How to Get a Rebuilt Title in Tennessee

You can get a rebuilt title in Tennessee by submitting the application, required documents, and applicable fees to the Tennessee DOR.
Written by Sarah Gray
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To get a rebuilt title in
Tennessee
, you’ll need to submit an application for motor vehicle identification certification along with your salvage certificate, parts receipts, before and after vehicle photos, and required fees to the Tennessee Department of Revenue (DOR).
  • If your vehicle has been declared a total loss, scrapping it is not your only option.
  • By following the right steps and performing the necessary repairs, you may be able to get your car back on the road again with a rebuilt title.
  • Be sure to keep receipts and document the rebuild process with before and after photos

What is a rebuilt title?

Rebuilt title cars
are vehicles that were previously declared totaled but have since been repaired to safe and legal operating standards. 
Guidelines vary by state, but in Tennessee, a car will be declared “salvage” or a total loss if the cost of repairs exceeds 75% of the vehicle’s retail value. A rebuilt title is issued once the salvaged vehicle has been sufficiently repaired, so it can then be registered for road use.
In Tennessee, about 6,000 vehicles a month are deemed a total loss following an accident or other damage. 

Salvage title vs rebuilt title

When a vehicle is declared a total loss in Tennessee, you can either
keep the car
or sign it over to your insurance company. 
If you choose to keep the car, you have two options:
  • Get a non-repairable certificate: This allows you to keep the vehicle to use for parts, or sell it to a scrap or dismantling company. If you go this route, be aware that vehicles that have been issued non-repairable certificates can never be titled or registered again.
  • Apply for a salvage certificate: You can do this if the car is less than 10 years old, which allows you to repair the vehicle and potentially title and register it in the future.
The bottom line: If you want to legally drive a totaled vehicle again, you have to repair it and get a rebuilt title.

How to get a rebuilt title in Tennessee

Getting a rebuilt title in any state can be a complicated process, but in Tennessee, it’s comparatively easy. You do have a lot of forms to fill out and fees to pay, but the step-by-step guide below should simplify things immensely.

1. Apply for the salvage title

The first thing you’ll have to do if you wish to rebuild your vehicle is apply for a salvage title, so you can keep it. Luckily, this is the easy part of the process.
To apply for a salvage title with the TN Department of Revenue (DOR), simply gather the following items:
Submit the documents by mail to: Tennessee Department of Revenue, Vehicle Services Division, Anti-Theft Unit, 500 Deaderick Street, Nashville, TN 37242.
Once you receive your salvage title: You can begin the process of repairing your vehicle, and eventually, processing the new title and registration.
MORE: How to insure a car with a salvage title

2. Make the necessary repairs to your vehicle

Before you make your first repair: Take several full-color “before” photographs of the vehicle, which you’ll submit with your application for rebuilt title at the end of this whole process. 
These photos should cover the vehicle from all angles to ensure all damage is documented. You’ll take these same color photographs again once repairs are completed.
Before you begin repairs, you should also download an
Application for Motor Vehicle Identification Certification
(Form RV-F1315401) to keep track of and disclose all parts you repair and replace during the rebuilding process. This form will need to be notarized before submitting it to the DOR as part of your application for a rebuilt title.
Be sure to save all bills of sale, invoices, and receipts for component parts. Make copies of each for your own records, as you’ll be sending the originals to the DOR. 
Here are some additional notes about what must be included on all receipts:
  • All receipts must include the buyer’s and seller’s name and mailing address 
  • Receipts for salvage parts must include the make, model, year, and vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle from which salvage parts were taken
  • Receipts for new parts must indicate the parts are new
  • Receipts for parts from an in-house supply must include a copy of the front and back of the car title to prove ownership
Not all of us are geniuses in the garage: If you hire someone to perform your rebuild, the TN DOR requires a notarized
General Affidavit
(Form RV-F1311001) stating the rebuilder’s name and full mailing address.

3. Apply for Tennessee rebuilt title

Once your repairs are complete, and your car is roadworthy, it’s time to apply for your Tennessee rebuilt title. 
While it’s not required on all vehicles, you may be required to pass an anti-theft inspection as part of the titling process.
Apply for a rebuilt title by submitting the following by mail to the TN DOR: 
  • The vehicle’s title
  • A completed and notarized Application for Motor Vehicle Identification Certification (Form RV-F1315401)
  • A completed and notarized General Affidavit (Form RV-F1311001) (if you hired someone to perform your rebuild)
  • Full-color photos of the vehicle both before and after repairs were made
  • All receipts, bills of sale, and/or invoices for replacement parts
  • Check or money order for the $75 rebuilt title fee
Mail all of the above to: Tennessee Department of Revenue, Vehicle Services Division, Anti-Theft Unit, 500 Deaderick Street, Nashville, TN 37242.
If an anti-theft vehicle inspection is required to title your rebuilt car: The DOR will inform you of when and where it will take place. To help facilitate the inspection process, call the TN DOR’s Anti-Theft Unit at (615) 253-7246 to confirm everything is in order for your inspection appointment. 
At the inspection, you’ll need to provide:
  • Bills of sale, receipts, and invoices—the DOR should have these, but this is where those copies you made during the repair process can also come in handy.
  • An affidavit stating the car was repaired to the manufacturer’s and state’s standards for operation and safety.
Once your vehicle passes the anti-theft inspection, the inspector will stamp your salvage title as certified and return all other documents you originally submitted to the DOR (except your before and after photos) to you for use in obtaining your rebuilt title.
If your vehicle doesn’t require an anti-theft inspection: The DOR will return all the above documents to you to use in obtaining your rebuilt title.

4. Obtain your rebuilt title

Now that you’ve gone through the anti-theft certification process, you’re ready to pick up your rebuilt title. 
To do so, all you have to do is take all the documents you just got back from the DOR to your
local county clerk’s office
They’ll verify your documentation and provide you with a rebuilt title that will allow you legally to drive your once-totaled car on Tennessee’s public roads again!
Key Takeaway Keep track of all your paperwork, and don’t forget to take pictures of your car BEFORE the repairs start.

Should you buy a car with a rebuilt title?

Buying a car
with a rebuilt title is a great way to get a good price on what might otherwise be a more expensive vehicle, but it could have underlying issues and mechanical problems that might not surface for years. You’ll be responsible for what could potentially be very expensive repairs.
There’s also the issue of insurance. Because of the reliability issues associated with rebuilt vehicles, many providers are hesitant to offer
full-coverage car insurance
. You should still be able to get Tennessee’s state-mandated minimum
liability coverage
, but that will leave you unprotected if you’re at fault in an accident.
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FAQs

Yes. Getting a rebuilt title from the DMV can be a bit of a hassle, but once you have it, it means your car is safe and legal to drive.
No. When you
have a clean car title
, it means your vehicle has never been totaled. A salvage title car can only get a rebuilt title—never a clean title.
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