Buying Salvage Title Cars: Are They Worth the Gamble?

With the average price of a used vehicle costing around $22,000 in the U.S. — almost $17,000 less than a new one — the idea of buying a cheap used car seems more than reasonable. Not only can you save tons of money to spend it on more valuable things, but you can also escape the never-ending rat race caused by the ever-growing prices in the car market.

But here’s the catch: the market of used cars is so mind-bogglingly vast and complex that it’s almost impossible to hit the bull’s eye with your car choice without extensive automobile knowledge or professional help.

In the following few paragraphs, you will learn everything you need to understand whether rebuilt title cars resonate with you or if you’d prefer clear title cars.

Navigating the Ocean of Car Titles: From Clear to Junk to Rebuilt

Before we move to the rebuilt title pros and cons, let’s zoom out and consider all the options you have. There are about a dozen categories for car titles – some are state-specific – that you can encounter on the auto market. The following are some of them:

  • Clear title: no damage and no loan;
  • Salvage title: heavily damaged cars that are considered a total loss;
  • Bonded title: problems with documentation. Usually indicates a previously stolen or heavily damaged car;
  • Lemon title: warranty defects that affect the safety of driving;
  • Rebuilt title: a repaired car that is safe to drive

As you can see, you don’t necessarily have to consider rebuilt title cars – there are plenty more options to choose from  – but these are still one of the most justified options. Read on to find out why:

Is Buying a Rebuilt Title Car Worth the Hassle?

All rebuilt title cars are repaired salvage title cars, but the difference is that the former no longer require a repair and, as being said, are ready to hit the road.

Now, buying a rebuilt title car is only reasonable if one or some of the following conditions apply:

  • You want to save money: Rebuilt title cars are priced at least 20% lower than their clean title peers. Under the right circumstances – and here, you will likely have to sacrifice something – rebuilt title vehicle can save you up to 50% of the price of a new auto.
  • You want to know what you’re dealing with: Every rebuilt title car has a detailed history of the damage and repairs, so you’re not buying a pig in the poke. This is extremely helpful as you know what you pay for upfront. Even if you know nothing about cars, the restoration history and some professional help may land you on the deal of your life.

Buying a rebuilt title car is a long-term trend in the United States – in the past decade, the average age of a light vehicle increased from 10.3 years in 2009 to almost 12 years in 2020 – but that doesn’t mean you should blindly jump on the bandwagon. As every bargain hunter knows, there are nuances to take care of before sealing the deal.


Why Buying a Rebuilt Title Car May Not Be a Good Idea

Every coin has two sides. When it comes to rebuilt title cars, you have to be ready to accept a non-zero risk of getting not what you thought you paid for. This unfortunate situation may happen for a few reasons:

  • Poor inspection: Even though salvage title cars must pass an inspection before they can be assigned a rebuilt title, there’s always room for an unpleasant exception. Sometimes, inspectors may intentionally ignore warning signs to push a purchase. In such cases, low-quality parts may be used in the repairs, and even a second opinion may not save you from it.
  • Shady history: The paperwork should be detailed and understandable, with all repairs properly documented. The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System can help you get the lowdown on your car.
  • Problems with reselling: Depending on the condition of your rebuilt title car, you may have a hard time reselling it at the price you bought it. Breaking even is out of the question, and in the worst-case scenario, you may be the last owner of the car.

With all that in mind, there is a considerable chance you’ll have a positive buying experience, as long as you proceed with caution and collect as much information on the car as possible. A carefully rebuilt title car might be your ticket to years of trouble-free driving at an incredibly discounted price.

About American REIA

American REIA is an informative network covering topics centered around various insurance coverages and policies. It aims to empower readers with all the information they need to make intelligent decisions regarding niche insurance offers available in the United States.