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What are the different car titles?

What are the different car titles

Titles are state-issued documents that act as legal proof of ownership. Better known as a pink slip, they have to be transferred from the dealership to the first owner to give them the full benefits and responsibilities over the car.

Car titles are not only used to provide ownership, but also classify the vehicle depending on its history and condition. Itís a very useful piece of paper that informs you if a car has been imported, rebuilt, or even scrapped. In this guide, weíll go through the most common car titles and explain their significance.


Clear Title

Clear title is provided when a car has no outstanding debt associated with it and has not been involved in a major accident. Typically, itís the only type of title that is eligible for a car loan. Clear title cars are the best option when buying a used car from a private seller.

Certificate of Origin

A certificate of origin is issued by the manufacturer of the vehicle to the dealership selling the car. It is used to transfer the car from the dealership to the first owner and shows where the vehicle was made.

Export & Import Titles

The export title needs to be created if you plan to sell the car outside the country. Itís one of several documents required for a successful transfer of the car to a foreign buyer.

When youíre importing a car, if documentation checks out, it will be given an import title to signify it hasnít been purchased new in the United States. If youíre not the one importing the vehicle, checking the import title will tell you when the vehicle arrived in the country.

Salvage Title

When a vehicle is severely damaged in an accident, suffers critical engine failure, or gets stolen, the insurance company can decide to label it with a salvage title. In some states, a vehicle that suffers more than 60% damage has to be labeled as salvaged.

In many cases, an insurance company will pay out a total loss value on the vehicle, even if it suffered minimal damage. This happens when the cost of repairs significantly exceeds the total cost of a vehicle, which is often the case with older high-class or rare cars.

As salvage cars can be registered for use on public roads, you could get a car with minor damage for a fraction of its actual value. However, thereís a catch. The car that has been deemed salvaged will be much more difficult to resell, and any attempts to hide or change the title will result in serious criminal charges.

Junk Title

When a car is sold to a junkyard, it receives a junk title to designate it as a scrap or parts vehicle. The main difference between a junk and salvage title is that a junked car can never be registered or insured. Since removing the junk title is nearly impossible and very expensive, junk cars should be avoided unless you need a parts donor.

Rebuild Title

There are different names for this title, such as rebuilt, reconstructed, or repaired, and they all signify a salvaged car that has been restored to the point where it passes all insurance and road regulations.

Affidavit Title

A vehicle that is missing a significant portion of its documentation can be issued an affidavit title. Itís a technical term for saying that the vehicleís history is unknown.

Bonded Title

Similar to affidavit title, a bonded title is used when the ownership history of a vehicle is not certain, and there is a possibility that an unknown owner could appear with legitimate documentation. A bonded title includes a cash reserve in the value of the vehicle to protect the current owner.

Lienholder Title

Lienholder title signifies that the car has a tie with the original lienholder, meaning it has not been paid out in full. Usually, transferring a financed car requires you to pay it out in full to cut ties with the lienholder to avoid ownership problems.

Odometer Rollback Title

If the carís odometer has been rolled back to decrease mileage and scam future owners, it will receive a permanent odometer rollback title. The actual mileage cannot be restored, but with the right tools, you can get a fairly accurate estimate.

Water Damage Title

Significant water damage to a car is nearly impossible to repair or determine, as symptoms might emerge at a later date. Because of the uncertain condition of the vehicle, a water damage title is issued.