Rebuilt Title means that the vehicle has had a serious damage. You can safely buy such a vehicle only when you know what exactly happened. That is why it is critically important to check vehicle history by VIN.

Enter VIN:

(all vehicle types)

Is Rebuilt Title Better Than Salvage?

Rebuilt title is not the same as salvage title and which of the two is better for you depends on a number of factors. To start with, just a few facts about rebuilt and salvage titles, the difference between them and what they have in common.

  • The major difference is the legal status. Salvage cars are not driveable and insurable in most states, according to the law. Rebuilt titles are reconstructed or repaired salvage titles which were officially recognized roadworthy.
  • A salvage vehicle is not necessarily a severely damaged vehicle that needs to be repaired. It can be a theft recovery without any damage at all or have just external cosmetic damage. For example, dents from hail damage, numerous scratches received on a parking lot or multiple broken glass elements may be enough to total out a car, especially an older one. You may need to do no repairs at all or just replace the broken windshield or other glass parts, have the car inspected and apply for the new title - and most states will recognize it operable and mail you the new rebuilt title. On the other hand, a rebuilt car could have suffered a severe damage, especially if it’s a newer car of a premium or luxury class. Having a damaged engine, frame, transmission, brake system, water or fire damaged electric system, chassis, roof (particularly for convertibles) entails not just large repair costs but higher risk that the car will be fixed just anyhow to give it a decent look. Read about the value of rebuilt vehicles to better understand how it works.
  • Rebuilt vehicles are generally more expensive than salvage ones because they are supposed to be repaired (work + parts expenses).
  • Rebuilt cars are generally sold either by dealers or private persons who fixed them on their own or bought already in a rebuilt status. Salvage cars can be bought either at salvage auctions / salvage yards (cheaper) or from dealers (more expensive)
  • Salvage vehicles may be sold “as is” without any repairs done at all, or they may be partially or even completely fixed by dealers but still have a salvage title. Rebuilt vehicles are those that were fixed - it they had a damage that affected their operability. Needless to say, prices will vary and fixed ones will be more expensive. At first glance, salvage cars without any repairs seem to be the worst choice because they need to be fixed, even if they are much cheaper. However, how can one be sure that repairs done to the rebuilt vehicle are actually worth the price difference and that the vehicle is even safe and won’t con you a fortune to service?
  • Salvage and rebuilt title laws vary from state to state. For example, in some states, like Ohio, the only purpose of DMV inspections preceding re-titling is to make sure no stolen parts were used in the car. No safety or mechanical guarantees. In some states, a vehicle can get a rebuilt title only after meeting certain mechanical and safety requirements. For example, in California a special inspection certifies that brakes and lights are in proper operable state. In some states, vehicles get a rebuilt title after being used for some time in a salvage status and passing a few inspections. The latter, even with a salvage title, may be a less risky choice and have a higher value that an Ohio rebuilt car.
  • In some states there are age limitations for vehicles that can get a rebuilt title.

As you see, it depends on many factors and often it’s hard to say for sure which one is better - salvage or rebuilt car. Take into account the following:

  • How much of your time and efforts you are ready to invest into repairing, searching for parts or someone who can do it all for you, and, finally inspecting and re-titling it the car. If you have time, strength, skills, tools and possibilities or a reliable mechanic / bodyshop to fix the car for you at a decent cost, buying a salvage car can be a better idea than a rebuilt title. You buy it at the lowest possible price (sometimes just dirt cheap), know what you get and have full control of all repairs and investments. Rebuilt titles are more expensive but the quality and actual cost of repairs done and, accordingly, the value you get is always questionable.

  • The damage. The damage is always the primary factor when estimating the value, repairablity and safety of a salvage or rebuilt car. If the damage is from the light category, like cosmetic, stripped of parts or just a theft recovery, and you are not handy with cars and have no time and desire for fixing and re-titling a salvage car, buying a rebuilt car is a better idea. In any case, you’ll need to hire and independent mechanic to inspect it before buying.
  • Reputability of a dealer. Some dealers or body shops actually do a great repair job, even on totally wrecked cars. Some do just a great a rip-off job or buyers. A salvage title from the first type is a way better choice than a rebuilt title from the second type.
Rebuilt Title means that the vehicle has had a serious damage. You can safely buy such a vehicle only when you know what exactly happened. That is why it is critically important to check vehicle history by VIN.

Enter VIN (all vehicle types):