Marissa Hayes is a technical editor and contributing writer. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history, and she was the editor of the literary magazine, The Bluestone Review.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Car Insurance Agent Daniel Walker

UPDATED: Feb 5, 2022

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The Short of It

  • Rebuilt titles are totaled vehicles that have been repaired
  • If you want a rebuilt title, you’ll have to go through an application and safety inspections after you repair it
  • There are risks to a rebuilt title, including lower vehicle value and limited insurability

What’s a rebuilt title? A rebuilt title is a great way to get your car back on the road after it’s been totaled. While it may lose value and full coverage insurability, you can still drive it on the road. However, there are risks associated with a rebuilt title that you’ll need to be aware of before buying one.

What is a rebuilt title?

When a car gets into an accident and suffers severe damage, the insurance company may designate it as a total loss. If your vehicle is considered totaled, your insurance company will no longer pay to cover any repairs. Instead, depending on your coverage, it may compensate you at the value of your vehicle.

The “totaled” designation doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to get repairs on your vehicle, only that the insurance company won’t pay for them. If you want to repair your car to a driveable state, you can still do so out of your pocket. To get a rebuilt title, you’ll need to do the following:

  • Make all the necessary repairs to your vehicle.
  • Apply for a rebuilt title in your state.
  • Pay the local fee to convert a salvage title to rebuilt.
  • Go through the safety tests to ensure it is appropriately rebuilt.

What does a rebuilt title mean? When your car is totaled, it’s considered lost salvage by most insurance companies. However, if you can put in the time and financial commitment to repairing your vehicle, you can get it back on the road. First, you need to make sure that the car is in working order and can pass all the tests required by the state government.

What is the difference between a rebuilt auto title and a salvage title?

A salvage title is what your car will have when totaled during an accident. Once your vehicle is labeled a total loss by the insurance company, it becomes a salvage title. Unfortunately, this means that the car can’t be insured or driven on the road in its current state. There are options to correct a salvage title, however.

When your title is rebuilt, it means that someone has put the time in to repair the car and put it through the proper testing. If you can get a rebuilt title, it means that your vehicle has passed all necessary safety tests and should be safe to drive on the road.

When you’re considering a rebuilt vs. salvage title, the main difference is the repairs and testing that go into turning a salvage title into a rebuilt one. So what does “rebuilt title” mean? Primarily, it means that you’ve repaired a totaled car to the point where you can safely drive it on the road again.

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What are the risks of a rebuilt title?

While it’s good news that you can drive your car again after being repaired, there are still some risks. For instance, the value of your vehicle will be affected across the board. This includes the car’s current value for selling, trade-ins, and insurance. You definitely won’t get the car’s value before the accident, if you can get anyone to take it at all.

Another reason that rebuilt titles can be risky include the undetectable damage that could’ve been overlooked during the repair process. Unlike other parts of the car, the frame is crucially important because it holds everything together like a skeleton. If there is damage to the structure, it could be overlooked during the repair process.

If you’re purchasing a rebuilt title, it may be worth getting a professional to inspect the vehicle before the transaction is finished. If you aren’t sure about buying it, it’s okay to back out and reconsider your options. While it may be cheaper than a traditional title, there may also be hidden dangers that you aren’t initially aware of.

How can I make sure that my rebuilt title is safe?

When you apply to get your title rebuilt, you’ll have to go through the application process as well as safety inspections. These methods will give the insurer a better idea of how your car will perform when you take it on the road. If your vehicle passes the required inspections and meets the financial obligation, you should have no issue getting a rebuilt title.

That being said, there are a few things you can do to ensure your car is safe. These include:

  • Getting a separate mechanic to inspect your vehicle
  • Looking up the safety inspection requirements beforehand
  • Making sure that your vehicle meets insurance requirements

While you can never be 100% sure a rebuilt title won’t cause you issues in the future, taking extra precautions is the next best thing. Having multiple professionals tell you that your vehicle is in decent condition should assure you that your car is in good driving condition.

What are the benefits of buying a rebuilt title?

The main benefit when you buy a rebuilt title is the value of your vehicle. A rebuilt car will cost less to purchase than one that hasn’t been totaled. According to J.D. Power, a car with a rebuilt title will often be 20% to 40% less than what you would pay for the standard model. This makes purchasing a rebuilt car good for those on a budget, even if there are risks.

How can I find out if my title has been rebuilt?

When you face the prospect of getting a new car, the excitement can cloud the more thoughtful parts of your brain. But taking the extra time to verify that you’re getting a safe vehicle can be the difference between you and an accident. Nothing would be worse than purchasing a car and finding out that it was totaled a year before.

To keep from finding yourself in that situation, you’ll need to check a vehicle history report on sites like:

  • CARFAX
  • AutoCheck
  • VINCheck

With these services, you’ll be able to see any registered accidents or totaled designations. To get this information, you’ll need the car’s VIN. This is a number assigned specifically to your vehicle and can usually be found somewhere on the front windshield on the driver’s side.

Can I get insurance on a car with a rebuilt title?

While you can’t insure a totaled car, you can get some insurance on a vehicle that has a rebuilt title. However, you should know that you will likely be limited on the kind of insurance coverage you’re allowed to get. The insurance company will probably write you a policy on a rebuilt title, but it’s more likely to be for liability auto insurance than full coverage.

If you’ve recently had an accident or other red flags on your driving record, you may have to pay more to cover that as well. Unfortunately, this can mean more expensive car insurance with limited coverage, which isn’t the best option for saving money.

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Rebuilt Titles: The Bottom Line

What’s a rebuilt title? A rebuilt title is a totaled car that has been repaired and gone through safety inspections to make sure it is once again safe to drive on the road. Rebuilt vehicles are often less valuable and qualify for less insurance coverage than standard titles.

Now that you know what a rebuilt title is, enter your ZIP code into our free quote tool to see what you could pay to insure your rebuilt title today.