Clean Title Repairable Cars

If you're in the market for a car that can be rebuilt and put back on the road or re-sold, you have certain advantages if you find a repairable car with a clean title. A clean-title rebuildable car could be a car that's been in a collision, or a theft recovery, a vandalized vehicle, a flood-damaged car or a burnout. In the case of floods, in particular, often insurance adjusters will get a sampling of cars that have been affected by flood damage on a dealer's lot, and then write off all the cars as total losses. Sometimes these cars will come away with salvage titles; other times they'll come with a clean title.

What is the one clearest advantage? A car that comes with a clean title will be worth more when the rebuild process is complete. A rebuilt car with a salvage title will be worth less, and many states will mandate extra inspections before the car can be registered again. Remember that some states do NOT record salvage vehicle titles.

You'll also need to know that an unscrupulous seller can launder a salvage title by moving the car from a state that has salvage titles to one that records only clear titles.

You will, of course, need to check over a clean-title repairable car closely. Flood damage, in particular, can cause lingering headaches even after a car has been rebuilt. Inspect under the hood, under the dash, under the seats and carpets and in the trunk. Be aware of musty, mildewy smells (or efforts to cover up dank smells). Be on the lookout for rust inside the vehicle, or signs that the flood damage has been repaired or covered over. Water up to the floor pan of a car isn't necessarily a big problem, even though an adjuster might still call it a total. Water up to a car's windshield is almost always going to mean real trouble.

If it is at all possible, you should try to get a vehicle history report such as CARFAX. CARFAX isn't perfect, but it gives you a leg up when buying a damaged vehicle (any vehicle, really). You can also look at the National Insurance Crime Bureau's database to look for VIN numbers of cars that have been damaged in hurricanes or floods.

Clean-title repairable vehicles can wind up being a great deal for the rebuilder and reseller. Often these vehicles have negligible damage, or may just need cosmetic work to be returned to resellable condition. Do your homework, be aware of what you're getting into and you can wind up with a car that can bring you years and many miles of reliable service, or can be sold at a fairly tidy profit. Also, remember that an older car has a lower book value, so it's going to mean less actual damage for an insurer to write it off as a total loss.

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