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Blaise Reader
6/1/17 11:48 a.m.

Been in the market for an FRS/BRZ. As expected, there's TONS for sale with R-titles.

Reasons given:

-Flooded Engine (replaced)

-Front end crash, needed hood/fenders (so many of these)

-Theft Recovery

-Hail Damage

-etc, etc

So the market for an R title car is between 10-12k, and a clear title car is 14-16k. Call it $4k diff. This is for 13-14s with <50k miles and manual. I'm good enough at doing inspections to tell if something was done right. However, the question is whether the ~$4k discount is worth it. I'm also well aware that there's tons of clear-titled cars floating around that have been repaired but never had the title branded.

The way I see it, if for some reason I wanted to get rid of my future FT86, I can't imagine a ~10k car depreciating lower than 6k, whereas I can definitely see a ~15k one dropping near 10. It's also nice to put out less cash to begin with.

Or am I missing something and should run away from R-titled cars?

John Welsh
John Welsh MegaDork
6/1/17 12:00 p.m.

R-title cars start life like this at an Insurance Auction as a Salvage Title. From there, they are repaired and then typically inspected by the state to get the title moved from a Salvage Title (cant get plates for) to a Rebuilt title proving it is good and road worthy.

When shopping R-title many of the people selling will be the same person who repaired it. If this is the case, tell the seller that you want a copy of all the documentation that they provided the state to get the fresh, R-title approved. If they can't/won't give you that then walk away.
What this will do is show you how extensive the original damage was and maybe help to expose which corners were cut.

In Ohio, the documentation includes the need to provide receipts for the parts bought. If the parts bought were used then it requires VIN numbers to be provided from the used cars that donated parts. These VINs are to assure that chop shop, stolen car parts were not used in the rebuild.

penultimeta HalfDork
6/1/17 12:56 p.m.


java230 SuperDork
6/1/17 1:11 p.m.

In reply to John Welsh :

Interesting, Ohio Re-VINs the cars though dont they? I have one that came from Ohio with a new Ohio VIN plate attached to it. It was front clipped, so the front and rear factory VIN's dont match (or something)

And if I was in the market I would want a pretty good discount for a branded title. like 30-40% or so

Blaise Reader
6/1/17 1:14 p.m.
java230 wrote: And if I was in the market I would want a pretty good discount for a branded title. like 30-40% or so

That's roughly what it is. If it was $1-2k I wouldn't care. $4-5k on a $15k purchase and it's an idea...

Donebrokeit Dork
6/1/17 1:14 p.m.

As a general rule a car with an "R" title/ salvage / totaled... Will always be worth less than a non branded car untill the car reaches the bottom or what ever the price point people stop caring about this ($3K around here) then it will not matter.

As for documentation, best of luck on that as I had/ kept very little when I was rebuilding cars.

If you are planning to sell the car in a few years buy a non branded car as it will hold it's value better and will be easer to sell. Now if you are a "end user" like myself then I would buy the branded car.

Paul B

CobraSpdRH Reader
6/1/17 1:43 p.m.

I believe I have seen insurance listed as one possible reason to stick with a clean titled car. Apparently some insurance will not cover an "R" title (or will charge a premium) or something along those lines. Something to consider.

KyAllroad PowerDork
6/1/17 2:20 p.m.

When I bought my 97 Miata 3ish years ago I paid $2,400 for it and the title looked fine. I sent it off at the clerks office to get it transferred to my name and it came back as rebuilt. Apparently the car had been totaled back in 2007 or so. My insurance company is happy to cover it and I don't ever plan to sell it so in my case it doesn't really matter.

*I considered going back to the seller but he was a POS and lives 120 miles away so it would have been a wasted effort.

z31maniac MegaDork
6/1/17 2:23 p.m.

Keep in mind, most states there isn't full coverage available for salvage title vehicles. So it will be liability only.

Blaise Reader
6/1/17 2:41 p.m.
CobraSpdRH wrote: I believe I have seen insurance listed as one possible reason to stick with a clean titled car. Apparently some insurance will not cover an "R" title (or will charge a premium) or something along those lines. Something to consider.

Only thing my agent said it affects is value if it was totaled and I claimed it.

Devilsolsi Reader
6/1/17 3:12 p.m.

As others have said it will be much more difficult to sell a car with a branded title later on. Most people will stay away. Even a minor accident on Carfax scares a lot of buyers. If you are planning to keep the car forever or turn it into a track car then go for it, otherwise I think it is worth the extra money for something without history.

Duke MegaDork
6/1/17 4:05 p.m.

State Farm will only write liability on a branded car, not comprehensive or collision.

rande New Reader
6/1/17 4:26 p.m.

Check with your insurance company. Some will not insure salvaged vehicles. Some companies will insure them but then they charge the same as a non-salvaged vehicle but if you have a claim they pay out at a salvage value. Not at the same value you have been paying for.

red_stapler Dork
6/1/17 4:30 p.m.

If you're not paying cash, a bank might not finance an r-titled car, or do so at a higher interest rate.

tjbell Reader
6/1/17 5:36 p.m.

We sell some R title cars that we rebuild at my dealership, (in MA if it matters) and the banks we use don't even blink at it. They will finance 80% of nada clean retail, and never had a problem with a customer's insurance but YMMV

yupididit Dork
6/1/17 6:35 p.m.

I know there's great deals on rebuilt s2000 cars that were stolen. Usually the seats, top, and wheels had to be replaced. Deep discount and a new top and seats.

Dusterbd13 UltimaDork
6/1/17 6:48 p.m.

I have bought a few salvage title cars. Only one was worse than expected when i owned it.

Just do your due diligence and be prepared to own it until it is only worth 3-4k. Much higher value than that and its hard to move.

chrispy HalfDork
6/2/17 9:07 a.m.
Duke wrote: State Farm will only write liability on a branded car, not comprehensive or collision.

This is what I was told too. Depending on the age (and price) of the car, I wouldn't care, like my $800 E21 BMW that came back with an undisclosed R-title, but something newer, I'd pass.

OHSCrifle SuperDork
4/28/21 7:30 p.m.

Really like my 2016 Outback. Its trade value is high and it has 112k miles.


Because I have automotive ADD.. I was browsing CL and found a 2018 Outback 3.6R limited with 24k miles. Very nice car but Rebuilt.

Saw photos before repair and it was a front collision. Hood and both fenders. Core support. Likely some suspension parts. Steering wheel and left A pillar air bags popped. Photos don't really show it but I likely unibody damage - if it was only body panels it would have been repaired for the original owner...  wouldn't it?


Rebuilder paid $7200 for it and asking $19k. It'd be high 20's car with clean title. The seller/rebuilder specializes in late model Subarus, is very transparent with photos and willing to share parts info. Lots of happy customer reviews. I'm thinking about it but pretty conservative with stuff like this so it'll probably remain a thought exercise.



MrChaos UltraDork
4/28/21 7:43 p.m.

State farm will also not insure a car that they totaled.

93gsxturbo SuperDork
4/28/21 7:49 p.m.

Is it worth it for $4k?

Short answer:  No

Long answer:  Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Just remember.  “The Bitterness of Poor Quality Remains Long After the Sweetness of Low Price is Forgotten”

gearheadmb SuperDork
4/28/21 8:33 p.m.

Dont buy a flood car. They will continue to break, a little at a time, forever.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/28/21 9:03 p.m.

I did a couple R-title cars.  I should have learned my lesson on the first one, but I didn't.

First was a GMC Sonoma.  I happened to see it before the repairs were done so I knew it was cosmetic.  Someone had sideswiped the driver's side so it needed all new body panels and a little straightening to the B pillar.  They just bought an entire left side from LKQ and welded it on.  To give you an idea of how minimal the damage was, the accident never even touched the tires or wheels, and didn't break the side windows, but it was just a complete scraped-up side

So I knew it was ok, but trying to sell it?  Forget it.  It took me six months, I took a bath on it, and I promised I would never do it again.

Then I did it again.  (stupid)  At least that time I didn't take quite as much of a bath because I bought it super cheap.

My rule is just don't.  You will instantly limit your resale audience to people with judgement that is at least as bad as mine.  Easily 80% of buyers don't even read past the R-title.  It's an instant, hard pass.

OHSCrifle SuperDork
4/29/21 4:54 a.m.

In reply to Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) :

Thank you Curtis

z31maniac MegaDork
4/29/21 8:11 a.m.

No, but anymore I don't even really like buying used cars unless I can get one from an adult enthusiast. 

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