More than 1million vehicles throughout the U.S. were damaged by accidents or the likes of hail, tornadoes, flooding or thunderstorms during the year’s first six months.
But according to data from Experian Automotive’s AutoCheck system, more than 185,000 of these vehicles lost their damage designation when their titles were “washed,” a practice used by unscrupulous sellers.
When vehicles sustain damage, or experience other major events in their history, they carry “brands” on their titles.
The brands are usually words or symbols on the official vehicle title issued by the U.S. Department of Motor Vehicles.
These brands signify vehicle status or condition. Classifications include salvaged, lemon, rebuilt, reconstructed, water, hail, fire damaged, insurance loss, broken odometer, and abandoned.
More than 15% of damaged vehicles in the first six months of this year lost their damage designation when they were re-titled in another state, AutoCheck’s data shows.
Title-washing is a term used when vehicles are re-titled in other states than where damage was done, and the ‘brand’ is not carried over to the new title.
“Too often, vehicles branded due to some form of severe damage are reconstructed and re-titled without their damage-related brand and then sold to unsuspecting consumers,” says Scott Waldron, president of Experian Automotive.
Experian says its National Vehicle Database houses more than 500 million vehicles.