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What’s a Rebuilt Title? Should You Buy or Avoid These Used Cars?

last updated September 12, 2018 by

Have you ever spotted a sign that says, rebuilt title cars for sale, and wondered what that means? It refers to a car that’s restored after losing more than 50% of its value in an accident. Falling objects, adverse weather, and riots also fall in the same list as accidents. However, each federal state has its own definition of repaired titles.

First-time car buyers who just want basic and highly affordable cars prefer these cars. However, it’s wrong to assume that all used cars have a similar quality. Today, you’ll learn all about rebuilt titles and whether they’re worth it.

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1. Should I buy a car with a rebuilt title?

Here are 10 factors you should consider before making a purchase.

should I buy a car with a rebuilt title

1. Rebuilt title insurance

The lure of saving thousands of dollars is appealing to buyers in need of cars. However, the new car owner will encounter rejection from several insurance companies. Why? Because it’s difficult to assess the true value of rebuilt cars. One would have to dismantle the entire car to check the real value of replacements.

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If the car burst into flames or got swept in floods, it’s bound to develop serious mechanical issues a couple of years after restoring it. That’s why car insurance companies won’t want to overcompensate you for a car that can give up the ghost at any moment.

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What is liability insurance?

Due to the issues with valuation and high risk of mechanical failure, buying this type of car limits you to apply for a liability insurance cover. It’s whereby your insurance company provides compensation to other drivers when you’re responsible for causing a collision. It also covers any property damaged inside the third party’s car.

Auto insurance companies cannot provide you with a comprehensive plan because they risk losing money in the event of compensation. If a tree fell on your hood and the car stopped working, you’ll file for a brand new engine. However, an issue would arise since your car has a renovated one.

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The list of requirements

  1. Pictures of your car – Why do insurance companies request for close up photos of your car? It helps them to spot any dents, scratches, and missing parts. It discourages dishonest motorists from filing for false compensations because the insurance company already has valid proof of previous deformities.
  2. Certified mechanic’s statement – Car insurance companies need verification from a qualified and registered auto mechanic shop for repaired titles. Just like a doctor’s letter, car insurance providers trust certified mechanics’ statements as proof of roadworthiness.
  3. The repair estimate – A certified mechanic prepares this document to show all recorded damages and repairs that took place. You’ll see the nature of the accident and extent of damage on affected car parts. A repair estimate also indicates previous damages that existed before the devastating accident.

2. The car rebuilder’s reputation

There’s no special license required to rebuild a scorched engine or dented hood. That’s why you’ll find hundreds of car rebuilding advertisements online. However, good car renovators remain popular in the market due to offering quality services. Customers drive away happy because they’re confident that the mechanic used genuine parts and took a lot of time on each car.

Tips:

You can ask your dad or older uncles to recommend a car dealership with good rebuilt motor vehicles. Find out who does renovation for your local car dealership then check their reputation on online car forums.

3. The car’s age

When you use a car daily for five years, the effects of wear and tear set in. The engine may produce strange noises because certain engine parts cannot rotate efficiently due to worn out threads. If the car got into a major accident at an advanced age, you shouldn’t risk your money.

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Auto manufacturers phase out car models after a period of approximately five years. They do this to pave way for cars that match current market needs. Owning a car that’s about to get phased out is stressful because auto manufacturer spare parts are hard to find. If you get a seller, they either overprice or sell used auto parts.

4. Resale value

How long are you planning to own the car? If you’re looking to upgrade to a better one, you need a car that’s valuable enough to boost your future down payment. You don’t want to have a renovated car you don’t like occupying your garage for no reason while saving up for a new one.

If you plan to sell the car after a certain period, you’ll need to buy a car produced in the past 24 months. Why? Because it contains most features that are hot in today’s market. Plus, you’ll find genuine spare parts countrywide at affordable prices.

In order to get the best price for your car, you’ll have to figure out how much it costs to maintain your car in excellent condition.

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5. Freedom to do your own car inspection

If you’re planning to buy the car from a private seller, make sure they provide the repair estimate. Make a copy so you can counter check it with your mechanic’s observations. The seller should be willing to go for a long test drive because you’ll have to do fluid tests to check for leaking parts.

Your test drive should include a stopover at a trusted auto mechanic. Why? Because you need someone to have a closer inspection by dismantling the engine to see verify the repair estimate. You’ll also find out if the seller kept silent about other mechanical problems.

6. Car model

When you look at the most popular affordable car brands in the past 50 years, you’ll notice that Ford and Toyota always appear in the top five list. It’s not because these auto manufacturers have the best advertisements or lowest car prices. Their secret to global success is consistently producing high-quality motor vehicles.

It’s no secret that some car brands just suck. When you visit online forums for cars, you see several conversation threads of people complaining about a similar problem regarding a particular model. This is common with Chinese-manufactured cars because manufacturers use inferior material and shoddy assembly.

7. Your lifestyle

Careers influence car-purchasing decisions. Farmers own four-wheel-drive pickup trucks to enable them to navigate muddy roads. If you run a small bakery, you need a station wagon or minivan that enables you to make several deliveries and still double up as your family car.

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Some people spend their weekends taking long drives on scenic roads. One needs a car that has an economical fuel consumption rate to sustain this leisure activity. The motor vehicle should also have a large fuel tank so that you can drive for several hours nonstop. Plus, the radiators shouldn’t overheat frequently.

8. Product life of replaced parts

A good mechanic will use genuine and new spare parts to restore un-roadworthy cars. Using genuine components extends the life of a retitled motor vehicle. This high quality helps you to keep the car for a longer period and avoid recurring mechanical issues.

Check the spare parts’ product life cycles before buying a retitled car. Product life refers to how long an auto manufacturer intends on making and selling a certain item. It’s important because you want to purchase genuine parts conveniently at your local auto mechanic shop. When an auto manufacturer is about to phase out a certain car, it ceases producing spare parts.

9. Costs of importing a rebuilt car

People import cars due to two common reasons. It helps them to own cars that aren’t available in local markets. For instance, a newly released European-manufactured sedan that will hit the American market one year later. Car buyers also import vehicles if the local prices are too expensive to the point where one saves a lot of money by importing.

On the other hand, importing a car from a private seller based overseas has its fair share of risks. It’s rare to find someone who’s 100% honest about the damages sustained by his or her vehicle. You also have to go to the DMV and apply for inspection.

10. Availability of rebuilt title loans

Can you get an auto loan for a rebuilt title? Yes, you can. Plus, you’re almost certain of getting a good car from car dealerships because they have specialized mechanics to repair and inspect newly restored motor vehicles. They’re also very affordable due to the low prices.

Make sure you obtain copies of the certified mechanic’s statement to verify whether the car is roadworthy. If you’re satisfied with the quality, pay a huge down payment to lower your car payments. Choose a short repayment period to avoid paying a lot of interest on a renovated car.

2. How to inspect a car with a repaired title

1. Car Tires

A roadworthy car has a set of good tires. If you notice the bald tires, then you’re almost certain that the car has several issues that will cost you a lot of money. You can check the depth of the car treads by using a penny. Hold it upside down then insert it between two tire treads. If the treads cover at least half of Abraham Lincoln’s face, the tires are road worthy.

Also, inspect thoroughly for any cuts or bumps. You’ll need a car jack and some jack stands to elevate your car so you can rotate the tires without having to remove them. Remember to check the valve stems to see whether they’re leaking.

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2. Engine

The engine is very important because it determines your recurring car expenses and safety when driving. Before going on a test drive, pop the hood and open the head gasket. If you see any frothy liquids, tell the car owner to replace his or her leaking head gasket before taking your money.

Next, check the engine’s coolant quality and quantity. You should see a bright colored spotless fluid. Any blackish spots you might see indicate contamination due to a leak in the head gasket. The fluid level should be at least two inches above the line.

3. Suspension

The good news is that you don’t have to remove your tires to assess your car’s suspension. Simply get into the driver’s seat and turn on your engine. Do not start the car because you just want to unlock the wheel. Now make a hard right then a hard left and listen for any sounds coming from your steering wheel.

In case you hear any sounds, that’s a sign of problems with movable joints attaching the steering to your wheel axle. However, you need to do another test to confirm your observations. So, step out of the car then walk towards the front fender. Make sure you’re close to the car tire then use both hands to pump pressure continuously on the fender.

A car with good suspension should bounce without producing clonks. After removing your hands, the car should stop rocking immediately.

4. Transmission

You’ll need a long test drive to have a good assessment of the car’s transmission system. Pay attention when you start the car and drive off the car lot. One indicator of a damaged gear system is a whining noise whenever you reverse the car. If you switch to reverse but the car takes a couple of seconds to start moving, just look for a better car.

Pick a road in a secluded area with very few motorists for your test drive. Why? Because you’ll need to travel at high speeds over a long distance to check whether the car transitions smoothly from one gear to the next.

5. Brakes

Have you ever witnessed an accident that occurred because one driver had bad brakes? A car that has unreliable brakes poses a great danger to your life, fellow motorists, and pedestrians around you. That’s why you need to take the car out on a test drive to inspect them.

Check the effectiveness of your brakes by halting at various speeds. Look for a straight road where you can drive at 5 MPH then press the brake. Next, increase your speed to 10MPH then apply your brakes. If the brakes require stomping, say goodbye to the seller.

If you have plenty of time, remove any tire then use your car jack and jack stands to raise the vehicle. Take a venire caliper and measure the thickness of your outer and inner brake pads. A good brake pad should be at least quarter of an inch thick. Check whether both brake pads wear out evenly.

6. Steering wheel

The power steering reservoir has a dipstick attached the cap to help you check fluid levels and quality. If you notice drops of the steering wheel fluid just at the tip of the dipstick, tell the seller to do some refilling. Insufficient quantity causes squeaking when the driver makes a right or left turn.

Get out of the driver seat then pop the hood. You’ll need a flashlight to examine the car’s drive belt. It should be dry and lack any cracks or breaks. If you find a damaged drive belt, avoid buying the car because you’ll also need a new drive pump. Take the flashlight underneath the car to check for any swollen bushings.

7. Frame

This test is quite easy. All you have to do is use your fingers to feel for any bumps or dents while walking around the car. If you find any, it indicates that the accident was terrible. Check the body lines along the hood, trunk and car doors.

Second, open all car doors then shut them one by one. A damaged car frame interferes with door locking and opening. That’s why you have to use extra force to push the door shut from outside. A bad frame can make the car unsafe because it doesn’t lock properly. Imagine what would happen if you’re driving at 60MPH then your door suddenly swings open.

Pay attention to your car trunk and hood. If you need to use extra force to shut them, then you know that the car has an altered frame. If someone knocks your car from behind, then it will be really difficult to repair the trunk.

8. Interior

What should you look for when inspecting a car’s interior? When you open the car, no foul odor should hit your nose. Look for any cigarette burn holes, tears, and visible stains on the car seats. See whether the headrests move up and down smoothly. Then, move to the front and push down the lever under the co-drivers seat. If the car seat moves with difficulty, ask for another car.

Check the dashboard for any cracks, breaks, or stains. Pay attention to the odometer to see whether your potential seller stated the correct mileage. Make sure the protective clear plastic cover in front of your speedometer lacks scratches or missing parts.

Find out whether you have good car mats. Lift them up and move the seats to inspect for holes on the car’s floor.

9. Exterior

Just like the frame, inspecting a car’s exterior gives you a glimpse of its history. You can tell whether the car has an altered body by feeling the fenders. If you come across misalignments, that indicates the point of impact of a major car accident. You’ll also notice uneven spaces between car doors and surrounding panels.

When you use your fingers to knock a car with good paint, you’ll hear a dull and heavy sound. Repeating this test on a motor vehicle with inferior body paint produces loud knocks.

3. The advantages of buying a rebuilt title car

1. Very affordable prices

A repaired title car does not have the same value as a typical used car. Why? Because there’s a huge loss of value after the accident or natural disaster. After renovations, the car moves from “New” to “Rebuilt” even if you bought it a month before the major car accident.

If you’re planning to get your teenage son or daughter their first car, you won’t feel burdened by making a cash purchase. People who need cars urgently and don’t want the hassles of an auto loan can get rebuilt motor vehicles for less than $5,000.

2. You can salvage parts for your favorite car lying in the garage

If you own a luxury car model that got into a bad accident or something big and heavy fell on it, then you know how expensive it is to purchase genuine replacements. Due to the high repair costs, you opted to get a modest car as you figure out how to raise enough money for replacements.

Rather than drive a car you don’t like, you can buy a repaired title car that’s similar to yours. Doing this enables you to get decent spare parts that you’ll use to restore your favorite car that’s lying idle in your garage.

3. A wide variety of cars

Some car dealerships allow customers to trade in motor vehicles with repaired titles as long as they meet certain conditions. Car dealerships buy these cars to have enough stock for buyers with low budgets. These cars have higher turnover rates compared to regular used cars.

When you visit several dealerships, you’ll compare prices on renovated minivans, subcompact cars, pickup trucks, and other types of motor vehicles.

4. What are the disadvantages of buying a car with a repaired title?

  1. A High possibility of recurring mechanical problems – Renovation only restores a wrecked car to a roadworthy level. While reading about how to inspect a rebuilt title car, you know that an altered body frame can prevent car doors from locking and opening smoothly. You also know that a bad body frame causes the windows to rattle continuously when driving at certain speeds. If fire or floods caused the extensive damages, then you’ll most likely experience recurring engine problems. They might take a couple of months to appear but when they do, you’ll have to sell the car for a better one.
  2. No warranties – When buying a used car, you can opt for higher monthly payments in order to have an extended warranty. Doing this enables you to extend the life of your car by maintaining it in excellent condition. A well-maintained car will fetch you a good price when you decide to sell it. Auto manufacturers don’t offer any extended warranties on cars with repaired titles. Why? Because the auto manufacturer will spend more money repairing the car than its actual value. So, buying this type of car means you’ll have to reach into your pockets for any unexpected mechanical breakdowns.
  3. Trouble finding a willing insurance company – You now know that 9 out of 10 auto insurance companies steer clear from rebuilt title cars due to inaccurate valuation. No company wants to make loses by paying compensations that exceed a car’s real value. While you get a good price, you’ll have to spend a lot of time driving from one insurance company to the next. Moreover, you can only get a limited liability cover and this is insufficient if you’ve purchased a recently renovated high-end sedan or SUV.

5. Bottom line!

Should you purchase a car with a rebuilt title? It’s not the best decision due to the number and magnitude of risks involved. You have to spend extra money for a thorough inspection by taking the car to a certified mechanic. In case the car has a misaligned frame, it possesses a great danger to your passengers because the door cannot lock properly.

T here are better alternatives to buying a repaired title car. You can save a huge down payment while improving your credit score to get a car loan for a regular used car. Or, you can save enough cash to buy a modest car that doesn’t require credit financing.

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