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How To Turn a Rebuilt Title to a Clean Title

How To Turn a Rebuilt Title to a Clean Title

Are you wondering how to turn a rebuilt title to a clean title?

Quick Answer: Unfortunately, once a vehicle receives a rebuilt or salvage title, that history can never be completely washed.

However, with effort, you may be able to make a rebuilt car roadworthy so that it can legally be registered and driven.

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Key Takeaways: Rebuilt vs Clean Car Titles

  • Illegally altering a title is called “title washing” and can lead to huge fines or jail time. Always confirm a car’s history.
  • Properly repairing and registering a rebuilt car can qualify it for a reconstructed title to show it passed inspections.
  • However, its rebuilt history remains visible to buyers and insurers, potentially affecting value and coverage.
  • Carefully research your state’s rebuilt title process and laws before purchasing a rebuilt car.


Overview: Federal Laws Make Title Washing Illegal

The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System archives every vehicle’s title history, making it impossible to legally convert a salvage or rebuilt title to a clean title. Altering titles is called criminal “title washing” under federal law.

Common illegal techniques include:

  • Forging clean title documents
  • Physically editing the title paper
  • Transferring cars across state lines
  • Lying about vehicle history

Types of Vehicle Titles

TitleDefinition
CleanNever declared a total loss or sustained major damage
SalvageDeemed total loss – unsafe to drive until repaired
RebuiltRepaired after salvage title, but history visible
Junk/Non-repairableDamaged beyond repair – sold for scrap parts only

Penalties for Title Washing

Consequences for illegal title washing depend on the state but can include:

  • Over $600,000 in fines
  • Up to 10 years imprisonment
  • Car confiscation
  • Civil lawsuits from defrauded buyers

Before buying any used vehicle, especially a car that appears to be a bargain, confirm the title status through a vehicle history report.

Buying a Rebuilt Title Car

If properly repaired, cars with rebuilt titles can be good affordable options. However, take precautions:

  • Inspections: Have a mechanic thoroughly inspect it first
  • Insurance: Get quotes from multiple companies, some charge more
  • Paperwork: Review title history and keep records of repairs
  • Pricing: Know rebuilt value will be 20-40% less than clean title

Each state has unique rebuilt title laws. Carefully research regulations on registering, driving, and selling rebuilt vehicles where you live before purchasing.

My Final Thoughts

While a rebuilt title can’t be made 100% clean again, you can legally get a vehicle road-worthy and registered to drive. Just steer clear of shady title washing schemes that can land all parties in legal trouble. Stay informed, do your diligence, and know the risks when buying rebuilt cars.

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Steve Momot - Author

Steve Momot - Author

Steve, a seasoned expert in the automotive industry, formerly held a car dealer license in Florida. With extensive experience spanning across car trading and mechanical work, he founded Autohitch. His mission? To guide both buyers and sellers through the intricate maze of car purchasing, ensuring a seamless and informed experience. Outside of the automotive world, Steve has a passion for fishing and capturing the beauty of nature through photography.

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