How to Get a Rebuilt Title in Hawaii

You can get a rebuilt title in Hawaii if you’re a licensed salvage mechanic, make all the necessary repairs, and pay a fee.
Written by Melanie Johnson
To acquire a rebuilt title in Hawaii, you’ll need to hire a licensed salvage mechanic to make all the necessary repairs. Then, visit a city hall office and pay the rebuilt salvage fee.
  • Occasionally, a salvage vehicle may be rebuilt to industry standard and sold to a new owner if repairs are possible. 
  • Before a salvage vehicle can be driven again, it will need a rebuilt title to verify the necessary repairs were made.
  • In Hawaii, getting a title for a rebuilt vehicle involves acquiring the salvage title, applying for a rebuilt title, hiring a licensed mechanic to conduct the necessary repairs, and submitting the appropriate paperwork to the city.

What is a rebuilt title?

A certificate of title is a document that shows a vehicle’s legal proof of ownership. More specifically, a
rebuilt title
is used to describe a vehicle that was once deemed a total loss by a car insurance company but has been rebuilt to be driven safely.
A car is considered a
salvage title
car when the damage to it exceeds more than half of its market value. 
In most cases, a totaled motor vehicle will be written off by the insurance company and sold for parts in a salvage yard. But some vehicles may be able to be rebuilt to be made roadworthy again.
After a state-approved mechanic repairs and inspects a salvaged vehicle, you can apply for a rebuilt title.

Does my car need a rebuilt title?

A car with a salvage title is not fit to drive, so if you plan to drive or sell your car, you will need a rebuilt title.
Buyers are typically advised
not to purchase salvage certificate vehicles
because they are uninsurable in their present condition, so you will likely have a hard time selling a car with a salvage title. A rebuilt title car that is safe to drive and insure is more appealing when it comes time for resale. 
Keep in mind: The process of getting a rebuilt title is not easy—it takes a significant investment of time and money. You’ll have to take the car to an authorized mechanic to complete repairs and go to a satellite city hall office to apply for the title. But acquiring a rebuilt title will greatly improve your chances of selling your car.
Pro tip: Before buying a salvage title vehicle, get a
vehicle history report
and confirm it’s consistent with the information on the vehicle title.

How to get a rebuilt title in Hawaii

Though the process for acquiring a rebuilt title is streamlined in Hawaii, it is still a lengthy and potentially costly undertaking. 
Getting a rebuilt title in Hawaii consists of two major steps:
  • Applying for a salvage title
  • Making the necessary vehicle repairs

1. Apply for the salvage title

A salvage title is needed before beginning any repairs to the vehicle. To acquire a salvage title, you’ll need to exchange your car’s original title, registration, and license plates at your satellite city hall office. 
Each Hawaiian county has a slightly different process for salvage title vehicle applications and applicable fees. Check with your county’s
vehicle services division
for the complete process to acquire your salvage title.

2. Make the necessary repairs to your vehicle

Unlike many states, Hawaii does not allow you to rebuild the car yourself. You’ll need to take the car to an approved
repair salvaged dealer
(RSD) to make the necessary repairs.
While this may seem like an extra step, taking your vehicle to an accredited mechanic to conduct the necessary repairs and vehicle inspection means a streamlined process in the long run. You’ll have no problem re-registering the rebuilt car with the state once repairs are complete.
After the car is rebuilt, the mechanic will need to sign a certification that the vehicle has been rebuilt back to the manufacturer’s specifications and has passed inspection.

Essential documents for a rebuilt Hawaii title

You’ll need to bring the following documents to your DMV to acquire a rebuilt title in Hawaii:
  • The car’s salvage title
  • The car’s original clean title, registration, and license plates
  • Certification from the RDS that the vehicle has been rebuilt accordingly
  • Certification from the RDS that the vehicle has been inspected
However, each county has its own inspection fees and additional necessary documentation. For the specifics on what you’ll need, contact your county’s licensing agency:
  • Hawaii County: (808) 961-8234
  • Maui County: (808) 270-7363
  • Kauai County: (808) 241-4200
  • Honolulu County: (808) 768-9100
Key Takeaway Hawaii requires salvage titles to be repaired by authorized state-approved mechanics. If you do not submit documentation certified by an RSD, your title will not be released.

How long does a rebuilt title take in Hawaii?

The process of applying for a rebuilt title in Hawaii will vary—it depends on the labor time, as well as your city hall’s processing time. 
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It depends. You can often find great deals on cars with rebuilt titles in Hawaii. Many of these vehicles have been repaired and are now safe to drive. On the other hand, rebuilt titles are easy to pass off with hidden defects—so be cautious when purchasing one.
The price of getting a rebuilt title in Hawaii depends on certain factors and will vary by county. Each county establishes its own application and inspection fees—and additional costs are determined by the state’s Department of Finance.
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