Reconstructed Title to Clean Title | How to Get

Reconstructed Title to Clean Title

Legally, there is no way to change a reconstructed title to clean title. But that does not mean that dishonest people do not walk their way around this restriction. A car with a reconstructed title is simply a car that has been rebuilt or repaired to meet the state’s operational standards.

Therefore, a car that has a reconstructed title initially received a salvage title. When an insurance company declares a vehicle totaled and notifies the DMV, the vehicle receives a salvage title. Usually, such cars require expensive repairs, which an insurance company determines are uneconomical to spend.

Once these cars get fixed up and pass an inspection, they receive a new title brand known as a reconstructed title. But can you change that reconstructed title to a clean title?

What Does it Mean to Reconstruct a Title?

A car with a reconstructed title means that it used to have a salvage title but has been repaired, and thus, issued a reconstructed title. Before a state issues a reconstructed title, the car must have passed a series of inspection tests to determine that it’s safe to drive again.

Understand that a reconstructed title is better when compared to a salvage title in terms of registration and sales value. When you buy a used car with a reconstructed title, you can register it, get insurance, and drive it without much trouble. That’s not so easy with a salvage title.

Before buying a car with a rebuilt title, you must inspect it in person and make sure it’s good to go.

Do not be confused; a reconstructed title is the same as a “Rebuilt title”. While most states call it a “Rebuilt” title, states such as Pennsylvania (PA) and New Mexico (NM) call it a “Reconstructed” title.

Buying reconstructed cars can save money, but it’s not a good choice for everyone because it comes with some risks.

Most used cars have a clean title, meaning they have probably never been badly damaged. But sometimes, you’ll find cars with reconstructed or rebuilt titles that cost less.

Reconstructed Title to Clean Title

You probably bought or own a car with a reconstructed title and are wondering if you can legally change the title to a clean one. Well, you have no legal means to get this done. Some people clear reconstructed titles on a car through title washing or title laundering.

Sometimes, when there is an inquiry about the car’s history, such a car may have had a reconstructed/rebuilt title when it was in Pennsylvania. However, when the car is transferred to California, it receives a clean title.

Again, this phenomenon is known as “title washing.” Due to differences in title status codes across states, a car with a “reconstructed” title in one state might receive a “clean” title when transferred to another state. Some people turn a reconstructed title to clean title to intentionally increase the car’s value.

In the past, if a state does not participate in the NMVTIS, it might not be aware of a car’s title brand from another state. Presently, however, it seems all the states participate in the NMVTIS. According to popular opinion, these 5 states may provide data to NMVTIS but do not check it before issuing a new title: California, Idaho, North Carolina, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

Title washing has concerns of uncertainty about the legality of a car, especially if the owner genuinely moved to a new state. Therefore, be cautious and consider getting a pre-purchase inspection.

How Does a Reconstructed Title Affect Value?

A car with a reconstructed title is worth less than the same car with a clean title. The explanation is that a clean title on a car means that the car has never been in a damaging accident. Even if a reconstructed/rebuilt car is repaired to a perfect condition, it may still have a problem, so it’s not as valuable.

If selling a rebuilt car, be prepared to get less money for it than if it had a clean title. People will have questions about its condition, which explains why some people change a reconstructed title to clean title. Being honest can help you find the right buyer and get a fair price.

Can You Insure a Car with a Reconstructed Title?

Many insurance companies can cover a car with a reconstructed title, but you might not get full coverage. If your driving history is good, the insurance cost might differ greatly from a car with a clean title.

Before buying the car, ask your insurance company for a quote and tell them it has a rebuilt title. Usually, you can’t get insurance for a vehicle with a salvage title because it’s not allowed on public roads. Therefore, it is way better to have a reconstructed title car than a salvage one.

Is Buying a Reconstructed Title Bad?

It’s not the same for all reconstructed/rebuilt cars. If planning to buy one, get a report about the car’s history and ask the seller lots of questions about what happened to it and how it was repaired.

You want to only have a deal with a seller who is open and honest. If they can answer your questions well enough, know a lot about the car’s history, and show you pictures of the car after the accident and before the repairs, it might be a good car to buy. But if the seller seems shady or avoids your questions, it’s better to find another car.

Even if the seller is being truthful, buying a car with a reconstructed title can be risky. There might be hidden problems from the accident, which is why one might try to turn a reconstructed title to clean title in the first place. If you do not want to take that risk, it’s better to spend more on a car with a clean title. It’s worth the extra money for peace of mind. A smart step forward is to get a professional check done on the vehicle before you pay for it.

Pros and Cons of Reconstructed Title

Buying a car with a reconstructed title has its upside. But for most experts, there are often more cons than pros.

What are the pros of reconstructed title?

A car with a reconstructed/rebuilt title can save you a lot of money if it is still in good shape. If the vehicle was repaired by a reputable mechanic or body shop, it might be in good condition post-repair. Some vehicles receive a salvage title (and eventually “reconstructed” brand) due to theft or minor damage that does not affect their overall performance.

Buying a rebuilt vehicle is also a form of recycling. Instead of letting damaged vehicles go to waste, they are repaired and put back on the road, reducing the need for new materials and energy to produce a new car.

What are the cons of reconstructed title?

Cars with reconstructed titles can be cheap, but they might have some problems.

  1. Sometimes, you can’t see all the damage right away. For instance, if a car was in a flood, even after fixing what you can see, there might be issues with the electrical system months later because of hidden corrosion.
  2. Selling or trading a car with a reconstructed title can be tough. Dealers won’t offer you a lot for it because they might send it to an auction, not sell it on their lot. Selling it privately is an option, but many buyers avoid cars with rebuilt titles.
  3. Your insurance company might not give you full coverage for cars with rebuilt titles. They might only offer liability insurance.

Read alsoRebuilt Title from Another State? Steps to Register it


  1. FACT SHEET: Reconstructed Vehicle Titling Procedure – PennDOT Fact Sheet 
  2. Chapter 9 – Reconstructed, Rebuilt, Salvage and Nonrepairable Vehicles – New Mexico MVD
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