Have you ever had to deal with a totaled car? If so, you’ve probably heard of branded titles and the headache that goes along with them.
Branded titles can seem confusing, especially since every state handles them differently. But it’s important to understand what it means for you as the owner, or a potential purchaser of a vehicle, with a branded title status.
What is a Branded Title?
In Utah, a branded title can mean two different things: either the vehicle has been salvaged, or it has been rebuilt.
A salvaged vehicle is one that has been so severely damaged, often from collision or flooding, that the cost of repairing it would exceed its fair market value.
A rebuilt vehicle is a salvaged vehicle that has been repaired and can legally be driven on the road.
The brand on the title will always specify whether the vehicle is salvaged or rebuilt.
Buying a Vehicle with a Branded Title
If you’re thinking about buying a pre-owned vehicle, you should inspect the vehicle thoroughly and research its history. Remember, if a wrecked vehicle is repaired for less than the cost of its value, it won’t have a branded title.
Always check the body of the vehicle for minor dents, mismatched paint, or uneven body filler. Even if you think everything looks fine, it’s a good idea to have a mechanic look it over. They can give you a complete mechanical report of the vehicle, and let you know about any future repairs that may be needed.
Not sure if the car you’re looking at has a branded title? Any dealer selling a vehicle with a branded title must provide written notice to the customer before negotiating the sale. Dealers are also required to display a disclosure form in the vehicle’s windshield. Non-dealers must also use the disclosure form, but they are not required to display it.
Brands can sometimes be removed from titles, but only if the vehicle was not damaged by flood, and if just one major component part of the vehicle was damaged. Removing a brand will require a certified inspection before, and sometimes after, the repair process.
Before you buy, make sure to check with your insurance provider. Typically you can only purchase liability insurance for a car with a branded title, not comprehensive.
What Happens to Your Title if Your Vehicle is Totaled
If your vehicle has been declared a total loss by your insurance provider, it’s important to understand what needs to happen with the title. After you file a total loss claim, you’ll have two options:
- Full Settlement: You will sign the vehicle title over to your carrier, and they will become fully responsible for the vehicle. You will receive payment in full for damages, minus your deductible. The insurance company is required to take care of all paperwork to ensure the title gets branded.
- Partial Settlement: You will maintain ownership of the vehicle, and your carrier will pay you for partial damages. Within 10 days after the settlement, you must apply for a salvage title with the DMV. Once you have the salvaged title, you can either repair the vehicle or sell it for parts to a scrapyard.
If you choose to repair your vehicle, be prepared to jump through a lot of hoops before you get it back on the road. Your salvaged car must pass a safety inspection from a state-certified inspector. It may also be required to pass a smog check. The inspection includes quite a bit of paperwork, including details about every part used when repairing the vehicle.
Only after passing your safety inspection can you apply for a rebuilt title from the DMV. Be prepared to provide extensive documentation about the repair process. Note there is a title fee.
What’s Next for You?
Obtaining a branded title can be a long, difficult process. Selling a vehicle after it’s been rebuilt can be next to impossible. Not many buyers are eager to purchase a vehicle that was totaled.
If your car is totaled and you want to save yourself the stress of dealing with a branded title, give Tear-A-Part a call. We pay cash for junked cars, even if they have a branded title.