Shopping for a car-sharing vehicle? Put guest safety at the top of your list.

Jan 26, 2022 4 min read

Hosts can provide the safest and most reliable vehicles for guest bookings by identifying and avoiding those with branded titles

One of the most important parts of the vehicle purchase process for Getaround hosts (and for any car shopper, really), is making sure you’re fully informed about your potential new vehicle’s history.

Cars that have been involved in major accidents, have been rebuilt, or have come with any other potential issues that could impact the owner or drivers are assigned branded titles for their entire lifetime.

Knowing more about what a branded title is, what the common types are, and how to avoid purchasing a car with one can not only save hosts a lot of time and hassle, it can also protect your guests from booking and driving risky cars.

What are branded/salvaged titles?

A branded title means that the car was once declared a total loss or comes with some other major problem. Title branding is assigned by state agencies (not private companies), are tied to an individual Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), and they do last for the car’s lifetime. So even if the car is repaired to perfection, and all evidence of the previous accident is “undone,” the branded title distinction will never be removed.

Some examples of common branded titles include:

  • Lemon title: A “lemon” is a car that is known to be excessively defective or poorly-made from the moment it leaves the factory floor. Lemon laws, which can vary by state, exist to protect consumers from purchasing faulty vehicles, and the lemon title designation is one way to flag a car like this, protecting potential buyers.
  • Odometer rollback title: As the name suggests, this designation is used to identify situations where a car’s mileage has been altered or the odometer has otherwise been tampered with. While this doesn’t necessarily suggest previous damage or mechanical risks with the vehicle, it’s important to know a car’s true mileage in order to assess its value, stay up to date with maintenance, and get in front of any potential wear and tear issues that come with high mileage.
  • Water damage title: Cars that have been previously flooded can be tricky situations for buyers. On one hand, a majority of the cosmetic damage that happens when a vehicle takes on water can be covered up and repaired fairly easily. However, the mold and mildew resulting from water damage can do significant damage to sensitive engine parts and other precise instruments throughout the car. This designation is quite common in states that experience hurricanes and other severe weather events.
  • Salvage and rebuild title: When a car is in a major accident, and the cost to repair exceeds its total market value, it’s declared a total loss, or “totaled.” When this happens, it’s usually determined by the car owner’s  insurance company and it attributes a salvage title to that car’s VIN for the remainder of its life. In instances where a salvage titled car is repaired and rebuilt to what can be considered “roadworthy condition” by the state’s titling agency, then that car will be given a rebuild title.
  • Clean title: When a vehicle has not experienced significant accident damage, has no history of odometer fraud, is free of any open safety recalls from the manufacturer that require it to be returned, then it is considered a “clean,” or without a branded title.

Which branded title poses the greatest risk to guests?

Out of all branded titles, salvage titles pose the greatest risk to owners and drivers. Many cars with salvage titles can have compromised crumple zones and seat belts, which can leave the driver without critical protection in the event of an accident. There can also be damage to the electrical system, which poses an increased fire hazard.

Additionally, salvage car rebuilders often use money-saving tactics to restore these vehicles, which can mean cutting corners on safety measures.

While not all vehicles with branded titles are unsafe, especially if the repair work has met the standards necessary to be given a rebuild title. But it’s important to understand what each distinction means, and to let that inform your decision-making process.

Are cars with salvage titles eligible to be shared on Getaround?

Per our eligibility requirements, cars that have been issued a salvage title are not eligible to be shared on Getaround.

How can I avoid purchasing a vehicle with a branded title?

Part of every host’s process, when considering a purchase, should be to request a full vehicle history report from CARFAX. It’s a great resource for learning about a vehicle’s entire history, including any branded title assignments. Knowing about branded titles as soon as possible can avoid the cost and headache of having a vehicle delisted or worse — putting a guest in harm’s way by sharing an unsafe car.

One more thing to be mindful of is title washing. This is when a seller knowingly lists a vehicle with a branded title for sale in a state where the title designation did not occur and may not be recognized. Requesting a Vehicle History Report is a great way to avoid this, as these reports give you a complete and detailed history of the vehicle, accessing databases and lists from every state, not just the one in which you’re making the purchase.  

Hosts should also be in the habit of regularly running reports for any cars you own that you’re planning to share on Getaround, to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Vehicle owners that think there is an error on a Vehicle History Report can request a correction directly from CARFAX.

Now that you know more about branded titles, Getaround is counting on you to help us continue to facilitate a safe, reliable and trusted carsharing marketplace for our guests. Being informed about a vehicle’s full history saves you time and money, and puts everyone’s safety at the forefront.

If you’re not a host yet, sign up today, and start earning money with your car.  

Already a host, but want to add another car? Reach out to our Happiness Team or your Account Manager to schedule new vehicle onboarding.