Car titles are documents of ownership that are issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and which acts as proof of ownership for the holder. A car title contains information about the owner of a vehicle, his/her address, the year, make and model of the car and the date on which it was first sold. Whenever a vehicle is resold, the original owner signs over the title to the buyer who then registers the car in his or her name with the DMV, which provides a new car title listing him or her as the current owner of the car. Apart from ownership details, car titles also carry various terms that should be specially examined when you want to purchase a used car. Here, we explain some of the most commonly used car title terms and their meanings.
When a vehicle carries a clear title, it means that it has no other legends or sub labels and is not salvaged or junked. Basically this is the ‘no problem’ car title and the best one there is. When buying an old car, it is advised that you only buy one with a clear title to avoid any further trouble or financial losses.
Salvaged car titles have become extremely common especially after the recent large scale flooding and other disasters that have plagued the United States. If a car title brands the vehicle as salvaged, then it means that the car has been declared as a total loss by an insurance company or other authorities due to some accident, flood, fire, vandalism or other such problems. These cars may come back to the market after reconstruction and it is best to avoid buying salvage title cars. Branded is another title that might apply to salvage cars in some states.
Reconstructed titles specify that a car which was previously branded salvage repairable has been rebuilt, repaired and inspected so as to get back into circulation. A title that carries a reconstructed tag should also carry a sub tag specifying how the car was damaged, so you should look for a sub brand specifying fire, flood, theft, collision or theft etcetera with these vehicles.
Different states use different terminology to label rebuilt and reconstructed vehicles. If a vehicle carries a rebuilt or reconstructed title then this means that it is a salvage vehicle that has been put back in the market after repairs.
Other titles to avoid when buying used cars are junk, flood damage and hail damage. It is prudent to keep in mind that manufacturer’s warranties on vehicles carrying junk, salvage or branded titles are declared null and void even if the cars are within the warranty period. Rebuilt, re-branded cars are those that have previously been totaled and rebuilt with parts from different machines and other spares. These cars are best avoided at car auctions and used car dealerships. If there are other title terms that you are not aware of, then make sure that you clarify it with your local Department of Public Safety before taking a decision to buy.