Rebuilt Title: What It Means, Value, Safety
A rebuilt title is a branded title issued when a repairble totaled vehicle wtih a salvage title is fixed to a roadworthy state (if repairs are required) and the obligatory inspection by a certified DMV officer is perform to make sure the veicle meets safety standards and was fixed using legally purchased parts. Some states have different wording for rebult titles: Revived, Reconstructed, Restored, but the general concept is the same.
The decision on buying a rebuilt car is complicated and may even be risky for the following reasons.
Unlike a salvage vehicle, a rebuilt one can be legally driven on public roads. Formally, it does not require any further fixes. However, the title itself does not warrant the quality of repair works and that the vehicle is absolutely safe or won't fail in the future. On the other hand, the rebuilt title does not mean per se that the vehicle was severely damaged and or even has had any technical issues or physical damage.
The reasons why a vehicle gets totaled are numerous and the major criteria for the insurance company to deem one total loss is not the damage type but the ratio of the estimated cost of repair works the insurer would have to pay to the actual cash vavlue of the vehicle without any damage. If the ratio does not exceed 70-80% the insurer fixes the vehicle. Otherwise, the insurance company finds it financially sound to satisfy the total loss settlement and the vehicle is then sold by the insurer at a salvage auction. What basically matters for the insurer is not what happened to the vehicle but how much it costs to fix it and what the vehicle was worth proir to the damage / incident.
Now, important things:
Owners of stolen vehicles are eligible for total loss settlements. Often, such vehicles get a savlage title after being found and recovered even with no damage.
Vehicles devalue over years pretty fast, by 15-20% a year, while the cost or repairs remains the same. The older the vehicle the smaller damage that totales it.
There are damage types that do not affect a vehicle's safety or operability, like hail damage or numerous stratches. However, the cost of fixing them all would be really high.
The bottom line is, your need to know what happened to the vehicle and why it was totaled for a sober decision. For that, your need vehicle history check in the first place. Older vehicles that have been exposed to superficial damage are less likely to give you unexpected trouble than newer vehicles involved in a major accident.
What should I pay attention to in the VIN history?
Rebuilt vehicles with the following events in the history are the worst to buy:
- A flood damage in the history would definitely be a stop signal.
- An airbag deployment is a major concern. Please keep in mind that the mandatory inspection carried out before the vehicle gets a roadworthy status does not warrant that the airbags are operable. Inspection requirements vary for different states, sometimes they are limited to checking the basic functions, work of dashboard indicators, icluding airbag indicators (just light indicators!), and the proof that no stolen parts are used in the vehicle. The latter is just paper work and receipts as a proof of the origin of the parts.
- A severe accident with frame / unibody damage may significantly impact the vehicle's safety in many ways and that defect will be permanent.
- Junk record in the historysevere accident with frame / unibody damage . Such vehicles are not eligible for restoration, as a rule, due to severe structural damage. In this case a roadworhty status might be a result of title wasing .
Also, please note that an odometer rollback is not a reason why a vehicle gets a rebuilt title. If the title or / and the vehicle history state a Rebuilt brand on the title and mileage inconsistence, search for other significant issues in the vehicle's past, like accident, damage or theft.
Insurance for a Rebuilt Title
You should not experience any isses with liabilty coverage. As to comprehenive, only large companies may agree to provide a comprehensive on a rebuilt title becuase they are able to counter balance the risks at the expense of larger turnover. Even if your are lucky enough to find one you should expect the coverage limit of no greater than 50% of the ACV of the same 'clean' vehicle, larger deductibles and increased rates, sometimes up to twice as large.
What is value of a rebuilt vehicle compared to a normal vehicle?
As you can infer from tha above, a rebuilt car value is a complicated concept that needs an extire article with analysis. The value depends on a lot of factors:
- the reason why it was totaled
- damage type
- how much the safety might be compromised (airbag issues, frame damage)
- reputation of the bodyshop that restored the vehicle
- the origin of parts used in repairs, used or new parts
- the requirements of the state that issued the rebuilt title for the vehicle to be roarworthy
Generally, one should expect a devaluation by 50% while planning to sell the vehicle or trading it in.