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Automotive Title Brands

What is a Title Brand?

Title brands indicate whether a used vehicle has sustained damage or might be potentially unsafe to drive. If a vehicle's title has been "branded," it is an official designation made by a state agency and should appear on the vehicle's title paperwork. Neither individuals nor private companies can brand titles.

While title brands vary by state, some of the most common ones include:

  • Salvage
  • Junk
  • Totaled
  • Lemon
  • Flood
  • Reconstructed

Not only do different states have their own specific set of title brands, but may have a slightly different definition in each state. If you have questions about title brands used in your state, we recommend contacting your state's department of motor vehicles.

Title Washing

Because title brand definitions vary by state, sometimes a title brand will not transfer to the title in the new state, which means the title becomes "clean." Unscrupulous sellers can increase the sale price of cars by "cleaning" or "washing" the titles by registering them in states where the title brands do not transfer.

AutoCheck can help protect you from such hidden title brands. AutoCheck receives title brand, registration and other important information over the life of the vehicle, regardless of where the vehicle is registered.

Even if a vehicle moves to another state that doesn't recognize certain brands, the AutoCheck vehicle history will still reflect all previously reported title brands.

Salvage Title Brand

A salvage title is often issued by states when a vehicle is damaged and the cost to repair is significant (usually if it is over a certain percentage of fair market value). One way a vehicle may end up with a salvage title is when an insurance company declares a vehicle a total loss.

If the salvage vehicle is rebuilt, the "Salvage" title brand might be changed to a "Rebuilt Salvage." Usually such a change requires an inspection.

A problem often occurs when a salvaged and rebuilt vehicle is sold in another state. Because title brand definitions vary by state, sometimes a title brand will not transfer to the title in the new state, which means the title becomes "clean".

To protect yourself from hidden title brands, even if a vehicle moves to another state, purchase an AutoCheck vehicle history report. Even if a vehicle moves to another state that doesn't recognize certain brands, the AutoCheck vehicle history will still reflect all previously reported title brands.

Lemon Title Brand

It is common to call any car that has excessive mechanical problems a "lemon." However, you might not know that each state has its own standards (or "lemon laws") on what makes a vehicle a lemon. In fact, not all states even have lemon laws.

Generally speaking, if a certain element of a vehicle has malfunctioned several times while under warranty, and this malfunctioning element makes the car inoperable or unsafe to drive, such a vehicle could be branded by the state as a lemon on its title.

Another key point is that the manufacturer be given a chance to repair the problem. If the vehicle continues to have the same problem (even after attempts to repair it), the vehicle can be branded as a lemon. In addition, the problems must have occurred during the warranty period.

It's important to remember that each state has its own lemon law. Contact your state department of motor vehicles to learn more about the lemon laws in your state.

To find out if your vehicle is a lemon, an AutoCheck vehicle history report will note on your report if the vehicle has a lemon title.

Water Damage Title Brand

Hurricanes, thunderstorms and flash flooding are responsible for water damage on many vehicles each year in the United States. Don't think that because you live miles from a hurricane or flood zone that you won't encounter a water-damaged vehicle. It is common for vehicles to be moved thousands of miles before they are put up for sale.

How can you be sure the vehicle you're about to purchase has not sustained significant water damage? It's always a good idea to have the vehicle examined by a certified mechanic before you purchase it. However, an AutoCheck vehicle history report can show if the title has been branded with water damage at some point in its past.

By taking a few simple precautions, you can avoid a vehicle that has been damaged by water.

Odometer Rollback Title Brand

Detecting odometer rollback is very difficult if you are not a certified mechanic, mostly because anyone who commits the fraudulent act of rolling back an odometer to conceal actual mileage is aware of how to hide it.

Taking the vehicle to a mechanic for an inspection is a very good way to discover whether a vehicle's odometer has been rolled back. A good mechanic will know what signs to look for and can point them out over the course of the inspection.

Another step you can take is purchasing an AutoCheck vehicle history report. An AutoCheck vehicle history report will notify you if the vehicle has been reported as having a rolled-back odometer.

For more information on odometer rollback, please visit the Office of Odometer Fraud Investigations (a division of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

 

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