These two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but there are some important differences. If you get in a wreck—or if you’re looking to buy a used car that has sustained damages in the past—understanding these differences can be very important. Read on to learn more from car enthusiasts.

What’s the difference between rebuilt and salvage title cars?

Kyle MacDonald

Kyle MacDonald, Director of Operations, Force by Mojio.

Rebuilt Cars: Refurbished and Inspected

A rebuilt title means that the car was previously salvaged but has since been refurbished, taken to the DMV, and inspected to ensure that it is safe to be on the road. Rebuilt cars are capable of being registered, driven, and insured the moment you buy them, whereas salvage cars are not.

Examples Of Salvage Title and Rebuilt Title Cars

Salvage title
A flooded car is an example of a salvage title car. The reason it is declared a salvage title is simply because fixing such a car can be more expensive than the value of the car before the flood.

Rebuilt title
If the salvage car is repaired, the state may declare it roadworthy and safe to drive. In this case, the title is changed from a salvage title to a rebuilt title.

What’s the difference between rebuilt and salvage title cars?

Scott Killmer

Scott Killmer, Founder of CarWindshields.
What’s the difference between rebuilt and salvage title cars?

Will Wynn

Will Wynn, Car Enthusiast and Blogger at MyCarHeaven.

Rebuilt Title Equals Roadworthy Vehicle

The two terms salvage title and rebuilt title are often used interchangeably in the car industry, but there is a distinguishing difference between the two. A rebuilt title car used to have a salvage title but has since been repaired to roadworthy conditions. Whereas cars that have a salvage title have [often] been involved in a major accident and aren’t roadworthy unless they are rebuilt.

Laws Will Vary State by State

A salvage title car is a vehicle that an insurance company has declared totaled. That means the cost to repair the car is greater than the vehicle’s value.

The totaled car should have a salvage title issued by the local DMV. This process takes place after the owner receives a payout from their insurer equal to the vehicle’s value before it was totaled (minus their deductible).

Since vehicles with a salvage title usually aren’t drivable, it’s difficult to find auto insurance for a salvage title car. So, in order to drive the car, you will have to rebuild the vehicle or have it rebuilt to meet your state’s inspection and insurance requirements.

A rebuilt title car is a salvage vehicle that has been repaired and passed the safety inspection. The title’s wording is determined by the state. For example, in some states, the salvage will remain on the vehicle’s title even though it has been rebuilt.

If you’re new to vehicle shopping, find out the specific laws in your state as to what is needed to turn a salvage title car into a rebuilt title car and how the vehicle should be titled after it has been totaled and repaired.

What’s the difference between rebuilt and salvage title cars?

Karen Condor

Karen Condor is an auto insurance expert with
What’s the difference between rebuilt and salvage title cars?

Andra DelMonico

Andra DelMonico, Freelance Content Writer at AnDel Marketing.

The Age Of Your Car Will Affect the Title

A title dictates ownership of a car. A salvaged title signifies that the car is so damaged that the repairs would cost more than the car is worth. The amount of damage can vary based on the brand, model, trim package, year, and condition of the car.

A newer car would need extensive damage for the repairs to cost more than the value of the car; an older vehicle may not need much damage to render it a salvaged vehicle. Insurance companies typically make the salvage title determination. These cars are considered unsafe and not registerable with the DMV.

A rebuilt title means that the car once had a salvaged title and has since been repaired. To gain a rebuilt title the car must go through several quality control tests to ensure its drivability. If the vehicle passes, it is now considered safe to drive again and registrable with the DMV.

This is a crowdsourced article. Contributors are not necessarily affiliated with this website and their statements do not necessarily reflect the opinion of this website, other people, businesses, or other contributors.