What is a reconditioned title? Is it safe to drive a reconditioned-titled vehicle? Is it roadworthy? These questions are certainly to arise when buying a used car with reconditioned title.

Situations in which a vehicle gets “Recondition” or “Salvage” title may vary by state as it depends on the state’s laws. A vehicle igets a salvage title if it has been seriously damaged in a fire, flood or car accident to the extent that its repair will cost more than 75$ of its actual value (this threshold can differ from state to state).

However, a vehicle with a salvage title hasn’t always been in an accident. There are many reasons why a car might get this title. In some states (Arizona, Georgia, Florida, New York, Oregon etc.) stolen cars get salvage title as well. After a certain period since the car has been stolen the insurance company pays it off. When the vehicle found the insurance company can issue a salvage title and sell it to a salvage.

Older and collectible vehicles can have reconditioned title. It doesn’t mean that they have been wrecked. The owners who have rebuilt their antique vehicles, as a rule, ask for a reconditioned title.

A damaged vehicle can get salvage title when the insurance company has declared it «totaled». The insurer pays out a claim for value and declares it quits. The vehicle with “salvage” title cannot be registered, sold or driven in its current condition. It must be sold to junk yards for parts.

However car owner or dealer may decide to recover it by all means. Vehicles with “salvage” title can return to the road in case if they are properly restored. In many states, it is necessary for these cars to pass a safety inspection after which the motor vehicle agency will issue a road-legal reconditioned title. The process of inspection is different in every state. When a dealer sells vehicles with reconditioned title he must disclose to customers that the car has been damaged and then rebuilt.

Though disclosing prior wreck is required by law many dealers do not reveal salvage title. Every year a large number of improperly repaired cars are sold to unsuspecting customers. Fraudulent dealers make cosmetic vehicle repair so that the customer will see the car in pretty good condition.

In order to protect yourself from salvage title fraud, you need to

  • have the vehicle inspected by an independent qualified mechanic
  • request the original repair documents
  • run a vehicle history report
  • look for wording on the title (reconditioned title, warranty returned, rebuilt, junked, totaled are indicators of salvage car).