There are a handful of ways a vehicle can get a rebuilt car title. Generally, to be eligible for a rebuilt title a car must first be assigned a salvage title. Salvage titles are assigned when the cost of repairing a vehicle becomes more than what the insurance company is willing pay. Vehicles with this dubious distinction are commonly referred to as being “totaled.” This could be a result of an accident, flood damage or even theft.
Cars with salvage titles can be sold for parts or as a whole, but are illegal to drive until they have been repaired. The only way to make a salvage vehicle road legal is to have it titled as reconstructed or rebuilt. Anyone wishing to make their own salvage repairs should be sure to save all parts receipts, as well as take before and after photographs to document the repair process. Be sure to check your state laws if you plan to incorporate any used parts in your repair, as they require special documentation.
Once the necessary repairs have been made, a rebuilt vehicle must be inspected by a specially licensed body shop. If the shop deems the salvaged car to be safe for use, the vehicle owner can surrender their salvage title for a rebuilt title.
Before You Buy a Car With a Rebuilt Title
If you are considering a buying a car with a rebuilt title, it is a good idea to first contact your insurance company to see if they are willing to insure reconstructed cars. A good second step would be to have the car inspected by a knowledgeable body shop as well as a good mechanic. Any information you have regarding why the car was first totaled will help both parties know where to look for improper repairs. Provided the car passes both careful examinations, there is no real reason a rebuilt vehicle can’t be just as safe and reliable as a car that hasn’t been repaired.
Some states have more elaborate reconstruction requirements than others; a little local research will help determine if your state has any such legislation. DMV.org is an excellent resource for basic research, but any in-depth questions should still be addressed by an official state employee.
Rebuilt vehicles can sometimes be found for thousands less than a car with a clear title. This makes them a good option for bargain hunters, and a great way to find a high-end car for a fraction of its original value.