The Difference Between Salvaged and Reconstructed Titles

Categories: Lemon Law

If you’re shopping for a vehicle, it’s always a good idea to run a vehicle history check on any VIN before you make a purchase. Doing so will give you some insight as to the history of the vehicle and its title, alerting you to potentially troublesome distinctions, such as a salvaged or rebuilt/reconstructed title. These distinctions could affect your ability to get the car registered or insured. Vehicles with these kinds of titles could even be unsafe to drive. By having a better understanding of what it means to buy a car with a salvaged title or a reconstructed title, you can ultimately make wiser buying decisions for your next car.

What is a Salvaged Title?

When a car is involved in an accident or is otherwise severely damaged and the cost of estimated repairs exceeds the value of the car itself, the insurance company will likely determine the car to be a total loss. At this point, the vehicle is given a “salvage” title, which means the vehicle is not road-worthy and will not be able to be legally registered to drive in most states. Generally, the only situation in which you’d want to purchase a vehicle with a salvage title is if you’re buying it for parts or if you own an auto body shop that can rebuild the vehicle so that it is safe to drive.

What is a Reconstructed Title?

When a vehicle with a salvage title is reconstructed and can pass state inspections for safety and road-worthiness, it may be issued a reconstructed title by the state. These titles are also commonly referred to as rebuilt titles, though they mean the same thing. The main difference between buying a car with a salvage title and buying one with a reconstructed title is that with the latter, you should be able to get your vehicle registered so that it is street-legal to drive. However, it is worth noting that you may have a harder time finding an insurance company that will insure a reconstructed vehicle, and you should expect to pay a bit more for insurance coverage because of the higher risk.

Buying a car with a reconstructed title can be a great option for buyers on a limited budget, but there are some potential issues to consider. For example, while a reconstructed vehicle must pass a state inspection to be considered safe for the road, these inspections are not all-encompassing and can only go so far, since the inspectors can only test and check for repairs that they can clearly see. Therefore, there could still be underlying mechanical issues that could surface later, and you will be responsible for these repairs. If you’re thinking about buying a vehicle with a reconstructed title, you’ll want to make sure you purchase from a reputable dealership that you trust to have made the correct repairs.

Of course, when you have a vehicle with a reconstructed title, your resale value will also be affected. This is something to keep in mind if you have any potential plans to resell the vehicle down the road.

Whether buying a vehicle with a salvage title for parts or purchasing a reconstructed vehicle to save money, it’s important to understand the differences between these title distinctions and what they could mean for your ability to get the car registered, insured, and driven safely.

In some cases, a car buyer is protected by California’s lemon law, one of the strongest consumer protection laws in the United States. While these laws generally cover new vehicles, they might also apply to your vehicle if a warranty is breached.

At Neale & Fhima, we handle Lemon Law claims throughout Southern California, and our attorneys have successfully tried numerous cases against many of the world’s largest vehicle manufacturers and defense firms. To find out if you have a Lemon Law claim, call (888) 559-4904 or send us your contact information online today.