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Automobiles Auctions   >   Articles   >   Salvage & Title Branding

   
 

Salvage and Vehicle Title Branding


Many US states have laws that require vehicles that have suffered serious damage, where the cost to repair damage is more than the fair market value of the vehicle (or close to it), to have their titles branded using a term such as "Salvage", "Junk", "Total Loss", or "Véhicule gravement accidenté".

Once so branded, it is not usually possible to remove the brand from the vehicle's title - although if the vehicle is subsequently repaired, and then inspected as being safe, the brand may be changed to "Rebuilt", "Rebuilt Salvage", or "Prior Salvage".

The purpose of these brands is to warn consumers about potentially dangerous vehicles, to allow potential buyers of such vehicles to make an informed decision about whether to purchase. However, while this is a good system, it is far from perfect.

One problem is that the branding laws in different US states is different, and hence there is room for things to slip between the cracks. Additionally, since branding a title tends to reduce the resale value of a vehicle, unscrupulous sellers may look for ways to avoid branding their vehicle's title, or to get the brands removed.

Here are some of the ways that a vehicle that should be branded as "Salvage" or "Rebuilt Salvage" might not be:
  • The vehicle could have been severely damaged (and repaired) before the branding scheme was introduced in the particular state.

  • The vehicle could have been severely damaged (and repaired) in another jurisdiction (with different branding laws), and then retitled in the current jurisdiction. This is often done by unscrupulous sellers and is known as "vehicle title washing".

  • The vehicle could have been severely damaged (and repaired) without notifying an insurance company or the DMV.
In summary, like all title brands, you should be on the look out for "Salvage" and "Rebuilt Salvage" (as well as their synonyms) - but the absence of such brands does not necessarily indicate a vehicle is okay. All vehicles should be properly inspected before purchasing, and you might also consider using online services to get more detailed histories of vehicles offered to you - VinAudit.com provides vehicle history reports with over 60+ problem checks (based on access to a database of over 40 million records from state DMVs, junk yards, and insurance carriers).


Related Links


Here are some related links and websites:
  • Check Your VIN
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  • How To Buy Cars At Auctions
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  • Inspect Before You Buy
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