How much does a rebuilt title devalue a car?
There is no accurate answer or a rebuilt car value calculator that could give you a precise sum or percentage. The rebuilt title always has impact on a car value. It's true for any vehicle type - truck, RV, motorcycle, bus, ATV and other. The value drop may be as much as 50%, but its not always that much and you may see it for yourself if you browse the inventory of dealers selling rebuilt vehicles. A rebuilt vehicle value is a '3rd-level-pig-in-a-poke' compared to a new vehicle. Lets see a little bit deeper into these 3 levels. It doesn't mean that a rebuilt vehicle is a bad buy, not at all. You just need to know what to watch out for.
First, some important concepts in the basement of Rebuit Title or its equivalents in different states. In the basis we have a 'total loss' and 'salvage title' concepts. A total loss vehicle is a damaged or stolen vehicle on which a total loss settlement has been paid to the owner by the insurance company because the estimated price of repairing the damage or compensating the loss was 70-75% or more of the vehicle's acutal cash value. Then the vehicle was transferred into the ownership of the insurance company and got a Salvage title / certificate. Driving this vehicle is illegal, it can only be towed. Then the vehicle is repaired, inspected by experts at facilities authorized by the state's DMV for these procedures and is re-titled with a Rebuilt Title, which reinstates its legal use on public roads and highways. It's hard to cover all the aspects affecting the value and how exacly it happens in just one article but you will have an idea. Just avoid water damaged vehicles and beware of vehicles with airbag deplyoment anywhere in their history, especially before they were totaled because its harder to estimate and impossbile to control repiars done that far back in time. Only a scrupulous and honest expert can tell whether the airbag was installed properly or not. And it a matter of life and death.
Now deeper into the levels.
Level 1: a normal used vehicle
Any used vehicle's value will be affected by a number of factors other than its age, although the age is used as the basis when calculating the value decrease. The average car depreciation rate is 14% per year with 10.000 per year mileage and decrease of depreciation rates with every year. Different models depreciate at different rates. Other factors include: timely servicing and proper maintenance, the area where the vehicle was used, the sphere of usage (rental, taxi, police etc), accidents and damage. During its lifetime the vehicle may be involved in multiple accidents and you won't see that on the title if the vehicle was not totaled out and/or didn't become the property of the insurance company. As stated above, the estimated price of repairing the damage is 70-75% and more of its value when the vehicle is deemed total loss. On a new and expensive car the damage may be really bad but it won't be totaled because, say, $20.000 of estimated repair expenditure for a $100.000 vehicle and for a $22.000 vehicle constitute different fractions. That was just the 1st level of complication. The good news is that today major vehicle history report and VIN check providers include service records and even give an estimate of how well the vehicle was groomed and taken care of and how well it rates against other vehicles of the same make/model/year. Service records are not always the same with different VIN history providers so its a good idea to get the info from all of them.
Level 2: Salvage title vehicle (due to damage or theft)
The escalation to the '2nd level' takes place when the vehicle gets totaled out. Here, you have all the previous issues from paraghraph 1 plus you know for sure that the damage has taken place and it was enough for that specific model of that age to total it out according to the estimate from a specific body shop the insurance company applied to. Different car workshops may estimate the same amount of work & involved parts differently. Some car owners are shocked when a bent bumper totals out a pickup they were planning to drive for years and years to come (in such cases some owners prefer to buy it back and repair on their own - and that's a separate case from vehicle history perspective)
Total loss occurs not always due to a damage but also due to theft. In some states recovered stolen vehcles get a Slavge Title just because of their total loss status. Such vehicles may sustain no damage but is still non-roadworthy unless re-titled properly again with a roadworthy title, with all the steps, paperwork and procedures necessary for that.
A savlage vehicle may be seriously beaten, bent or crashed on the outside or seem almost intact. Sometimes, the salvage title indicates the type of the damage the car has been exposed to. Flood / Water - really bad. Hail or Theft Recovery - good, may have no impact on its functionality and be safe, provided there was no other damage , etc. With an accident damage, its often hard to say. So, with a salvage car you may really need an expert insight and thorough examination to see how bad the damage was and how much it will cost to fix and maintain it.
Level 3: Rebuilt title
Take into account all from the previons 2 paragraphs plus you don't know how thoroughly the vehicle was fixed and the quality of the parts used. It is roadworthy now and is ready for you to drive it. A vehicle with a rebuilt title is not always actually rebuilt from a certain damage or even fixed, as with theft recoveries. But the delaers reselling them won't give them up cheap and sometimes the price may be dropped only by 10%! But in many states the obligatory inspection before re-titling a salvage vehicle is preformed only to make sure the VIN is genuine and that only legally obtained parts were used to fix the vehicle. They don't care about its value, wear, future expenses. Even safety is not always audited. The price for rebuilt vehicles is always higher than that of a salvage vehicles that need a lot of actual work and paperwork before you can drive them, but you can't say for sure how much value you get for that price increase. For instance, soon after a major part replacement, like engine you may fail to comply with emission standards or notice lowered fuel efficiency without an apparent reason. An odometer rollback may also be done by the seller after the vehicle gets a rebuilt title, even though it's illegal. And there won't be the Not Actual Mileage branding on the title. But a lower mileage is a reason to increase the price...However, a prudent buyer won't get deceived by an odometer scam. Today vehicle history reports + auction reports have enough mileage data to suspect and report a rollback immediately.
So, this was a very general overview of what you may or may not face. Please also take into account insurance limitations for rebuilt vehicles. The best advice if you are planning to get such a vehicle is to get as much info as you can from VIN history checks. On our website you can also find information how to read and interpret VIN reports with most profit and effectiveness.