About Vehicles With Rebuilt Titles

rebuilt car title

If you’ve ever shopped for a used car, you’ve likely encountered the “rebuilt title” label. What is a rebuilt title? After a vehicle has a salvage title (ex. it’s totaled), but then becomes repaired and inspected, it gets a rebuilt title.

Is it safe to buy a car with a rebuilt title? Can you sell a car with a rebuilt title? Is it the same as a salvage title? We’re here to answer all of your questions about cars with rebuilt titles so you can make an informed decision when purchasing a used vehicle. We’ll also cover what to look for, what to avoid, and when to walk away from a purchase.

Here’s what you need to know about vehicles with rebuilt titles.

What this article covers:

Common Questions About Rebuilt Titles

Will buying a car with a rebuilt title save me money?

Absolutely! Typically, you can expect a car with a rebuilt title to be priced anywhere from 20% to 40% lower than a similar vehicle with a clean title. However, price and value can vary wildly depending on why the vehicle has a rebuilt title. It is always wise to have a vehicle appraised before buying.

What’s the difference between a rebuilt title and a salvage title?

A rebuilt title is what is given to a vehicle with a salvage title after it has been repaired and inspected, whereas a salvage title is given to a vehicle that has been damaged to a point where insurance deems it is no longer worth the price of repairs (it’s considered “totaled”). In other words, once a previously salvaged vehicle is repaired and inspected, it is given a rebuilt title, which makes it eligible for registration to be driven legally.

Is a vehicle with a rebuilt title be safe to drive?

selling vehicle with a rebuilt title

Before a vehicle’s title can display that it has been rebuilt, the car will have been written off as a total loss by an insurer and issued a salvage title. This designation makes the car illegal to drive until it passes an inspection by a state official and the title is upgraded to “rebuilt”. Because of the inspection required to upgrade the title, a vehicle with a rebuilt title is considered safe to drive.

Can I insure a vehicle with a rebuilt title?

Yes, though it can be difficult and is typically more expensive. Because some automobile insurers will not provide coverage for cars with rebuilt titles, the ones that do provide insurance do not need to offer competitive rates as they do for clean title vehicles.

Can I sell a car with a rebuilt title?

You can sell a vehicle with a rebuilt title, but the process can be difficult at times. Buyers and insurance companies alike can be wary of hidden problems or other issues with cars that have rebuilt titles.

Questions to Ask When Buying a Car With a Rebuilt Title

  • How was the vehicle damaged?
  • How extensive was the damage to the car?
  • Do you have documentation of repairs?
  • Who repaired the vehicle?
  • Has the frame been repaired?
  • Has this vehicle been in a flood or fire?

Tips For Buying a Car With a Rebuilt Title

buying a car with a rebuilt title

Is it OK to buy a rebuilt title car? You can absolutely get a quality vehicle with a rebuilt title if you look for a few key factors:

1. What type of damage did the vehicle sustain?

If the car was vandalized or sustained suspension damage, it is worth taking a closer look, as these are things that are easily and reliably repairable. We nearly always recommend avoiding vehicles with flood or fire damage. A few key indicators that a car has flooded include leaves, mud, or sand in the glove box and/or trunk, a musty odor, wet or moldy upholstery or carpet, and moisture in the lights are good signs that you should not purchase a vehicle.

2. Who did the repairs?

If a certified mechanic did the rebuilding of the car, it’s likely that it will be in better condition than if someone fixed the car up at home with the sole purpose of selling it. Proper documentation will allow you to see what was repaired or replaced, who did the work, and when it was done.

3. What potential problems should I look for when purchasing a rebuilt vehicle?

Any time you see large dents or lines with kinks or crunches in them, you may want to reconsider. You’ll also want to check the airbag lights -if they are malfunctioning, there’s a chance that the car’s airbag was reinstalled incorrectly. If these things look good, make sure all doors, including the hood and the trunk, open and close properly, without big gaps. Ideally, the paint will match on all panels of the vehicle as well. If it’s off by a shade or two, it is worth a closer look.

4. Will I be able to sell my car with a rebuilt title?

Because of issues with inspecting and insuring a car with a rebuilt title, some buyers may be wary of purchasing the car from you. Additionally, many dealerships will not take a rebuilt vehicle in on trade, so keep that in mind if you choose to purchase and then resell a car with a rebuilt title. You will most likely need to sell the car to a private owner. For many car owners, this is not a problem, but it can make selling the car more challenging.


Always keep in mind that there are no guarantees with a rebuilt title -you may get a total lemon, but you may also get a fantastic car for a great deal. Do your homework and be diligent. If things all look good to you, then it is worth having your mechanic inspect the car for hidden problems. If they sign off on the car, congratulations, you’re likely going to get a great deal on a car!

Sell Your Junk Car in Chicagoland

Live near Chicago and looking to get rid of your junk car? Get your free quote.

CALL 773-939-3333