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Old 03-06-2011, 08:24 AM
 
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Default No title or clean title on car.. what does that mean

My Grandson is trying to buy a cheap car and of course Grandmother is trying to help. I have seen several cars posted with 'no title' or has 'clean title', can someone explain these to me.

How can you sell a car with 'no title.? I never heard of such a thing before. I am assuming 'clean' title means there are no liens?

What else should I watch out for here?
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Old 03-06-2011, 09:01 AM
 
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Usually cars with no title are cars that were totalled out by insurance companies and sold to junk yards. These cars are then purchased and put back together. Sometimes non-titled cars are multiple cars merged into one. Be Careful.
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Old 03-06-2011, 09:22 AM
 
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ahh.. thanks!!! I couldn't figure out how you can get a tag for a car with no title.
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Old 03-06-2011, 09:26 AM
 
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You can't get a license plate for a car with "no title." They are most likely rebuilds as hey teach pointed out and didn't pass inspection or just never have been inspected. I would stay clear because only licensed rebuilders/body shops can get them inspected and there is a fee and who knows what might need to be done if it doesn't pass inspection.

When you see a used car listed for sale and it says "clean title" that is another red flag. It often signals that the seller often sales rebuilt totals which have passed inspection. You can usually get these cars cheaper but the problem is you don't know what all was wrong with them, how much work was done, the quality of the work or the quality of the parts used. If you are mechanically inclined and can do mechanical repairs yourself, you may be ok buying one of these but keep in mind they often need more maintenance in the first year or two you own them.

Always check the dealers better business bureau record. If its bad, stay away. Take the car to a mechanic and have it checked out before purchasing.
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Old 03-06-2011, 10:25 AM
 
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Thanks for the info Charlesdickens. My grandson went to mechanic school but that doesn't mean he knows all about cars, unless you ask him of course..

There is no car inspection in AL that I am aware of or remember. You can't find a car in his price range at a dealer unfortunately or fortunately.. I just want to tell what he should watch for not that he will listen..
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Old 03-06-2011, 10:47 AM
 
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I'm not talking about an annual vehicle inspection, I am referring to a rebuild title inspection. I have a friend that was involved in rebuilding totals in the past and I actually bought a few myself so I have first hand experience with them. They changed the laws on them back about 8 years or so ago and made them more strict because so many people were throwing together junk and selling them without notifying the buyer that they were rebuilt totals (actually they are called rebuilt salvage but that sounds so bad the retailers try to dance around it by saying it has a "clean title"). They now have a special title for rebuilt totals that will say rebuilt on them because of the law changes.

They must now inform you they are rebuilt and the title will actually say something to the effect of "rebuilt" or "rebuilt salvage" on them. To get this title the car has to be inspected by the AL DOT. Its not an inspection the public has to deal with. Only licensed rebuilders can have a car inspected to receive this title and that is why you have never heard about it. On a side note, most of the inspectors are former state troopers, who have little to no experience with rebuilding cars and honestly the biggest aspect of the inspection is collecting serial and VIN numbers off of the various parts to verify they are not stolen parts or a stolen car.

He needs to have a professional mechanic look over the car and make sure he tells him of the cars history if it is in fact a rebuild so the mechanic will know to look for the tell tale signs of a poor quality rebuild (i.e. parts chopped off and new ones poorly aligned and poorly welded). I have seen two cars taken apart at the middle seam spot welds. One was wrecked in the front and one wrecked in the back. The two good halves were put together to make one care. If it was done poorly you can imagine what might happen while driving down the road. Check the simple things:

Do the tires match? If the dealer doesn't care enough to make sure there are 4 matching decent tires on the car it is a red flag. Who knows what else was let go or overlooked if he doesn't even care if the tires match.

Is the battery good? When you show up to test drive the car, does he say the battery just went bad and he either has to jump it off with a jump box that he just happens to have handy or does he grab a battery sitting by the door and put it in it real quick. This is another red flag. If he doesn't care enough to buy a good battery for the car then who knows what else.

Do the lights all work? If he doesn't take a minute to check that the headlights, tail lights and blinkers all work it is a red flag.

The simple things can tell you a lot about the quality of a dealer.
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Old 03-07-2011, 07:41 PM
 
Location: Madison, Alabama
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Keeper, you may want to have him run a Carfax on it as well: CARFAX - Vehicle History Reports and VIN number check

If your Grandson is a teenager, I'm sure he DOES know it all, just as my 17 year old daughter does. LOL...pulling my hair out as we speak, God love her
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Old 03-08-2011, 12:21 PM
 
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I'd avoid salvaged cars. You can find a cheap car that hasn't been totalled. In addition to all sorts of strange operating problems (a friend of mine had one that inexplicably wore out tires left and right), a rebuilt car often won't have the same survivability in a crash. A lot of times things are bent back into place but still result in a weaker car. Some areas are designed to crumple and absorb energy - you have to wonder if it will absorb the same energy after being rebuilt. Other areas are meant to remain intact, and you have to wonder about the strength of that material after being bent multiple times.
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Old 03-08-2011, 12:32 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charlesdickens View Post
When you see a used car listed for sale and it says "clean title" that is another red flag. It often signals that the seller often sales rebuilt totals which have passed inspection.

I'm in the business. To me, "clean title" is not a red flag. Frankly, clean title is the only type of vehicle I'll buy. It indicates a title that is not marked "salvage," "rebuilt," "flood," "theft recovery," "manufacturer buy back" or "true miles unknown."

In some states you can manage to "wash" a title by getting a title that was once branded with one of those undesireable remarks re-issued without. So you want to check the title history on carfax of anything you are considering buying to be sure no derogitory titles have been issued in the past. But there's no reason to be any more suspicious of a car being advertised as "clean title" as there is of a car that makes no mention of the title quality at all.
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Old 03-08-2011, 02:18 PM
 
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I understand what you are saying and agree that "clean title" means just that but the point I was trying to make is that if the dealer feels it necessary to advertise a car as having a "clean title" it is a red flag to investigate the dealer a little more thoroughly. I don't know of any highly reputable dealer that advertises cars as having a "clean title." They must have some sort of reason for advertising in that manner and you would want to check them out before purchasing. Maybe they are in an area where there are many other dealers and some of them sell rebuilt cars and they are attempting to stand out as having quality cars. Who knows, maybe they just have poor advertising skills and thinks that makes them look better rather than suspicious but the fact that they would advertise in that manner is a good reason to check them out. I would bet that you never advertise in that manner do you madpaddy?
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