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What is a Branded Title?

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When you order a vehicle history report, one of the things that comes back is any title brands on the vehicle. 

A branded title tells you a lot about a vehicle’s past, and can help you to better determine whether you’re getting a good deal or if you should walk away from the sale. 

This page will cover the basics of branded titles so you can be better prepared for shopping for a used car. 

What does branded title mean? 

A certificate of title contains a lot of important information about the car. 

A title brand is something that every state uses to keep track of a vehicle’s history. 

In general, a branded title indicates that a particular car has experienced major damages, problems, or above-average wear.

To be more specific, a branded title means one or more of the following:

  • A car has been declared a total loss. 
  • There have been major damages due to flood, fire, hail, etc. 
  • There are odometer issues with the vehicle. 
  • The vehicle was used for commercial purposes such as taxi, police, etc. 

Cars with branded titles tend to be significantly cheaper than the same vehicle with a clean title. 

On the other hand, reselling, financing, insuring, and fixing a branded title vehicle can be much more costly and difficult. 

You can determine whether a vehicle has a branded title by checking on the title status

You can typically find any existing title brands in the section labeled “Vehicle History” or “Brands” on the certificate of title. 

Common Types of Branded Titles

Some title brands are more common than others, and are typically found in every state. 

These include:

  • Salvage titles. 
  • Rebuilt titles. 
  • Odometer Flags. 
  • Water/Flood Damage. 

Salvage Title

A salvage title brand is applied when a car has been in a collision and has been declared a total loss by the insurance company. 

This happens when the cost to repair the vehicle exceeds that current market value of the vehicle. 

In many cases, these types of vehicles will be sold at auction for parts or repair, but the title will be updated to reflect the salvage brand. 

Learn more: What is a Salvage Title?

Rebuilt Title

A rebuilt title is applied after a vehicle with a salvage title has been repaired, inspected, and certified that it can be registered and driven again. 

While vehicles with rebuilt titles can be registered and driven on public roads, not every insurance company will provide you with a policy. And, if you plan to sell it in the future, finding a buyer may be more difficult.

Learn more: What is a Rebuilt Title?

Odometer Flags

Odometer branded titles indicate that there has been an issue identified with the vehicle’s reported mileage. 

In most cases, this means that the listed mileage is lower than the actual mileage. This can be due to intentional fraud, mechanical errors, rollovers, etc. 

Water/Flood Damage

Flood Damage or Water Damage title brands indicate that the vehicle has sustained significant damage after being submerged, flooded, or otherwise heavily damaged by water. 

Water and flooding can cause serious, long-lasting damage to a car. Things like rust, mold, mildew, and engine damage can be difficult to spot and expensive to fix. 

It’s a good idea to think twice about purchasing a flood damaged vehicle. 

List of Title Brands

Title BrandMeaning
Agricultural VehicleThe vehicle was used for agricultural purposes primarily on private roads.
AntiqueThe vehicle is 50+ years old.
ClassicThe vehicle is over 20 years old and meets other classic vehicle criteria.
CollisionThe vehicle has been damaged in a collision.
CrushedThe frame of the vehicle has been crushed or damaged to the extent where it cannot be reused or repaired. 
Disclosed DamageThe vehicle has experienced damage to the extent where it is required to be listed. 
DismantledThe vehicle can only be sold for parts.
Fire damageThe vehicle has been damaged in a fire.
Flood damageThe vehicle has been damaged in a flood.
Former RentalThe vehicle was previously used as a rental car.
Gray MarketThe vehicle was manufactured for use and sale outside of the U.S.
Hail damageThe vehicle has been damaged by hail.
JunkThe vehicle is unsafe for operation and can only be used for parts or scrap.
KitThe vehicle has been constructed with different components. The chassis VIN is used as the VIN.
Logging VehicleThe vehicle was used for logging purposes primarily on private roads.
Odometer: ActualThe odometer reading is true and correct.
Odometer: Exceeds Mechanical LimitsThe odometer reading is not the true reading due to mechanical limits of the device.
Odometer: Exempt from Odometer DisclosureThe vehicle falls outside of the federal odometer disclosure requirements laws. 
Odometer: Not ActualThe odometer reading is not the actual mileage on the vehicle.
Odometer: ReplacedThe odometer is not the same as the original odometer when the vehicle was manufactured. 
Odometer: Tampering VerifiedThe odometer has been tampered with to make it look like the mileage is different from actual mileage. 
Original PoliceThe vehicle is currently registered as a police vehicle. 
Original TaxiThe vehicle is currently registered as a taxi.
Owner RetainedThe vehicle has been declared a total loss and is kept by the owner. 
Prior Non-Repairable / RepairedA previously damaged or destroyed vehicle has been repaired and inspected.
Prior PoliceThe vehicle was used as a police vehicle.
Prior TaxiThe vehicle was registered as a taxi.
RebuiltThe vehicle was previously branded as salvage, but has been rebuilt to pass the necessary inspections for safe use.
ReconstructedA vehicle that has been significantly altered from its original form.
Recovered TheftThe vehicle was previously branded as Salvage due to theft, but has since been repaired and inspected.
RefurbishedA vehicle that has been renovated or upgraded.
RemanufacturedThe vehicle has been reconstructed by the original manufacturer. 
ReplicaThe vehicle has been constructed to look like a different make, year, or model.
Salt water damageThe vehicle has saltwater damage as a result of a flood.
Salvage RetentionThe vehicle was branded as salvage and kept by the owner.
Salvage: Damage or Not SpecifiedThe vehicle has been wrecked, destroyed, or damaged and listed as a total loss.
Salvage: StolenThe vehicle has been stolen and recovered by the insurance company.
Street RodThe vehicle has been modified beyond the manufacturer’s original specs.
Test VehicleThe vehicle was manufactured for testing purposes. 
TotaledThe vehicle has been determined to be a total loss.
VandalismThe vehicle has been vandalized.
VIN ReplacedThe vehicle has been issued a new VIN.
Warranty ReturnThe vehicle had been returned to the manufacturer for a warranty breach.