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Branded Title Meaning: Marks to Kill the Deal

branded title meaning | what is a branded title? | Indy Auto Man, Indianapolis

If you find a perfect used car for a much lower price than expected, but it has a branded title – what does it mean? The brand is an official designation put on the title by a state agency. It indicates whether the used vehicle has been damaged or is potentially unsafe to drive.

What Is a Branded Car Title?

A branded car title is an indication that a vehicle comes with a major problem or was once declared a total loss. Branded titles vary by state, but the most common are:

  • Original / Clear;
  • Salvage;
  • Nonrepairable / Certificate of Destruction;
  • Lemon;
  • Junk;
  • Totaled;
  • Reconstructed.

What Does a Branded Title Mean?

Each of these marks indicates the technical condition of the car, its suitability for further operation, and the possibility of using it on the roads of the US or selling it abroad. In all cases, a branded title, except the Original, suppose that the car has defects, extensive damage, or issues with the odometer. Such vehicles have been repaired and then sold. Such a vehicle can still be a beneficial bargain, but such a purchase requires more attention and paperwork.

What Does a Branded Title Look Like?

what does a branded title mean for a car in Indiana

Title Original/Clear

what does a clear title mean

If a car has a clear title, it means it was not stolen, did not get into an accident, and has no insurance history. This branded certificate allows you to confidently move around the states and be sure that the vehicle does not have serious problems behind the back.

Title Salvage

Titulo salvage | salvage title example

The title is branded as salvage when the vehicle is damaged, and the cost of repairs is significant. One of the ways a car can get a salvage title is if the insurance company declares it a total loss. If such a vehicle is reassembled, the title “Salvage” may be changed to “Reconstructed”. As a rule, such changes require verification.

Problems often arise when such vehicles are sold in other states. Because title brand definitions vary, and sometimes the brand is not transferred, the title becomes “clear” again.

What Is Title Washing?

Dishonest car sellers try to take advantage of different title brand interpretations. They buy used vehicles in one state and sell them in another with different laws, where the titles lose branding. Such deals are known as title washing.

How to Find Out If a Vehicle Has a Branded Title

To protect yourself from hidden brands, always use one of the VIN checking tools , such as:

  • CARFAX. It shows all car history reports, whether it has a branded title, when and where it was issued, all maintenance records, and the number of owners. This information will cost you $39.99 if you choose a car from a private seller. If you buy a used car from Indy Auto Man , you can order a CARFAX vehicle history report for free. Find out how to read the CARFAX vehicle history report .
  • VINCheck . National Insurance Crime Bureau offers this free service, which allows you to see whether a vehicle has been branded “Salvage” or has been reported stolen.

Even if the vehicle is moved to Indiana with a brand that is not recognized, the vehicle history will still reflect all previously registered marks.

Title Reconstructed

how does a rebuilt title look like

A rebuilt title certifies that an insurance company declared a car totaled, but it has been repaired and is safe to drive. If you want to apply for a rebuilt title in Indiana, you need to have a salvage title certificate.

What Is a Rebuilt Title?

If a car is declared a total loss after an accident, insurance companies usually auction it to recoup a part of its cost. Some repair shops buy such vehicles to fix and then sell them.

After repair, the vehicle must pass a safety inspection to be considered suitable for use. If passed, it will be labeled Reconstructed or Rebuilt. The title informs future owners that the car has been damaged and restored. It warns potential owners of possible violations of the vehicle’s structural or mechanical integrity.

Title Lemon

lemon title look like

Most states, including Indiana, have co-called lemon laws allowing consumers to return new defective vehicles. The law aims to identify defective vehicles that are unsafe to drive and set parameters regarding the defects that qualify a used car for return. If the owner returns the vehicle using the protection of the Lemon Law, the brand will be reflected in the title when it is sold in the future.

Pros and Cons of Branded Titles

A branded title car can seem very attractive, and buying one may be tempting. But before investing your hard-earned cash, weigh the following advantages and drawbacks.


  • Cars with branded titles are cheaper. If you have a restrained budget and are looking for affordable wheels, a branded title car may be a good decision.
  • The damage may be just cosmetic. In most cases, a branded title means that there was an accident with the involvement of insurance. Sometimes collisions end up with minor repairs, water damage appears to be a couple of inches of water, while a car returned after a theft may have no damage at all.


  • Reselling can cause problems. Buyers may be skeptical of a brand title car, and the mark may reduce its resale value.
  • Financing can be challenging. Many lenders finance only cars with clean papers. You may also need to pay a higher interest rate.
  • Problems with insurance . Not all insurance companies cover such cars.
  • Mechanical problems may be lurking. If you miss any damage to core systems, the repairs may be expensive.

A branded title may mean considerable savings for those well-versed in cars and repairs. However, such a purchase is always a risk. If you are looking for an affordable but reliable used vehicle in Indianapolis , visit Indy Auto Man. When buying from us, you can always request a car history report for free and see all the data to make an informed decision. Come to our dealership to choose the vehicle that will serve you faithfully for years to come.