The most dangerous vehicle title brands

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Vehicle title branding, a permanent designation on a vehicle’s title, indicates that a vehicle has been declared a total loss due to collision, fire or flood damage, or has been sold for scrap, among other possibilities. If a vehicle has any serious damage, the appropriate title brand will be assigned to it in accordance with the laws of the state where an accident took place. However, the approach of brand designation can vary widely from one jurisdiction to another. That’s why you should always read the definition of the designation of a particular state if you’re considering buying a branded vehicle. Also, since title branding is handled by a state agency, even if the car has been fully repaired, the record can’t be expunged by a private party. These control measures help to keep track of a car’s history, deter fraud, to protect consumers of used vehicles. Here are some of the most dangerous title brandings among used vehicles that you should be aware of:

Salvage Brand

It’s the most common and dangerous vehicle title brand. A salvage title means that it would cost more to repair the vehicle than it’s worth at the time the damage occurred. The price of parts and labor to reconstruct the vehicle to its pre-accident condition and for legal operation on roads exceeds a jurisdiction-defined percentage of the vehicle’s retail price. Usually, it’s about 75-100% of the car’s value. In addition, a vehicle must go through a structural safety inspection before it can be driven, as well as documentation of repairs and sources of repair parts may also be required, depending on the jurisdiction. Also, if a vehicle has been declared a total loss by an insurance company, that vehicle can also be issued a salvage title. 

Lemon Brand

State “lemon laws” often requires that a manufacturer or dealer buy back or replace the vehicle if a vendor attempts to repair a problem under a new-car warranty and repeatedly fails. While different states have different definitions for what constitutes a lemon, this designation typically has a common thread: It aims to identify cars with defects that can make the vehicle unsafe to drive. If a consumer has used lemon law protections to return a car, this brand will be reflected on the vehicle’s title if it is sold as a used car later.

Junk Brand

This title brand means that the vehicle is irreparable and may not be used for safe operation on the roads or highways and has no resale value except as a source of parts or scrap. This vehicle can never be registered and usually cannot be exported.

Flood Damage Brand

Water damage can take some time to affect a vehicle. Moisture usually damages the car’s electrical system and compromises safety features such as airbags and anti-lock brakes. Flood-damaged cars also present another, less noticeable, concern: health issues. They can develop mold, which can trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks. The problem is that often, it can be hard to identify flood damage from the first sight, moreover, all the results can be properly hidden by a seller, so it is important to check vehicle history before purchasing.

Commonly, repaired and carefully inspected, even a salvage vehicle may be acceptable – but an improper repair after a serious accident can leave the vehicle parts or key electrical and mechanical systems damaged. Prior to purchasing a used vehicle, it’s vital to look over vehicle history to find out whether it has ever been in a major collision or suffered from another serious damage. ClearVin provides all used vehicle buyers with permanent records of a severe accident that warn potential subsequent owners and help them to make the right decision.

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