What does the Clean Title Mean?

A clean title does not always imply the car is in perfect shape! A vehicle may have extensive repairs and still have a clean title. If you plan to buy a car, a mechanic should check it out to ensure its health. While you can find insurance for vehicle title brands, it will typically be more complex than if the vehicle had a clean title. Still need more information about this? This article discusses what does the clean title means and tells you all about title brands.

What does the Clean Title Mean?

What does the Clean Title Mean

If you're looking for a used car, first pay attention to title brands. A branded title will tell you all about the damage the vehicle has sustained in the past. However, as an important distinction, a clean title doesn't mean the car is in perfect condition.

A clean title is the default title for all cars; they start with a clean title. If a vehicle has a clean title, it means the car has never experienced any conditions that cause a title brand, such as getting totaled.

A clean title in a car does not mean it has never been damaged. When a vehicle is damaged, the insurance company may determine the repairs cost more than the car's worth. When this happens, the insurer may mark the car as "totaled."

If so, it gets a title brand. But cars can be damaged without being wasted. If a vehicle has sustained damage in the past that doesn't exceed its cost, then the vehicle can maintain its clean title.

So it's really essential to have a reliable mechanic check the car over before making any commitments to the seller. Other vehicle reports offer a history of accidents associated with the car's VIN.

What are Types of Titles?

A title shows what's happened to the car's interior and exterior in the past. If they branded the title, it means the vehicle has sustained severe damage. You should carefully consider it before purchasing the car. Different types of titles are as follow:

  • Salvage: They totaled the car due to damages. You can't drive salvage cars until they rebuilt them.

  • Rebuilt: A salvage title car is repaired, and the owner can drive it again. They call rebuilt titles repaired or reconstructed too.

  • Flood or Water Damage: The car has significant water damage, usually from a flood. Flood damage may cause electrical problems with the vehicle and other issues that are difficult to repair.

  • Junk or Non-repairable: The car is legally inoperable, and you can sell it for parts and scrap.

  • Odometer Rollback: The car has an odometer deemed unreliable, meaning it may have been tampered with to show a lower mileage. Some also refer to it as TMU (True Mileage Unknown). Car sellers must disclose True Mileage Unknow before the sale.

  • Lemon: It refers to a car that has been out of commission for 30 days or more. It also refers to a vehicle that has had an issue repaired repeatedly without result. Lemon term may also refer to car issues stemming from the producer.

What is Title Washing?

Title washing is a form of fraud. Its purpose is to cover title brands. Criminals who want to sell cars without revealing title brands use title washing to deceive buyers. As you know, it is illegal.

Title washing can happen in different ways:

  • Title branding laws change from state to state. If you change a car into a new form that doesn't recognize a specific title brand, it's possible to remove it from the title.

  • A title is a kind of document. Criminals may make changes to the paper to hide previous title brands, so the buyer is unaware of past damage.

  • It's possible to reapply for car titles. If the car's past information is held back during the process, the car can lose a brand that was on the previous title.

Although the methods for title washing are different, they are technically all forms of deception. If you doubt title washing, you should report it to the authorities.

If you want to buy a used vehicle, you can preserve yourself from title washing by having the car checked by a reliable mechanic who you trust. Good mechanics should spot previous damage, even if it's not on the title.

How about Insuring Clean Titles?

Insurance companies prefer to insure clean titles cars. If you want to buy a car with a branded title, keep in mind that it will be more challenging to find insurance for the vehicle. Some title brands disclude cars from insurance items.

If you buy a rebuilt title car, most insurance providers will be happy to provide a liability kind of coverage. But you have a hard time finding a provider who will agree to give you the full range.

Full coverage refers to various ranges, including comprehensive coverage and collision coverage, which pay for repairs to your car if it's been in a wreck, or events such as natural disasters.

Car insurance companies don't provide full coverage to cars with rebuilt titles because the vehicle may have significant damage that already exists before the policy is in place.

If the vehicle sustains damage coverage by the procedure, the provider may not tell the difference between the new damage and the old ones.

So if you buy a rebuilt title car, have in mind that you may find an insurer who offers just liability coverage. If you buy a salvage vehicle, you won't insure it until they repair the car and change the intended title to rebuilt. That's because you can't drive salvage cars legally.


A title is a history of the intended car. It's a legal document issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles that tells you who the vehicle owner was if it had any significant accidents and the vehicle's current condition.

Titles also include the VIN, make and model, manufacture year, and any financing information. If you have other questions regarding the clean title or more information about it, please ask in the comments below.

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