Selling a Rebuilt Title Vehicle
You may find this Q&A section on selling rebuilt titles helpful not only if you are planning to sell a rebuilt vehicle but also if you want to buy a rebuilt vehicle and now research on the prospects of selling it later, or want to register your totaled vehicle with a rebuilt title.
Is it illegal to sell a rebuilt car?
No, it is absolutely legal as long as the vehicle was legally obtained and rebuilt with legally obtained parts. Please note that in some states only certified mechanics can fix a Salvage or any other vehicle with a Total Loss title so that the DMV later recognize it fit for public roads and issue a Rebuilt Title. What is illegal while selling:
- not clearly disclosing the branded title (Rebuilt, Reconstructed or any other) and the salvage / total loss history to the buyer
- not informing the buyer of airbag issues, like deployed of missing airbags.
- not informing the buyer of any unrepaired safety recalls
Rebuilt title disclosure in mandatory is all states. If you fail to inform the buyer of any of these facts, the buyer then will be able to cancel the deal or you may have to face a fraud charge and will have to compensate the undeclared devaluation and the loss caused to the buyer. The situation may aggravate if an accident occurs due to an undisclosed condition causing injuries or death. For isntance, an accident due to frame damage or if an airbag does not deploy.
If your purchased your vehicle already with a Rebuilt Title and then sell it, it's a good idea to check it for airbag deployment in the history if your did not check it while purchasing, and notify the buyer about the deployment if you detect it. Often, you cannot say whether the airbag is operable or not after a deployment, unless it is tested by a professional. And it is really good if airbags didn't have to save your life during your ownership of the vehicle. But if your buyer gets in an accident on that rebuilt vehicle and the airbag does not deploy simply because it is missing, a legal action may be initiated against you in the first place and you will have to prove that the non-disclosure or missing airbag was not your fault.
Although there is no law stating that driving without airbags is illegal, non-disclosure about airbag issues is illegal in most states.
Can I trade in a rebuilt title?
It is possible in theory and not prohibited by the law but very few dealerships trade in rebuilt title cars or the trade in value may be as low as its salvage value if you trade-in to rebuilders, which won't suit your if you invested in repairs a lot or bought it at a price much greater that its savlage value. There is a simple reason for that. For a dealer or a rebuilder it is easier to buy a non-repaired salvage and fix it rather than overpay for a rebuilt and get into the pain of figuring what was actually fixed and which problems were just disguised. A milk farmer buying a truck wouldn't pay for some milk of some age from some cow stored in that truck :).
Can you sell a rebuilt / rebuilt salvage car?
Yes, you can sell your rebuilt car, truck, pickup, motorcycle or motorhome as any other normal used roadworthy vehicle (As opposed to selling or buying a salvage vehicle, i.e. the one that still needs to be restored and registered, which in some states may be restricted only to licensed bodyshops or rebuilders).
It is easier to sell it privately with goood pictures and description of what happened and why it has been salvaged at some point. You have a better chance if you provide all the papers and receipts for repairs done and a VIN history report showing what happened. If you didn't fix it on your own provide the information on the mechanic's / car shop that fixed the car for the buyer to check their credentials. All these things will ease the buyer's concerns, show your clear intentions and that your are not trying to hide any critical information.
If you are not a dealer and know your vehicle inside out and is ready to provide all the information you have a better chance to win the buyer's confidence than a dealership, and sell at a greate price than a trade-in you might get from a dealer. In any case, the buyer will look for the information on a rebuilt vehicle. Knowing what is to be known from the seller up-front is beneficial for both the parties, saves time, nerves, establishes trust and increases the change of a successful deal. Lack of proper documentaion is a good reason for a potential buyer to discard your car.
Please bear with your buyers concerns and answer their questions because doubts and fears about how bad the damage was, how well the vehicle was fixed and how safe it is are healthy and sound.
How hard is it to sell a rebuilt?
Selling a rebuilt title vehicle takes a few extra steps compared to a normal vehicle because the Rebuilt title suggests a 'total loss' event in the vehicle's history after which the vehicle was reinstated on the road. Although the exact letter of law regarding rebuitl titles will vary from state to state, generally laws obliges the seller to make clear statement about:
- The presence of savalge / rebuilt / total loss event in the vehicle's history
- An airbag deployment in the vehicle's history or missing / not repaired airbags.
- Replacement of major parts, like engine and proof of origin of these parts. This is important as mismatching VIN and engine number may raise questions during state DMV inspections and some states are quite tough about this. This problem often surfaces during the inspection and registration of used motorcycles which are easier to steal and reassemble.
Please keep in mind that you will most likely have to sell you rebuilt vehicle privately, by listing it at Craigslist, for example, and make a reasonable discount. As a rule, dealers won't let you trade in rebuilt vehicles or trade-in value will be too low for your to agree.
What documents do I need to sell a rebuilt vehicle?
The same documents as with an ordinary used vehicle plus written disclosure of the branded title and the damage the vehicle has suffered, indluding airbag deployment. Every state has its specific form for such declarations and disclosures. Some states may require that you fill out some extra forms depending on such factors as vehicle type or weight.
The documented proof that the vehicle was properly fixed with legally obtained parts may be not required by the DMV if the vehicle already has the rebuilt title. But you will need these papers to show them at the buyer's request.
If you own a rebuilt vehicle, try to gather as much documentation as possible if you haven't done so while fixing your vehicle, such as receipts for repair works and parts used, description of parts and work, parts seller's contact info, sometimes the seller's license number. It is a widely known fact that sometimes totaling a fully operable vehicle comes as a total surprise to the owner. As a rule, this happens because the vehicle is depreciated due to age and carshops that fix vehicles for the insurance company use new parts and prices on some works may turn out higher than on other works or with other bodyshops. So, the insurance company finds it cheaper to pay total loss rather than repair. The owner may buy the vehicle back for the price of its salvage value, fix it really cheap, for instance, with used parts, register it with a rebuilt title and enjoy driving it. Even if this is your case, the buyer doesn't know what you know. You should provide a solid proof than nothing critcal happened to you car or truck in the form of VIN history report, damage description and repair documentaion.
If you want to register a rebuilt salvage / total loss vehicle, check requirements and paperwork for different states and make sure you have all the documentation and receipts for repair works and parts used. Rebuilt vehicles are thoroughly inspected for the use of stolen or illegal parts. If detected, these parts will be confiscated and retuned to the lawful owner or the insurance company. You will need all these documents not just to register a roadworthy rebuilt vehicle with the DMV but also to present them to the buyer when you decide to sell it later. These papers + a vehicle history report may be cirtically important for a successful deal. That's pity when a lost piece of paper ruins the deal.
If you are planning to buy a Rebuilt / Reconstructed car, truck, motorcycle, first and most important, choose a low-risk rebuilt vehicle that will be safe to drive and easier to resell. Ask the seller to provide all the papers and receipts for all replacement parts, repairs done, copies or, whenever possible, originals. They are the proof of the vehicle parts being legally obtaind and the works done. You will also need these papers altogether with the VIN history report to present to your potential buyer becuase your buyers will have all the same concerns as you have while buying it. That's pity when a lost piece of paper ruins the deal.
How to sell a vehicle with a rebuilt engine?
The law does not require you disclose a major engine repair. However, if you have a replacement rebuilt engine in you vehicle you will most likely be asked to provide proof that it is legally obtained by the buyer and during the inspection at the DMV.