Difference between Branded and Salvage Titles in the Car

Difference between Branded and Salvage Titles in the Car

Buying a used car can be a long and tedious process. Perhaps you have the make and model figured out, but then searching through all the cars listed for sale is making your head spin. Then you find the vehicle that checks off every box, but the words “salvaged title” or “branded title” appear on the ad and you just don’t know if you should take that chance.

The price probably looks great, but you should know the difference between branded and salvage title before you make the purchase.

What is a car title?

The title to your car represents your legal ownership of the vehicle. Sometimes it is referred to as the “pink slip.” The majority of cars have a clean title, meaning that the car has not been in a major accident or been in a catastrophic event, such as a hail storm or flood. The title can give you a little history of the vehicle, and includes the VIN number and owner information.

What is a Salvage Car Title?

When searching for a used car, the owner must make it apparent if the car has a salvage title. This means that car has suffered some type of damage. It could have been part of a major car accident, been pounded on by hail, floated down a river, etc. The point of the car having a salvage title means that it needs to be rebuilt in order for it to be street legal again. The car can also be dismantled for parts and destroyed.

In some states, a salvage title is game over. This means the title is permanently cancelled and the car can only be destroyed.

What is a Branded Car Title?

If on your used car search you come across a branded car title, there’s some things you should understand before buying the vehicle. A branded title means that the car has had some type issue previously. A rebranded car could have previously had a salvage title that was reinstated or now listed as ‘rebuilt.’

It also could have been deemed a “lemon” or “warranty return.” Extensive water damage, suspicion of the odometer being rolled back, being abandoned or having heavy vandalism are all also reasons for a car to be labeled with a branded title.

What does it mean when a car is labeled a “Lemon”?

When a car is labeled a ‘lemon,’ it generally means the car has repeated, unfixable mechanical problems. Most states have specific laws regarding these types of car and how they qualify to be called a ‘lemon.’ Often, a car has to have a substantial defect, of which multiple repairs were attempted and failed.

In Arizona, the Lemon Law usually only applies to new cars. Here are specifics about the law here:

  • Only new cars under 2 years old or under 24,000 miles are covered.
  • Used cars are only covered for the first 15 days after purchase or 500 miles – whichever comes first.
  • The dealer is allowed to make a ‘reasonable number of attempts’ to fix it first. This means 4 attempts or having your car in the shop for more than 30 days.
  • If it cannot be fixed, you are entitled to a full vehicle replacement or refund (minus an amount of money of when the car was used successfully).
  • You can hire an attorney to help you win a legal battle should it come to that.

Should you buy a car with a salvage or branded title?

The answer truly depends on the purpose of the vehicle. Up front, you should spend the $40 it costs to research the car’s history via Carfax or Autocheck. This may give you the insight on the vehicle’s history to see if it is truly a worthwhile deal for you.

Next, you should have an independent mechanic of your choosing give the vehicle a one over. They can investigate where the damage might be and if the vehicle is still truly safe to drive.

Overall, if you are not comfortable with the purchase, then the deal is probably not worth it. You don’t want to get a few miles down the road and regret ever making the purchase. Your safety is priceless compared to a cheap deal.

Final Thoughts

Most car buyers tend to steer clear of salvage or branded car titles and for good reason. Usually the safety and integrity of the car is at risk, even if the car has been rebuilt. Use your best judgement if you find yourself interested in this type of vehicle or just walk away if there’s any doubt.

Leave A Comment