Branded title vehicles are a great option for many car buyers to get more bang for their buck. Buying a branded title vehicle can be an intimidating undertaking, though. We reached out to our readers to see what tips they had for anyone considering buying a branded title vehicle. Keep reading to see what they said.
Do Your Research
The best thing consumers can do – whether they are looking at a new car, used car, or in this case, one with a branded title – is plenty of research ahead of time. Then, while meeting with the selling party, ask good, solid, fact-finding questions before committing to a purchase.
There are several key reasons, depending on where you live, why a vehicle may be assigned a branded title, including things like odometer rollback, theft, and bad weather damage. It’s important to ask questions that will help you determine what type of damage it endured, how long ago it happened, and what was done during the repair process, often called “reconditioning” by dealership staff internally.
When a dealership puts a vehicle through its reconditioning process, they keep a computerized record of what they did. In the case of a car with a branded title, it may include records from both the service department and body shop. Ask to have these printed out and given to you beforehand. Doing so will give you an idea of what was repaired on the car and to what degree.
This is helpful information to have if you are considering a vehicle with a branded title. Likewise, there is a high probability the selling dealer will have already pulled a vehicle history report through an outlet like Carfax or Experian. Ask them to provide that so you won’t have to incur the cost of getting that report yourself.
Make sure to take the vehicle for a test drive and pay close attention to anything out of the ordinary. Although there are perfectly normal sounds all cars make, you want to keep your ears open for loud rattles, thumps, thuds, and clunks. Pay close attention to the steering wheel too. How does it feel? Did you notice a vibration or excessive “feedback” while you were driving? If so, this could indicate further maintenance may be necessary, of which the bill will come out of your pocket.
If you know of a trusted mechanic, take the vehicle you are considering with a branded title to them for a multi-point inspection. They can provide you with additional insight before making a purchase.
A lower price is one of the primary advantages of buying a vehicle with a branded title. If you are purchasing from a reputable seller or establishment, the vehicle with the branded title has been repaired with factory parts by trained technicians to a “like new” condition.
When purchasing a vehicle with a branded or salvage title, it all depends on your comfort level. That’s why it’s essential to do your research and ask good questions ahead of time.
Determine Future Needs by Checking the Past
When shopping for a branded title car, the first step you should always take is to have it inspected by a qualified repair shop. The mechanic should be able to carry out a full inspection and provide you with a complete mechanical report of the car, which should inform you of any future repairs that may be needed.
However, this may not always tell you everything you need to know about the vehicle’s history. This is why, aside from conducting a thorough hunt for current damage, you also need to look up the car’s past. This can usually be accomplished by simply looking up the vehicle’s history report, which is commonly referred to as a VIN check. This document will usually contain a detailed account of the car’s history and should tell you if it has ever been reported as stolen, damaged, etc.
Four Tips to Consider when Buying a Branded Title Vehicle
Below are four crucial tips that anyone buying a branded title vehicle should follow.
1. Determine the type of damage. The branded title is a pretty broad term to indicate that a vehicle has faced extensive damage somewhere in the past. This damage can range from altered odometer or theft to total collision or flood/hurricane damage.
So carefully read the accident report, and find what caused the vehicle to have a branded title in the first place.
2. Have a mechanic examine the vehicle. The history or accident report doesn’t always highlight all the problems in a vehicle. That’s why it’s better to bring a mechanic you trust and let them examine that vehicle.
If they find any unmentioned problem, you can use that information to either negotiate the price down further or walk away from the deal altogether.
3. Have extra cash to spend. Since these vehicles have previously met with an accident, there are chances of them getting heavy damage if anything similar happens again. And since you’ll have no warranty, the extra cash will come in handy in case of any hardware failure.
4. Beware of risks. Although branded title cars come cheap, they have some disadvantages too. You should have a clear idea about what you’re getting.
For starters, your financing options are going to be limited. Since banks don’t generally give loans for such vehicles, you may have to complete the full deal in cash.
The same goes for insurance. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll be left with nothing except the scrap value of that car. So don’t invest more in a branded title car than what you can afford to lose.
Look for Hidden Problems
Before making an offer on a car with a branded title, look for any hidden damage potential issues that could end up costing you a lot of money in the long run. Check for rust under the wheel wells and around the door seals.
If you have a trained eye, you may also be able to look under the hood and see if there are any problems with the way it’s been repaired. Make sure to check for proper jacking points and rust-proofing around seams where water could seep in. Look for tears or rips in the seats too. Don’t forget to ask for service history records and insurance claims from previous owners.
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