Vehicle Title - What is It?


According to the definition provided by Investopedia (, a certificate of title is a document that “provides documentary evidence of the right of ownership.” Vehicle titles are issued by state agencies to identify the owner of a vehicle, and gives the holder a legal right to the ownership of the vehicle. In Arizona, you must apply for a new title when you purchase a new or used vehicle, change ownership of a vehicle, or when it is registered for the first time within the state. This includes purchases from private parties, out-of-state dealers, refinancing the vehicle, or adding or removing an owner from the vehicle’s title.

What it the Difference Between Vehicle Title and Registration?

Registration of your vehicle is different from obtaining a title on the vehicle although these processes go together. When you register your car with the state, you are given a license plate and a proof of registration sticker and document. The registration documents prove your have shown proof of ownership (title), that the vehicle is roadworthy and that fees and taxes have been paid to the state. is Arizona’s Directory for
ADOT Authorized Third Party

Motor Vehicle Service Providers

What is a Salvage Title?

When an automobile is declared a total loss by an insurance company, the vehicle is identified as a salvage vehicle. Once it receives this designation, it can be sold for parts or sold “as is” to company that rebuilds vehicles to be restored. A salvage vehicle cannot be driven and cannot be issued a state license plate until is repaired and deemed roadworthy.

What is a Rebuilt Title ?

According to CarFax, the definition of a rebuilt title is “a title that is placed upon a rebuilt or reconstructed vehicle that previously was a salvage vehicle.” Guidelines for rebuilt vehicles vary from state to state, but as a general rule the rebuilt vehicle must be inspected before a rebuilt title can be issued for the vehicle. After inspection and the issueing of a rebuilt title, the vehicle may be driven on the highways.

What is a Branded Title?

A title brand is an indicator to warn a potential car buyer that a used car may have been damaged, reconstructed after damage, deemed a “lemon” other negative “red flags” that may affect the value or the safety of the vehicle.

Brands do vary from state to state, but the most common ones include:

  • Odometer roll-back
  • A lemon
  • Flood damage
  • Salvage from a total loss
  • Reconstructed after car is designated as a total loss by the insurance company.

There are various agencies that a potential buyer can check if they have questions about any of these issues:

  • Office of Odometer Fraud Investigations, a division of Nationa Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
  • An AutoCheck vehicle history report will tell you if the vehicle if designated a lemon.
  • Also contact your state’s department of motor vehicles to find out about the lemon laws in your state. (Lemon laws vary from state to state).
  • AutoCheck can also determine if the vehicle has a title brand for “Salvage” or “Rebuilt Salvage”, and if it has a Water Damage Title Brand.

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