending on the state you live in. More commonly, there are rebuilt/reconstructed, salvage, flood, and lemon. But obscure titles such as bonded and junk can show up, as well.

If you come across a vehicle that has a clean title, but aren’t sure of its validity, it’s possible it could have a washed title. Title washing is when a seller re-titles a car in a different state that doesn’t recognize a specific branded title. Therefore, they “wash away” the branded title with a clean one. If you suspect this, make sure you run a vehicle history report, then get it checked out by a certified mechanic and body specialist.

Pros and Cons of Branded Title Cars

Not all title brands are the same, and some can pose a higher risk than others. Branded title cars might sound scary, but there can be benefits to buying one.


  1. Affordable – These cars are typically cheap, so if you need a vehicle to get by and are on a budget, a branded title car can be a viable option.
  2. A good project – If you’re someone who enjoys the challenge of rebuilding a vehicle, then purchasing a branded title car might be just the thing.


  1. Hidden damage – If you don’t have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic, you could run into additional damage after buying it and end up paying more to have it repaired.
  2. Safety can be compromised – If the car has a salvage title, one or more safety systems could be compromised.

Insurance for Branded Title Cars

In addition to all the unknowns, one of the biggest drawbacks is not being able to get full – or possibly any type – of insurance coverage, especially for a rebuilt or salvage titled vehicle. Whether or not you can insure the car depends on the state you live in, as well as the insurance company you’re working with. First, you need to know your state’s regulations on insuring salvage or rebuilt title cars, which you can check by visiting your state’s DMV or Secretary of State website.

From there, you need to look around for an insurer. Because most insurance companies are hesitant to insure branded title vehicles, if any coverage is offered, it generally is property damage and liability coverage. Liability and property damage coverage pays for damage you cause in an accident to other people or property. You probably won’t be able to get full coverage with a branded title car, so make sure you’re aware of what the liability policy offered by the insurance company covers.

The Bottom Line

If you’re interested in a car that has a branded title, make sure you know where it came from and exactly what happened to it to cause it to be branded. Look out for title washing, and make sure the vehicle you want to buy suits your needs.

If you’re in the market for a used car but worry your credit’s holding you back, let CarsDirect help. We work with a coast-to-coast network of dealers that specialize in helping bad credit car buyers get the financing they need. All you need to do is fill out our auto loan request form. Our service is free of cost and obligation, so get started right now!


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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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