Clean car title: what does it mean?

The clean title (clean title, in English) indicates that the vehicle was never considered a total loss and although most cars have this type of document, the term can be somewhat misleading. So, to clear up any confusion you may have about it, today we want to explain to you what exactly is the clean title and what you should expect from a car with this US title.

What does a clean title mean?

📰 Contents
  1. What is a car title?
  2. What is the clean title?
  3. Why is a vehicle declared a total loss?
  4. What are the title signs?
    1. 1. Lemon title
    2. 2. Odometer rollback title
    3. 3. Rescue title
    4. 4. Reconstructed title (Reconstructed title or "Reconstructed title")
    5. 5. Title of the damage caused by the water
    6. 6. Title of hail damage
  5. If a car has a clean title, does that mean it has no damage?
  6. How to know if the title is clean?
    1. Check the history or background of the car
  7. What does the title of a clean car look like?
  8. Clean title: Frequently Asked Questions
    1. What does clean title mean on cars?
    2. How to check the title of a car?
    3. What does export only mean in a car title?
    4. What does clean export of title only mean?
    5. How do you get a copy of a car title?
  9. Clean title: Final thoughts

What is a car title?

A car title is a legal document that proves ownership of a vehicle. It also includes important information such as the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). It is issued by the state in which the car, truck or SUV was purchased and must accompany the vehicle throughout its life.

The information that appears on a car title varies slightly by state, but generally contains:

  • Vehicle owner (s)
  • Owner address
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • odometer reading
  • Date the odometer reading was taken
  • Owner information if the car was purchased with financing
  • Issue date of the security

It can also include a title number, vehicle weight, number of cylinders in the engine, engine number, license plate number and signs of salvage, flooding, etc. Later we will explain what the signs of a title are.

What is the clean title?

The clean title is what indicates that a vehicle has never been involved in an accident for which the total loss was declared, nor was it damaged by floods, fires, etc. Now you are probably wondering why a vehicle is declared a total loss? We will explain it to you immediately.

Why is a vehicle declared a total loss?

A vehicle in an accident can be declared a total loss for several reasons:

  • The car will not run smoothly or safely after being repaired.
  • The repair costs exceed the market value of the vehicle.
  • A total loss must be declared due to state law.

Lines or ranges have been established across states in the US to determine when a vehicle should be reported as total loss or "total car". According to this regulation and depending on the state, the value of a crashed car will vary from 50% of the price of the vehicle before the crash to 100%. This percentage is known as the total loss threshold.

When a vehicle is declared a total loss after a traffic accident, its title will have a mark and will no longer be a "Clean Title". And now another question may arise: What is a trademark in a title? We will explain it to you soon.

How to transfer a car title in any state

What are the title signs?

The "brand title" or title markings are used to provide information on the type of damage a vehicle has suffered. For example, if it has been flooded or has had a serious car accident.

Below, we'll show you some of the more common types of title markers. However, you should be aware that states can handle different terms. Therefore, it is best to consult the Department of Motor Vehicles local for specific information on what each sign means in your state.

1. Lemon title

Most states have laws that allow consumers to return new cars that have many defects. These laws are known as "lemon laws" and work to protect consumers who have purchased poor quality products. The "read about lemonOr lemon laws set clear parameters on the type of defects that qualify a car for a return. However, these laws vary from state to state, and a car that is considered a lemon in one state may not meet the minimum requirements for this designation in another.

Although states have different definitions of what constitutes a lemon, this designation generally has one common feature: its goal is to identify cars with defects that could make the vehicle unsafe to drive.

If a consumer has used the protections of the lemon law to return a car, this mark will be reflected in the vehicle title if it is sold as a used car in the future.

2. Odometer rollback title

The mileage of a car has a big impact on its price. All things being equal, a used car that has barely been driven will be priced higher than one with many miles on the odometer. With this in mind, dishonest salespeople can alter a used car's odometer reading to reflect fewer miles than the car has actually driven. This is known as reversing the odometer, it is illegal and usually difficult to detect.

In many cases, a qualified mechanic is needed to identify if a car has been tampered with in this way. If a seller is found to have cleared a vehicle's odometer, they will be given a "Odometer Reset Title" sign.

3. Rescue title

If a vehicle suffers damage that costs more than its market value to repair, a "Salvage Title" can be issued. These securities are commonly issued in situations where an insurance company has declared the vehicle to be a total loss or a "total car".

A salvage title isn't necessarily a reason to refuse to buy a used car, but you should have enough information about this type of brand and the condition of the car before making a decision.

4. Reconstructed title (Reconstructed title or "Reconstructed title")

A vehicle may receive a "Title Rebuilt" mark if it has been declared total damage by an insurance company but has subsequently been repaired for a technical overhaul.

If you buy a vehicle with a rebuilt title you can save money, but remember that the operation involves risks, therefore, we advise you to inform yourself very well before buying a car with this type of title.

5. Title of the damage caused by the water

Floods can be devastating, even for cars. Water can cause mold and mildew inside your car and can ruin your engine. When this occurs, the title of the car is marked as "water damage".

Even if you don't live in an area prone to thunderstorms, beware of flood-damaged vehicles on the used car market. This is because many damaged cars are shipped to other states to be sold.

6. Title of hail damage

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration reports that hail causes property damage worth $ 1 billion annually. And vehicles also suffer the consequences of this natural phenomenon. When a car has suffered hail damage, it will be marked as "Hail Damage Title"

How to insure a car with a salvage or rebuilt title?

If a car has a clean title, does that mean it has no damage?

No, a car with a clean title can have a lot of damage. Why? Since the title of the car is only affected by insurance claims, so a clean title is not a guarantee that the vehicle will be trouble-free. Indeed, A vehicle can suffer significant damage without being reported to the insurer. There is also a risk of mechanical failure. Therefore, before buying a car it is advisable to ask a trusted mechanic to check it thoroughly, regardless of whether it has a clean title or not. Also, it is recommended that you review your car history before closing the deal.

How to know if the title is clean?

You can find out if the title is clean and if the information provided by the seller is correct by running a background check.

Check the history or background of the car

Manufacturers assign a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to every car they produce. The VIN must have a total of 17 digits, consisting of letters and numbers. Buyers can check the records associated with a particular VIN through various portals such as CarFax And Automatic control.

These pages provide detailed vehicle histories at a reasonably low cost. Through its reports it is possible to obtain a lot of data, for example:

  • Previous owners of the car
  • If the vehicle's airbags have deployed
  • If the car has been the subject of a lemon law complaint
  • If money is owed on the car (car title loans or loans).

What does the title of a clean car look like?

A clean title or "clean title" does not have any of the signs we mentioned above. In the following image you can see a "clean title" and under it a "save title".

How to sell an untitled car

Clean title: Frequently Asked Questions

What does clean title mean on cars?

As we explained earlier, If a car has a clean title it means it has not been declared a total loss by any insurance company and has no marks. But this does not mean that it has not suffered significant damage or that it has no mechanical failures.

How to check the title of a car?

It is very important to check the title of a car before buying it. To do that, follow the steps below.

  1. Find your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). You can find it on some parts of the bodywork, on the title or on the insurance documents.
  2. Search basic information (vehicle history) via CarFax, AutoCheck or other similar companies.
  3. Analyze the history of the vehicle and try to identify possible problems with the title. It is important to know if the vehicle has been declared a total loss at any time or if it has any type of financing pending payment.
  4. Visit or phone the DMV and provide the car's VIN, you may be able to get some basic information about the title this way. Some states allow you to check the VIN and title status online, others require the legal owner of the car to call for information.

What does export only mean in a car title?

"Export only" means the car cannot be registered in the United States, so you can only use it in another country. It is quite common to find cars with "Export Only titles" at US auto auctions. But you have to be very careful, these vehicles may have been declared a total loss and later repaired to put them up for sale. According to U.S. regulations, they are likely not safe cars to drive again.

What does clean export of title only mean?

An "export only" title means the car can only be registered and used outside the United States. You will not be able to legally drive a car with this type of title in the United States.

How do you get a copy of a car title?

To get a copy of your car title, go to your local DMV, provide your vehicle's VIN, current odometer reading, driver's license, and any other requirements they may require. Pay the applicable rate and request a replacement title for your vehicle.

Clean title: Final thoughts

Whether you are buying a new car or selling your current one, the vehicle title is a key document to get it done. If you are buying a used car, the title will provide important information about its current condition.However, before closing the deal, you should request a thorough inspection of the car by a trusted mechanic.

If you want to discover other articles similar to Clean car title: what does it mean?, you can visit the Last News category.

Nathan Hamilton

Nathan Hamilton

Nathan is a car enthusiast and industry professional with decades of combined experience in the automotive sector. Along with his team of writers and researchers, all passionate about automobiles, he is committed to delivering reliable and relevant content that ranges from detailed insurance guides to maintenance tips and much more.

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