October 3, 2023

If you’re looking for a new car, it’s important to make sure that you get one that has a clean title. But what exactly does this mean? In this article, we’ll give a definition of this term, plus the different types of title brands, and tips for dealing with mislabeled titles.

1. What Is a ‘Clean Title?’

Clean titles have not been branded. Titles are typically branded when something is wrong with a vehicle or it has been used as part of a commercial fleet. In the latter scenario, the car will not necessarily be damaged, but it may show significant signs of wear and tear. However, other branded titles are often associated with serious damage to the vehicle. We feel that cars with a clean title are almost always preferable.

2. What’s the Difference Between a Clean Title and a Rebuilt Title?

Vehicles with a rebuilt title can be in just as good of condition as ones with a clean title. The difference is that ones with a rebuilt title were once declared a total loss and had a junk title. This is not the case with vehicles that have a clean title. We often feel that vehicles with a clean title are a better pick than ones with a rebuilt title, but this depends on the circumstances.

3. Why Is a Clean Title Important?

When you purchase a vehicle with a clean title, you know exactly what you’re getting. The car hasn’t been damaged or used in any way that would make it appear different from the original manufacturer’s specifications. This means that when you get your car home, you can drive it straight away and be confident that there aren’t any hidden problems.

Without a clean title, there’s always the possibility that the vehicle has been tampered with in some way. It could even have a salvaged title, which indicates it may have sustained serious damage. These titles can be hard to come back from, so avoid them when possible.

4. Should I Buy a Car With a Rebuilt Title?

Rebuilt titles can come with risks, so you must understand precisely what you’re getting into before purchasing. Cars with rebuilt titles can be associated with significant damage and repair work, so do your due diligence when inspecting the vehicle.

If you decide to buy a car with a rebuilt title, get a safety inspection by a qualified professional. In some cases, you may be able to negotiate with the seller and have them cover any necessary repairs that are identified during the inspection.

5. What Types of Title Brands Are There?

There are different types of title brands, and the most important ones are flood, salvage, fleet, lemon, rebuilt, and junk. It’s important to know what type of title a vehicle has before you make the decision to buy. Here’s what you need to know about each of them:

Flood Titles

Flood titles can be found on cars that have damage, which was caused by sitting in water that reached the engine. Damage to these cars is often serious, but the extent of it varies considerably from one vehicle to another. In many cases, it’s best to stay away from flood-titled vehicles. The extent of the damage can vary considerably, so it’s important to make sure that you thoroughly look at the inspection report before you decide to buy anything with this type of title.

Salvage Titles

Salvage titles are typically found on vehicles that have been totaled. In most cases, the insurance company deemed the car to be a total loss after the accident. As a result, you would have to spend considerably more than the car is worth to get it into working condition (if it can be fixed at all). Still, they can offer an excellent source of parts, which makes them useful for garages and parts suppliers. 

Fleet Titles

Fleet titles are given to vehicles that are used for commercial purposes, such as limousines, delivery trucks, and utility vehicles. These titles are given to cars that will be able to perform the task that you are purchasing them for. In general, these titles are found on vehicles that are in relatively good condition. Still, it’s important to thoroughly look over the inspection report before you decide to buy. 

Lemon Titles

A lemon title is given to a car that has a serious problem that was covered by buyback laws. This can be caused by vehicle malfunctions, but it can also be caused by recalls of seats, airbags, and other important car components. The issues are not necessarily as serious as the types of problems that you’ll typically find with a car that has a salvage title. 

It’s important to make sure that you know exactly what is wrong with a vehicle that has a lemon title before you make the decision to buy. In some cases, the cost savings associated with buying a car with a lemon title could outweigh the cost of repairs. Of course, you’ll have to make sure that you’re buying from a manufacturer that you trust to be honest. 

Rebuilt Titles

Rebuilt titles are found on cars that have been rebuilt to roadworthy condition after having been considered a total loss. In many cases, these vehicles are in good overall condition, and they can potentially be a good choice for consumers. Even so, we still recommend thoroughly investigating to ensure that there aren’t any serious problems with the vehicle before you decide to buy. 

Junk Titles

Junk titles are given if the cost of repairing a vehicle is greater than 75% of its original value. In many states, these titles are only given to cars and trucks that are no longer considered roadworthy. Therefore, you can expect to spend a substantial amount of time and money to get these cars into working condition. 

6. What Should You Do If You Expect Your Title Is Wrong?

If you expect that the title is wrong, it’s important to avoid purchasing the vehicle. This is known as title washing. Title washing is done to pass off a car with a branded vehicle as one with a clean title. If you have purchased such a vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation. That’s because this type of scam is covered by lemon laws. You often can find out if your car has been title washed by looking up the vehicle identification number.

For more helpful information on buying a used car including questions to ask, things to bring, and more, consult our complete guide! Once you have found a car and verified that it has a clean title, apply for our instant approval, zero down payment auto loans.