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Can an auto dealer sell you a salvage/junk/rebuild vehicle without informing you?

When buying a vehicle, not everyone is free to purchase a car outright. Generally, buying a new vehicle right at the year ti has come out can be an expensive venture. Especially for those that are attempting to get  vehicle for their children, or a starter vehicle for their family, looking at brand new cars may not be the way to go.

However, when searching in the used car and vehicle part of the lot, make sure to always research the vehicles. Some that have been used come with long histories and backgrounds, resulting in a possible vehicle that may warrant more work than necessary to maintain.

In some cases, even, the car may be labeled as a salvage/junk/rebuild vehicle, which differs slightly when talking about used vehicles. But how different could they be? And are auto dealers obligated to inform you about them? The answer may surprise you.

What does Salvage/Junk/Rebuild mean?

The terms salvage, junk, and rebuild all hold somewhat the same general definition, with different minor details between them all. A salvage vehicle is a vehicle that has been met with substantial damage to the interior and exterior. This can be due to numerous reasons, such as heavy flooding destroying the vehicle, or a motor vehicle totaling it. In these cases, the vehicle has been written off and considered as a total loss by the insurance company that has paid out the damages claim for that particular vehicle.

A junk vehicle is a vehicle that has not seen many accidents or incidents, but has outlived its lifespan as a vehicle. These are generally vehicles that have been alive for more than 10 years, and have heavy issues related to general breakdown. In these cases, the junk vehicle title means that the vehicle has been deemed old enough, or damaged enough, to be used for selling parts instead of constantly repairing it. The items that can be sold are generally the engine, framework, or other accessories that may still be in working condition, or may just need some work to be fixed back up.

A rebuilt vehicle is a vehicle that has undergone significant changes and repairs to bring it back to a current working form. These are generally older model vehicles, and some antique vehicles are also considered rebuilt vehicles. These vehicles may look the same on the outside, but have significantly different internals, such as a rebuilt engine or interior. Although they may run well and smoothly, it can be difficult to determine how good the repair is, and how long it will continue to hold. As such, this label must be applied to vehicles that have undergone extensive rebuilding processes to become road-worthy once again.

Why does this Matter?

If a vehicle has been labeled as salvage, junk, or rebuild, then it is fair to assume that they have had massive work done on them, or to them. In turn, these vehicles may require more work than they are bought for, resulting in a net loss for some customers. For someone that is specifically looking to buy a working vehicle, these may be seen as bad investment plans for the future, as the more accidents and issues they have had in the past will increase their chances of an issue occurring in the future.

Do Dealerships have to Inform you if they come with said license?

In most states, a dealership is required to tell you in clear terms that a vehicle has been labeled as a salvage, rebuild, or junk vehicle. If they do not, they are liable for being sued for being negligent towards the buyer, as it would be seen as being dishonest.As such, you will always be informed if a vehicle in a used section has been through harder and more difficult situations than others.

Some dealerships will attempt to skirt this rule by sliding in a fine print disclaimer or warning. They will slip in the contract that states, in very fine print, that the vehicle is labeled as a salvage or junk vehicle, and that you approve and understand this condition. They may also attempt to outright lie by saying that they had no idea or indication that the vehicle had a salvage or junk title. This is by far a lie, as all dealerships will always know the title history of the vehicle that they purchase and attempt to sell off.

If you do happen to run into this issue, and learn that your vehicle has actually come with a salvage, rebuild, or junk license, make sure to reach out to an experienced attorney in the auto industry. Having an experienced attorney will allow you to build a case against them to sue them, potentially saving other customers from having to deal with shady dealerships.

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