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Glossary of Vehicle-Related Terms

Acquisition Fees (or Assignment Fees)

An acquisition fee, sometimes referred to as an assignment fee, bank fee, or administrative fee, is a payment you may have to make when you lease a vehicle. In most cases, this fee is paid to the lender and is designed to cover the costs associated with creating a loan (one notable cost being the credit check the lender will run). These fees will vary in amount, with some costing as little as $200, while others may run as high as $1,000.

Active Pedestrian Protection System

An active pedestrian protection system is a safety feature many manufacturers have implemented in their vehicles, notably Polestar, Ford, and BMW. Using cameras and sensors, these systems will alert the driver when a pedestrian is in the front of the car. The exact specifications of the system may vary depending on the brand; when the PPS system in Polestar is activated, for example, an alarm is sent via Polestar connect, and the hood of the vehicle will raise and push back.

Actual Cash Value (ACV)

The actual cash value of a vehicle refers to its current worth and is determined by subtracting the depreciation a vehicle has experienced from its replacement cost. Depreciation will be calculated using a number of factors and vary based on wear-and-tear, car brand, and total mileage. Insurance companies will use the actual cash value of a car to determine whether it is a total loss in the event of an accident. If the damage costs exceed the ACV, the car will likely be declared as “totaled.”


If a car lacks certain items of documentation and the vehicle's complete history is not known to motor vehicle agencies, it may receive an affidavit title. This allows anyone with a legal interest in the vehicle to transfer ownership if the process becomes necessary. Affidavit titles are often needed when a vehicle owner dies but lacks a will or any documentation on the vehicle.

Aftermarket Accessory

Aftermarket accessories, or aftermarket parts, are replacement components for a vehicle that its original manufacturer does not create. These parts are often used to lower the cost of repairs after a car has been damaged. While these parts can sometimes be cheaper, they may also affect the insurance coverage of a vehicle. Some insurers won’t cover aftermarket accessories, and if they do, the limits may be significantly lower. Insurers may also offer additional coverage specifically designed to cover aftermarket accessories.

Agricultural Vehicle

Any vehicle operating primarily on private roads for agricultural purposes should receive an agricultural vehicle title. These vehicles are mainly used to transport farm commodities like feed, fertilizer, seed, livestock, poultry, bees, poultry, and other farm animals.

Air Pollution Score

An air pollution score, more commonly referred to as a smog rating, assesses a vehicle’s tailpipe emissions and their likelihood of contributing to air pollution. The scores range from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest possible rating. Ratings are also separated into different tiers based on federal and certain state standards. For the federal level, which is based on EPA criteria, vehicles are separated between Tier 2, and the more strict, Tier 3. For some states, most notably California, there will be separate standards (In California’s case, the California Air Resources Board uses its own CARB tiers).

Airbag Deactivation

Airbag deactivation is an optional feature automotive professionals may install on a car, given the driver receives approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (or NHTSA). Needing this approval usually relates to medical reasons or childcare requirements. Once authorized, drivers can go to an automotive professional to have an on/off switch installed to disable their airbag when necessary.

Antique Vehicle

The guidelines for what vehicles qualify as "antiques" varies. They depend on what jurisdiction the car is registered in and what organizational definition is used. For the most part, these cars must have been manufactured at least 25 years ago (and in some cases 45-50 years) and not used for commercial purposes. Sometimes there is a monetary requirement as well, with some areas requiring the vehicle to be valued at over $10,000.

Anti-Theft System

Anti-theft systems are safety features many vehicles have to ensure they are not stolen. The methods by which these systems prevent theft may be manual or automatic and include immobilizing technology, kill switches, car alarms, and GPS tracking. Anti-theft systems are encouraged by insurance companies and can reduce a driver's monthly premiums significantly.


Annual percentage rate, or APR, is the cost you’ll pay to maintain a vehicle loan, including any associated fees and the percentage you’ll be charged on the principal. How much you pay for APR will be determined by various factors, including the size of your loan, your credit history, how large your down payment was, what type of vehicle you have, and how long your loan terms last.

Asking Price

The asking price for a vehicle refers to the amount of money the owner is selling their vehicle for. It may also refer to the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, or MSRP, which is the amount a manufacturer recommends a vehicle be sold for. An asking price can often be negotiated, with many sellers accepting lower offers in order to offload a vehicle.

Assembled Vehicle 

An assembled vehicle is a vehicle that has been repaired or reconstructed by an entity separate from the original manufacturer. For a car to get this classification, major components must be replaced, and the car may be repaired with new parts. An assembled vehicle will often get a new title; this will be either a rebuilt, reconstructed, or assembled vehicle title.

Auxiliary Features

Auxiliary features on a vehicle are optional parts installed by a manufacturer that assist or supplement primary systems. These features include power windows, windshield wipers, seat adjusters, door locks, and sunroofs. Auxiliary features also include those that assist major systems, like power steering, alternators, starters, fuel pumps, and power assistance for brakes.


All-wheel drive, or AWD, is a type of drive system that provides power to all four wheels simultaneously. AWD systems can also shift the power between the front and back wheels depending on the traction needs of the vehicle. AWD is provided to a car with three separate differentials, also known as gearboxes, which are located in the rear, center, and front of the vehicle.

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Backup Assistance

Backup assistance is a feature many newer models of vehicles have that helps the driver complete difficult maneuvers, primarily those that involve getting out of parking spots or driveways. Backup assistance systems use a series of cameras or radars to detect objects. Depending on the system, these backup assistance protocols may be automatic or manual. In the case of a manual system, the driver is responsible for watching the camera and adjusting if they see an object. For automatic, the system will react on its own, braking if it predicts a collision.

Balloon Payment

Balloon payments refer to an option offered by certain manufacturers and lenders regarding the final payment on a loan. Balloon payments are a larger lump sum that can reduce your monthly costs by increasing the size of the last loan payment. These payments can be hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars more than your regular monthly payments; because this is riskier, lenders may charge you higher interest rates or fees to compensate.

Base Price

Base price refers to the cost of a vehicle without any optional equipment, registration fees, titles, insurance, or taxes. Optional equipment varies based on what manufacturer you choose but may generally include any equipment that doesn't come with the standard trim; this includes protective coatings, certain safety features, heated seats, sun or moon roofs, and heads-up displays.

Bond Posted

As an outdated vehicle brand, this describes a car that an insurance company has issued a bond. This is usually due to the current driver's inability to prove their legal vehicle ownership. This title brand is no longer valid and was removed from usage on January 17th, 2003.


For vehicles, the term “bonded'' refers to a bonded title, which helps ensure and prove that a specific person is the vehicle’s legal owner. Also known as a Lost Title Bond or Certificate of Title Surety Bond, the car's owner can use a bonded title if the original title goes missing. The primary way drivers use these documents is to establish their ownership in the eyes of legal entities like the Department of Motor Vehicles (or DMV).

Branded Title

Branded titles, or title brands, are a type of title given to a used vehicle that has been in an accident, collision, or otherwise suffered significant damage. The most common branded titles include Reconstructed, Salvage, Junk, Lemon, Flood, and Totaled. Governmental agencies at the state level will give these titles to cars that may be considered unsafe to drive, making these vehicles difficult to insure.

Bump Rate

A bump rate, also referred to as a spread, is the difference between the buy rate (what a dealer pays to finance a loan or lease) and the sell rate (the rate that the dealer sells the financing to you). Bump rates tend to hover around 1%, but dealers will often neglect to disclose the actual amount.

Buyout Amount

A buyout amount refers to the amount you would need to pay to purchase a car you are leasing. This number is usually available on your lease paperwork or monthly leasing statement. A buyout amount is determined by combining the residual value of your vehicle with your remaining payments and any additional fees.

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Cap Reduction 

A capitalized cost reduction, or cap reduction, is a fee you can pay at the start of a lease to lower the overall cost. Similar to a down payment on a car you intend to own, cap reductions lower both the total amount you owe and your monthly payments.

Capitalized Cost

The capitalized cost, sometimes referred to as the lease price, for a leased vehicle refers to its value (plus any additional costs or fees) at the beginning of the lease terms. This cost may change after negotiations, as the final capitalized cost will be a price that you and a dealer agree upon. Because you can negotiate the cap cost, it tends to be lower than the vehicle’s MSRP.

Car Title

A car title is a government-issued document that proves individual ownership. It contains various pieces of information that help identify both the vehicle and owner, including the owner’s name and address, the date the title was issued, mileage on the issue date, the vehicle identification number (VIN), as well as the car's make, model, and year. A title will also contain signatures from the current owner, former owner, and a state official.

Cargo Room

Cargo room, or cargo capacity, refers to the amount of space that a vehicle has in its cargo areas. The precise space this refers to changes based on the type of vehicle: for a standard car, this would be the trunk; for a hatchback, it may be behind the rear seat; and for an SUV or minivan, it may be the total space available when rear seats are removed.

Cash Rebates 

Cash rebates, or car rebates, are manufacturer incentives given to drivers after they buy or lease a new vehicle. To encourage a purchase or loan, these manufacturers will lower the total cost by returning a percentage or sum of the initial vehicle payment. Unlike a discount, you receive this money at a later date.

Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Vehicle

A certified pre-owned vehicle is a car that has been inspected and repaired by the manufacturer for resale purposes. This often makes them a higher quality purchase than regular used cars; they will also usually come with a dealer or manufacturer warranty, as well as other bonuses like roadside assistance, better financing options, and travel expense reimbursements.

Classic Vehicle

For a car to qualify as a classic, it must have been manufactured at least 20 years ago, though this number may increase depending on the state in which the vehicle is registered. These vehicles will carry different insurance premiums and will usually have a higher resale value than a traditional car.

Clear Title

A clear title, commonly referred to as a clean title, indicates that a car has never been declared a total loss. A vehicle with a clear title will also be free of outstanding financial issues and will usually fetch the highest resale price. While it may have problems with its internal mechanics, any required repairs won’t exceed the car’s current total worth.

Closed-End Lease

A closed-end lease refers to an agreement where the person making payments (or lessee) does not have to purchase the vehicle at the end of their terms. The terms on a closed-end lease are often more strict, but the agreement tends to be lower risk. Closed-end leases are often safer because the driver does not have to deal with the risk of their car declining in value (also known as depreciation).

Collision Insurance

Collision insurance is a type of coverage designed to cover any damage your vehicle receives from an object or during certain rollover accidents. This damage can come from several sources: another vehicle, a falling tree or fence, or in the case of an accident, when your car falls or flips. Collision insurance is optional in many areas and will usually only cover the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle.

Collision Title

If a vehicle is in an accident or collision that results in significant damage, it may receive a collision title. Insurance companies use these brands while they wait to determine whether a car can be reasonably rebuilt or needs to be declared salvage.

Combined Fuel Economy

Combined fuel economy refers to the average city and highway MPG a vehicle can achieve. Often called combined MPG, this number is seen as the most accurate assessment of a vehicle's fuel economy. In many cases, combined fuel economy is calculated by weighting the highway MPG by 45% and the city MPG by 55%.

Commercial Vehicle

A commercial vehicle is any vehicle used for the purposes of business. This can include those used to transport goods, paying passengers, fleet vehicles, or company cars. Some of these vehicles require a commercial driver’s license, or CDL, to operate. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has a stricter definition of commercial vehicles, stating that only vehicles engaging on a highway in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property qualify.

Comprehensive Insurance

Comprehensive insurance is a type of coverage that protects your vehicle against non-collision damage. Incidents that qualify for a comprehensive claim include extreme weather events, vandalism, theft, fire, accidents involving animals, and damage to your windshield or other glass components. Comprehensive policies are usually optional, with no states requiring that you carry this coverage type. However, certain lease or loan agreements may require you to retain comprehensive coverage.

Corrected Title

While the definition of “corrected title” varies based on state, it generally refers to a title reissued due to incorrect, missing, or changed information. The reasons why someone may need a corrected title include: the owner has changed, the owner’s name isn’t correct, the mileage is incorrect, or there has been a change in the lienholder.

Crash Test Ratings

Overall rating scores of how safe a vehicle is when it crashes into different items are known as crash test ratings. These scores are designed to predict how well a vehicle will protect occupants during a crash. Two organizations primarily handle these ratings: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The NHTSA gives vehicles a rating out of five stars, evaluating their frontal crash, side barrier crash, and side pole crash capabilities, in addition to their rollover resistance. The IIHS rates vehicles by placing them into four categories: good, acceptable, marginal, or poor. Their evaluation involves testing frontal overlap crash capabilities, roof strength, head restraints, and seat protection.

Credit Score

A credit score is a rating of your credit-related behavior and a way for companies to assess how likely you are to repay a loan on time. The score is determined by your current credit utilization, the number of loans you currently have, how much debt you have left to pay, and various other factors. Lenders may use a specific type of credit score for vehicle loans called a FICO auto score. Your FICO auto score is explicitly based on your behavior relating to past auto loans. A low FICO score may increase your monthly premiums or interest rates; in some cases, it may prevent you from getting an auto loan at all.

Crumple Zone

A crumple zone, or crush zone, is a section of a vehicle designed to absorb the force of an impact. These areas can vary in size and location depending on various factors, including the vehicle’s type, purpose, size, and weight. Crumple zones are an effective safety tool that prevents energy from being transferred to a vehicle’s occupants and redistributes it to other areas where it will do less damage.


Similar to a junk title, a crushed title brand is reserved for cars that have been in a major accident or another significant wreck. These vehicles are heavily damaged and likely will only have value if sold for parts. In the case of a crushed brand, the frame or chassis of a car has been destroyed. This damage is usually too extensive to repair, so repairing the vehicle to the point that it is driveable is not an available option.


Curbstoning is a car-selling scam where a private seller or dealer will offload sub-par vehicles onto unsuspecting buyers. Curbstoning scams are named for the location they often take place: the side of the road or “curb.” Curbstoners may be involved with a dealership, using this technique to sell a car outside their business that doesn’t meet business standards. In most cases, these vehicles are poorly repaired salvage cars designed to look cosmetically functional so sellers can make the maximum profit.

Customer Cash Incentive

A customer cash incentive, also known as bonus cash, is a manufacturer rebate given to buyers to encourage them to purchase a specific vehicle. These incentives can be applied to the sales price of a car or the finance price of a lease. In some cases, a driver or vehicle must meet certain criteria to get a customer cash incentive. This criterion includes showing proof of purchase or previous ownership of another vehicle type (for example, one sold by a competitor).

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Damage Disclosure (Disclosed Damage) 

A damage disclosure statement is a document that outlines any damages a vehicle has suffered. These damages are expressed in terms of their cost. The document generally includes the nature of the damages, a description of the car, the date a professional last inspected the vehicle, and the name of the vehicle’s owner. Drivers living in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa must file damage disclosures before selling their cars, providing a copy of the document to prospective buyers.

Damage Severity

Damage severity is a metric used on documents like a police report to indicate how much a vehicle has been harmed during any given incident. Also referred to as a vehicle damage rating, damage severity is separated into four main categories: N, which indicates minor damage; S, which indicates major but repairable damage; B, which indicates the vehicle is only good for parts; and A, which indicates the car is completely ruined and has no usable parts.

Dealer Holdback

A dealer holdback is a payment made by manufacturers directly to dealers, compensating them for selling a new vehicle. How much a manufacturer pays will vary but will usually be a percentage of either the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) or invoice price. The amount a dealer gets through a holdback can also depend on the make and model of the new vehicle, with some automakers (specifically luxury brands) not offering a dealer holdback at all.

Dealer Incentives

Dealer incentives are a strategy employed by manufacturers to encourage dealerships to sell specific vehicles. These incentives include rebates, discounts, and cash payments, usually targeting models that have seen slowing or poor sales. Dealer incentives increase the profit margins for dealerships while helping manufacturers boost sales for their less popular vehicles.

Dealer Invoice

A dealer invoice is a document outlining the amount a dealership will pay when it receives a vehicle. The value on these invoices that a dealer must pay is known as an invoice price. This price will vary based on the type of vehicle and whether a dealer holdback or any incentives affect the price.

Dealer Prep Fees

Dealer preparation fees are specific costs charged by dealerships to prepare your vehicle after purchase. This fee covers cleaning and other prep procedures your car will undergo before a dealer transfers ownership. While dealer prep fees usually range between $50 and $600, they are often negotiable.

Declarations Page

A declarations page is an insurance document listing information related to your specific policy. These documents will include what vehicles your insurance covers, the different types of coverage you utilize, your policy number, when your coverage went into effect, when your coverage expires, your personal details, your agent’s personal details, what you pay, and what your deductible is.


Car depreciation is the rate at which a vehicle’s value declines over a set period of time. On average, a car will lose half its value in the first five years after purchasing it. How quickly a specific vehicle depreciates will depend on its age, level of wear-and-tear, make and model, how many previous owners it has had, and smaller details like its color.

Dismantled Title

A dismantled title is given to vehicles that have been severely damaged, often to the point where the cost of repairs would exceed the vehicle’s overall value. In this case, the only viable financial option would be to strip the car for parts or “dismantle” it. Much like with salvage titles, a vehicle with a dismantled title is nearly impossible to insure or drive legally.

Disposition Charge (or Disposition Fee)

A disposition fee, sometimes referred to as a disposition charge, is a fee you pay when you return a leased vehicle to the dealership. Dealers charge these fees to cover costs associated with preparing the vehicle for the next driver. These costs usually range between $200 and $500, covering cleaning and repurposing. The exact amount you’ll pay for a disposition fee will depend on the length of your lease terms, the make and model of your vehicle, what state you live in, and what dealership you lease through.

Documentation Charge (or Documentation Fee)

A documentation charge, often referred to as a documentation fee or simply “doc fee,” is a payment charged by dealerships in order to process a vehicle’s paperwork. These fees are meant to cover the labor costs of dealership employees, including staff dealing with the transaction’s financial aspects, titling, registration, and those interacting with the DMV. Doc fees can be negotiated, with some buyers able to avoid paying them altogether.

Down Payment

A down payment on a vehicle is a percentage or portion of a car’s overall cost that can be paid upfront. The average down payment ranges from 10% to 20%; The larger the down payment, the lower your total cost or the size of your monthly payments. Some dealerships will offer special promotions where you do not have to pay a down payment, though this usually doesn’t lower the overall cost of the vehicle.


The Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV, is an organization responsible for a variety of vehicle-related licensing and oversight. Their responsibilities include testing and issuing driver’s licenses, administering vehicle registrations, providing driving records, and transferring titles. The DMV has different names depending on your state: for example, the DMV in Maryland is called the Motor Vehicle Administration (or MVA).

Duplicate Title

A duplicate title is a document designed to replace an original title in the event it is destroyed, damaged, lost, or stolen. It contains all the same information as the original title and can be used to prove or transfer ownership of a vehicle. While the requirements to acquire a duplicate title vary by state, you will need to fill out a replacement title form in most cases. You’ll then need to bring it and a valid form of identification (like your license) to the DMV, along with the processing fee.

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Early Termination

An early termination refers to lease contracts, specifically ending them before the date agreed upon in your terms. Terminating your lease early usually comes with penalties, like an early termination fee, payment of any amount remaining on your lease, the value your car could have after a sale, and more.

Electric Vehicle

An electric vehicle, or EV, is any vehicle that uses electricity to fuel its propulsion system. There are four main types of electric vehicles: all-electric, which have a large battery and fossil fuels whatsoever; a plug-in hybrid, or PHEV, which uses both gas and electricity and can be charged externally; a hybrid electric, or HEV, which uses both electricity and gas but cannot be charged from an external source; and fuel cell electric vehicles, or FCEVs, that convert hydrogen into electricity to power their motor.


Vehicle emissions are a byproduct of fuel combustion and include substances like non-methane organic gasses, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, formaldehyde, and particulate matter. These emissions are harmful to individuals and the environment, creating pollution that can stay in the air and atmosphere. High enough pollution levels can create smog, which has been known to cause difficulty breathing and lung disease.

Emissions Score

A vehicle’s emissions score, or smog rating, is an assessment of its ability to contribute to air pollution. Focusing on vehicle tailpipe emissions, these scores are out of ten (with ten being the cleanest and one being the least clean). 

Equity Lease

An equity lease, or open-end lease, is a type of lease agreement that accounts for vehicle depreciation. Each month, the cost of the vehicle will depreciate a pre-set amount until you reach a balance set by the lessor or dealership. These leases can be risky; in a closed-end lease, the financial risk lies mainly with the lessor, while open-end leases lay the risk primarily on the lessee.

Exceeds Mechanical Limits

If a vehicle has an odometer that has reached the highest mileage it’s capable of displaying, it has “exceeded its mechanical limits.” Older odometers often displayed only five or six numbers, meaning once you reached 99,999 miles or 999,999 miles, the device would stop counting the mileage. In some cases, these devices would also “roll over,” starting the mileage back at 1.

Excess Wear and Tear

Excess wear-and-tear refers to the terms of a lease in which certain condition standards have been established. If the wear on your vehicle exceeds what your lease agreement allows, you may be subject to fines. This wear can include damage to the exterior, broken parts, cracked glass, excessively worn tires, and sub-par repairs.

Exempt Vehicle

An exempt vehicle can refer to a few different situations, primarily a vehicle that is exempt from certain tolls or taxes. These vehicles may belong to car-pool programs or public agencies that aren’t operated for profit, like ambulances or vehicles that transport foreign dignitaries. Depending on the state, it can also refer to vehicles used to train people to drive, farm vehicles, interstate commerce cars, and vehicles driven by those with disabilities.


If a car is registered in the United States but intended for sale outside the country, it will need an export title. This documentation is used by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to ensure that the car is no longer legal to drive within the United States.

Export Only Vehicle

Vehicles with this brand have been specially identified by the U.S. Customers and Border Protection and are determined for exploration outside of the United States. A car with this brand cannot be driven, resold, or registered in the United States or any of its territories.

Extended Warranty

An extended warranty is a guarantee to cover some, or all, of the cost of certain repairs beyond the standard warranty coverage. The manufacturer, dealership, or a third-party company provides these warranties. Extended warranties will cover the vehicle for a set period of time or number of miles depending on the plan you purchase.

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Failed Emissions

Failing an emissions test means that your vehicle did not meet the state or federal criteria required for you to renew your registration. Without a renewed registration, you won’t be able to drive your vehicle legally (though there is a grace period where you can still use your car). The most common reasons that a vehicle fails an emissions test include issues with a vehicle’s exhaust system, problems with its engine, faulty sensors, or issues with its fuel storage.

Failed Safety Inspection

Failing a safety inspection means your vehicle did not meet the state requirements and is technically unsafe to drive. For example, your car may fail a safety inspection due to problems with its safety equipment, issues with display components like a speedometer, broken lights, clogged filters, or simply because the check engine light is on. Failing an inspection will result in a mark or sticker indicating your vehicle needs to be inspected again after the appropriate repairs have taken place.


Financing a car is a way to acquire a vehicle without paying the entire sales price upfront. It usually involves getting a loan or lease, which requires you to make regular monthly payments in addition to some additional fees. Once the lease or loan is paid, you may own the vehicle or need to return it at the end of your terms.

Fire Brand

A fire brand on a vehicle means the car has been damaged due to flames, smoke, or other fire-related emissions. Many of these vehicles will receive a salvage title, with paperwork indicating that the damage they received was due to a fire. Make sure any fire-damaged vehicle you are considering purchasing has been closely inspected, especially if the source of the fire was the vehicle’s own internal components.

F&I (Financing and Insurance)

Financing and insurance, or F&I, refers to the business office of a dealership. This department is responsible for auto service contracts, extended warranties, credit insurance, GAP insurance, and various other facets relating to purchasing a vehicle.

Financial Incentive

Financial incentives for a vehicle are discounts and rebates offered by a dealership, manufacturer, or government organization. For dealerships and manufacturers, financial incentives tend to take money off the sales price or monthly payments when you purchase a certain vehicle type. For government organizations, the incentive may relate to tax breaks (for example, the EV tax credits offered by the U.S. government).

Fixed Residual

The fixed residual, or residual value, refers to what a vehicle is worth at the end of a lease. This value is usually set at the start of your lease terms; if you decide to purchase the car at the end of your lease, you’ll pay this price plus any additional fees the dealership requires.

Fleet Vehicle

Fleet vehicles are cars or trucks, often purchased in bulk, that are used exclusively by a business or government. Common fleet vehicles include those bought by rental car companies, law enforcement, and emergency services. These organizations may sell fleet vehicles to used-car lots where civilians can purchase them. Fleet vehicles are often offered at reasonable prices due to the level of wear and tear they experience during their lifetime.

Flood-Damaged Title 

A flood-damaged title, commonly referred to as a flood title, is given to vehicles that have sustained water damage due to flooding. To get this title, vehicles usually need to be submerged to the point where water has filled the engine compartment, trunk, or cabin. Vehicles with flood titles may appear functional from the outside but often contain significant damage; therefore, it’s wise to avoid purchasing them.

Former Rental

If a car had previously been used as a rental, it might receive a former rental title brand. Be wary when purchasing these vehicles, as they tend to have extensive wear and tear. They will also almost always have high mileage, making them problematic choices if you intend to use them for any significant amount of time.

Fuel Economy

A vehicle’s fuel economy refers to its miles per gallon or the distance it can cover on a single tank of fuel. The more miles a car can travel per gallon, the better its fuel economy is. For electric vehicles, fuel economy is measured in MPGe, which measures the equivalent charge used by its battery. Fuel economy is usually calculated as the average of a car’s highway and city miles.

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Gap Insurance

Guaranteed Asset Protection insurance, or Gap insurance, is an optional coverage designed to cover the difference between a car’s actual cash value and the amount owed on the vehicle through financing. Gap insurance is good coverage to get if your car is worth less than you owe on the loan.

Gas Guzzler Tax

The gas guzzler tax is an extra fee paid on vehicles that do not meet specific fuel economy criteria. It’s designed to discourage the production and sale of cars that may harm the environment due to fuel inefficiency. The gas guzzler tax usually only applies to passenger cars and varies in precise quantity. The amount of the tax should be available on the window sticker of a vehicle; the more inefficient the car, the higher the tax will be.

Government Use

Government use of vehicles refers to vehicles that are loaned, leased, or sold for the express use of a government entity. These entities can be at the local, county, state, and federal levels. Some government vehicles are exempt from certain payments, including registration fees and taxes.

Grey/Gray Market Compliant

This brand is the same as above, with a vehicle manufactured outside the United States being brought into the country. The difference is that a compliant gray market brand indicates the vehicle does meet all necessary federal standards.

Grey/Gray Market Non-Compliant

Whenever a vehicle is manufactured in a foreign market outside of the United States (for use outside the U.S.) and transferred into the country, it will receive a gray market title brand. In the case of a non-compliant gray market brand, the vehicle in question does not fit the criteria to meet federal standards.

Grey/Gray Market Vehicle

A gray market vehicle, sometimes referred to as an overseas vehicle, is a vehicle brought into the United States from another country. The owners of these vehicles seek to title and register the car for use in the U.S.; for a car to qualify as a gray market vehicle, it cannot have been titled in the United States before.

Gross Capitalized Cost 

Gross capitalized cost refers to the value of a vehicle before you lease it (before you subtract any capital cost reductions). This number is agreed upon by both you and the lessor through negotiations. The gross capitalized cost includes all fees, taxes, insurance, and the total balance of your lease.

Gross Polluter

Gross polluter refers to vehicles that fail certain emissions standards and contribute significantly to pollution. For a car to qualify as a gross polluter, its emissions levels must exceed government-established criteria during an inspection. Gross polluter vehicles will often emit an excessive amount of black or white smoke. White smoke tends to come from a damaged tailpipe or gasket, while black smoke usually comes from a damaged muffler.

Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR)

The Gross Vehicle Weight Rating is a standard designed to set a maximum safe weight for any given vehicle. This weight is based on a combination of the vehicle’s components, fuel, passengers, accessories, cargo, and in some cases, the weight of a tow trailer.

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Hail Brand 

A hail brand is given to vehicles that have suffered hail damage. Hail-damaged cars are often in sub-par condition; while they may be offered at a discount, they can be challenging to insure. Even if a car lacks a hail brand, you can tell a vehicle has been damaged by a few common signs: numerous large or small dents in the exterior, multiple chips or cracks in the glass, and water damage (from after the hail has melted).

Hazardous Substance Contaminated Vehicle

Vehicles used to transport hazardous materials, cars near the chemical site, or any other vehicle exposed to dangerous substances can receive this title brand. These hazardous materials can be flammables, explosives, fire accelerants, or toxic to humans or the environment. Whatever the material, vehicles with this brand should be avoided.

High-Speed Crash Test Vehicle

A high-speed crash test vehicle is used to test safety designs and measure a vehicle’s ability to withstand impact. These are often regular models from a manufacturer that are used exclusively to collect crash data. How well these vehicles withstand impact is rated by two organizations in the United States: the NHTSA and the IIHS.


Horsepower is a unit that measures how powerful a vehicle is, specifically the output capabilities of its engine or motor. These units are referred to as horsepower because they were initially used to compare the output of draft horses to steam engines, with one “mechanical horsepower” able to lift 550 pounds by one foot in one second.

Hybrid Power Source

A hybrid power source is a combination of electric motors and an internal combustion engine. These power sources are used in plug-in hybrids, fuel cell electrics, pneumatic or compressed air cars, as well as gas/electric hybrids.

Hybrid Vehicle

A hybrid vehicle is any car that uses a hybrid power source, combining an electric motor and a gas motor as a propulsion system. Energy for the electric motors in these vehicles is usually provided by regenerative braking, while the internal combustion engine is fueled by gasoline (or another fuel type).

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Ignition Timing

Ignition timing refers to the release of a spark in an internal combustion engine relative to the current angle of the crankshaft and the current position of the piston. This timing happens during what’s known as the compression stroke, which is when the piston travels up the cylinder as the intake valve closes. Without correct ignition timing, engines cannot perform properly, leading to vibrations and subsequent damage.


When a vehicle is purchased outside of the United States to bring it into the country, it will need an import title. This documentation can help show customs the vehicle's intended purpose and help you track the car as it travels into the country.

Independent Inspection

An independent inspection is conducted outside of a manufacturer or dealership, usually by a third party. These are done to ensure that a vehicle has no mechanical issues that the first inspection may have missed. Independent inspections may also have more stringent standards and have specialized tools to test cars in ways a dealership cannot.

Inoperable Vehicle

If a car is deconstructed or disassembled for any purpose and made inoperable, it may receive an inoperable vehicle title brand. In this case, the car has been moved to a public street or highway while still in a nonoperational state but will lack proper registration. The vehicle could qualify as a salvage car, but the big difference in its non-functioning state is intentional. This title brand will be removed once the car is reassembled and passes state criteria to make it road legal.

Inspections (or inspection types)

Vehicle inspections are mandatory, and in some cases optional, examinations of your vehicle. These inspections can be required to acquire a registration, vehicle license, or license plate and may need to occur annually or bi-annually. In the United States, common inspection types include safety inspections, VIN inspections, and emissions inspections.

Insurance Records

Car insurance records are made up of several different documents that track your auto insurance history. These documents include the declarations page of your auto insurance policy, insurance card, claim documents, and monthly billing statements. Car insurance records allow insurers to assess the risk associated with providing you with a policy. Depending on the content, these records may affect how much you pay in premiums.

Invoice Price

Found on a dealer invoice, an invoice price is a cost that a dealership or retailer will pay to a manufacturer for the right to distribute their vehicles. This price includes any fees and taxes and can be negotiated by a dealership. Manufacturers will also offer discounts to dealerships in the form of incentives to encourage them to sell certain model lineups.

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Junk Automotive

In a related non-motor vehicle agency report, this vehicle has been deemed incapable of safely operating on public roads and highways. These vehicles are intended to be stripped for parts or sold as scrap. It is a process that should take place within a set period (depending on the agency) after the car is declared junk.

Junk Title

A junk title is given to a vehicle that has no value left except for what it’s worth in scrap and parts. Unlike salvage-titled cars, which can be repaired, inspected, and retitled, junk-titled vehicles will rarely be able to be driven legally again. Vehicles with this title have experienced extensive damage to their frame or internal components and (in almost every case) cannot receive a new title.

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Keyless Ignition

A keyless ignition system allows drivers to start their vehicles without using a physical key. A fob and an interior button usually facilitate keyless ignition; by pressing the button when the fob is in range, your vehicle will recognize your presence and allow you to activate the engine. Keyless ignitions may also have auxiliary features, including alert systems that let you know when you may be locking your car with the fob still inside.


If a vehicle is built with various parts, it may receive a kit title brand. These cars are constructed using different chassis, frames, engines, and other auto parts that often have non-matching VINs. In this case, the VIN used on official paperwork and cataloged by the DMV is almost always the one present on the chassis.

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Lane Departure Warning System

A lane departure warning system is a modern safety feature that warns drivers when they are drifting into another lane. There are four primary types: lane departure warning (LDW), which warns drivers with vibrations, visuals, or an audible noise; lane centering assist (LCA), which assists a driver in keeping them centered on a road; lane keeping assist, which automatically takes over steering to keep a vehicle in its lane; and automated lane-keeping systems, which is part of a fully autonomous driving system.


A lease is a financing tool that allows you to drive a new or used vehicle without owning it. Leases differ from loans because, at the end of a loan, you own the vehicle. With a lease, you are essentially renting the car and will be required to return it at the end of your terms. Like loans, leases require monthly payments; you may also need to carry additional insurance types and adhere to specific restrictions (like not exceeding a certain mileage).

Lease Extension

A lease extension adds time to your existing lease terms, usually between six and twelve months. Lease extensions are an excellent tool for those who want to continue driving their current car model but aren’t quite ready for a lease buyout. You can also use a lease extension to wait out a volatile period of time in the vehicle market.

Lease Term

A lease term refers to the period of time you have access to your leased vehicle. Your lease contract will detail your term, which usually falls into two primary types: closed-end and open-end. A closed-end lease will have an exact date that your terms will expire, while an open-end lease doesn’t have a precise deadline. Instead, open-end leases will have a window within which you can return the vehicle. Failing to return your vehicle in either lease type will usually result in a penalty.

Lemon Law

Lemon laws refer to federal and state legislation that prevents scammers from selling vehicles that don’t meet specific quality and performance standards. Consumers who purchase a car with a significant mechanical defect are entitled to a refund or replacement. If a dealership buys the vehicle, it’s their responsibility to inspect it. If you believe you have been sold a lemon car, but the dealership won’t admit it, you may be necessary to contact a lemon law attorney.


A lessee is a person who leases a vehicle or other type of property. For car leases, this means signing a contract and following the terms set by the lessor. Lessees essentially “rent” the car, having temporary ownership for a certain period of time. Failure to meet the terms of their lease or falling behind on payments may result in a lessee losing access to the leased vehicle.


A lessor is an entity that allows a person to use a particular asset. For car leases, this means drafting a contract that allows someone to operate a vehicle for a set period of time. Lessors can create terms that the lessee has to follow, including the need to carry certain insurance coverages, adhere to specific mileage limits, and pay additional fees.


A lien is a legal claim against an asset. In the case of a lien on a car, lenders (or lienholders) will hold a vehicle’s title until the associated loan is fully paid. Much like with leases, lienholders can require that borrowers retain specific insurance policies and make regular monthly payments. If payments are not made, a lienholder has (in many cases) the right to repossess the vehicle.

Limited Production Vehicle

A limited production vehicle is a model with a restricted production volume. Because there are only so many of these vehicles, they are often rare and hard to find. This makes them more expensive, with many limited production vehicles being purchased by collectors. Limited production vehicles may have special interiors, trim, expensive components, or other material requirements that make them difficult to mass produce.

Limited Warranty

A limited warranty, or bumper-to-bumper warranty, is a type of coverage that usually comes standard when a vehicle is purchased from a dealership. Referred to as “limited” due to how long they last, these warranties will cover almost every component of your vehicle. Many limited warranties will only cover your car for a certain number of months or miles, leading many drivers to get extended warranties.


A car loan is a financing plan that allows you to make monthly payments on a vehicle instead of paying the full sales price upfront. Loans consist of the amount (or value of the car), the percentage you’ll pay on that loan each year (annual percentage rate, or APR), and the term within which you’ll need to pay back the loan.

Logging Vehicle

If a vehicle is used primarily on private roads and used for logging purposes, it will usually receive a logging vehicle title. These vehicles are used exclusively to transport forestry goods like lumber to and from where those materials are harvested.

Loss Lender

Lending loss is an insurance term that refers to a lender’s guarantee that they will be paid for collateral. In this case, a loss payee is used to reduce loan defaults. This occurs if you do not lose your lender as what is known as a loss payee, leading them to place what is known as “forced placed insurance” on whatever you put as your collateral. You can avoid this by keeping up with your payments and preventing your insurance from lapsing.

Low-Emission Vehicle

A low-emission vehicle, or LEV, is a vehicle that does not emit a significant amount of polluting emissions. While all-electric vehicles may fall under this category, low-emission vehicles usually refer to gas-powered cars. Despite their fuel source, manufacturers have designed these vehicles to emit the lowest amount of CO2 and other pollutants possible.

Low-Interest Financing

Low-interest financing is a loan or lease that uses interest rates below the current market standard. This type of financing is usually offered as an incentive to increase sales or move specific lower-selling vehicle models. Low-interest financing is commonly provided with a “no down payment” incentive but may require you to meet certain criteria to qualify. This criterion usually pertains to your credit score; for many lenders, you’ll need excellent credit to be eligible for a low-interest financing plan.

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Major Damage Incident

Major damage incidents are accidents that result in significant damage to any of the involved vehicles. In most cases, this damage results in the cars being declared “totaled,” making them inoperable. These occurrences differ from a minor damage incident, which tends to result in nothing more than a dent, scratch, or non-essential broken vehicle part.

Manual Transmission

A manual transmission, or manual gearbox, is a system designed to change between a vehicle’s gears. It is operated manually by the driver, as opposed to an automatic transmission, which will shift gears once the car reaches a certain speed. Manual transmissions are operated using a gear stick, which allows the driver to cycle between various numbered gears, and a clutch, which lets the driver control how much torque is transmitted from a motor to the transmission.

Manufacturer Buyback

Manufacturer buybacks are vehicles that a manufacturer will repurchase, inspect, repair, and subsequently resold. These vehicles are usually repurchased due to a complaint by a customer, a violation of lemon law, or a previously unknown defect within the vehicle’s internal mechanics. Manufacturer buyback vehicles often have to meet a strict code of criteria before being resold, offering significant value to drivers who seek to get a good deal on a used car.

Manufacturer Recall

A manufacturer recall is issued when a manufacturer finds that one of their vehicles has a previously unknown defect that requires repair. These defects may create a safety hazard or cause the vehicles not to meet the manufacturer’s standards. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Commission can also call recalls if they spot a safety risk; in these (and most cases), all costs associated with repairing the vehicle fall to the manufacturer.

Memorandum Copy

If a title is inactive and used simply for clerical purposes, it will be known as a memorandum copy. This is not valid and can't legally serve as a replacement document for an active legal title.

Mileage Allowance

Mileage allowance refers to how much mileage a driver can deduct regarding their associated expenses. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sets an allowance each year, allowing taxpayers to use this allowance to calculate their operational costs for tax-deduction purposes. In addition, taxpayers can calculate the prices on their own instead of using the IRS mileage allowance.

Mileage Discrepancy

Mileage discrepancy is the misrepresentation of a vehicle’s mileage, either verbally, on official documents, or through manipulation of its odometer. Mileage discrepancy is most commonly used to hide high mileage, as this can make it easier for unscrupulous sellers to offload old, more worn vehicles. If the method of mileage discrepancy a seller uses involves tampering with the odometer, it’s known as odometer rollback.

Money Factor

The lease money factor, or money factor, refers to the interest rate you’ll have to pay to lease a vehicle. Like an annual percentage rate, a money factor will account for some of your monthly lease payments (in addition to fees, taxes, and any additional costs). Dealers calculate a money factor by combining the capitalized cost and residual value, multiplying it by the lease term, and dividing the lease charge by the result.

Monroney / Window Sticker

A Monroney sticker is a window decal that contains information relating to a new vehicle. According to the Automobile Information Disclosure Act of 1958, dealerships are legally required to include Monroney stickers on their vehicles. These stickers contain various important details, including the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, safety ratings, crash test scores, fuel economy, environmental impact, standard equipment, engine and transmission details, make and model, vehicle options pricing, and warranty information.


The manufacturer’s suggested retail price, or MSRP, is the price point a manufacturer recommends that a particular vehicle be sold at. Sometimes referred to as a “sticker price” due to many dealerships displaying this number as a large sticker on their vehicles, an MSRP isn’t necessarily the final sales price of a car. Many dealerships will discount vehicles with lower sales volume or allow customers to negotiate below the MSRP.

Municipal Use

A municipal use vehicle is one that is leased or owned by a city or municipality. Municipal use vehicles may be marked, carrying the city’s official logo, or unmarked and made to appear like a civilian car. A wide range of vehicles falls under municipal use, including those intended for public transportation, public works, police departments, fire departments, and emergency medical services.

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, is a federal agency tasked with increasing transportation safety in the United States. Created in 1970 as a part of the Department of Transportation, the NHTSA is responsible for many advances in safe driving. These advances include the development of standardized field sobriety testing, the promotion of traffic stops by police, safety feature cost-benefit analysis, and regulations related to fuel economy.

NHTSA Crash Test Vehicle 

An NHTSA crash test vehicle is a vehicle used by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to assess its ability to withstand impact. Usually a regular production model, these vehicles are tested by the NHTSA and rated using their 5-star system.

Navigation System

An automotive navigation system is a vehicle feature that allows the driver to discern their location. Many navigation systems use GPS location to pinpoint a driver’s location in relation to nearby streets, buildings, and landmarks. Navigation systems often use real-time traffic data and satellite systems to find the shortest routes, avoiding accidents and closed motorways.

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An odometer is a device that measures a vehicle’s mileage or the distance it travels during operation. Odometers come in two types: mechanical and digital. A mechanical odometer functions using cogs and a series of digits; the cogs turn as the wheels of the vehicle rotate, with the display flipping each number to signify the mileage. A digital odometer uses a computer trip, tracking mileage and storing it in the engine control module. This mileage is displayed on a digital readout on the instrument panel.

Odometer Brands

  1. Actual
    This brand indicates the actual mileage of a vehicle. A vehicle with this brand will display the actual mileage on its odometer, which lacks any signs of tampering, mechanical failure, or alteration. This is the optimal odometer brand to have, as it shows that the mileage you have listed is accurate. Buyers will want to ensure that the odometer is unaltered, so failure to have this brand can make reselling your vehicle far more difficult.
  2. Not Actual
    This type of brand means the true mileage is likely (or has already been identified) as a different number than what is displayed on the odometer. This can also apply if the odometer is replaced or if the current owner doesn't know the correct mileage of their vehicle. Odometers with this brand can be much more challenging to sell, as there is no way to verify the mileage that is being displayed. If you sell this vehicle, you will likely have to settle for a price well below its actual value.
  3. Not Actual (Odometer Tampering Verified)
    If a governing body or law enforcement agent identifies an odometer with signs of tampering, it will receive this variation of a “not actual” brand. In the case of verified odometer tampering, a vehicle with this brand has experienced a criminal alteration of its odometer. As with a traditional “not actual” brand, vehicles with this designation will be incredibly difficult to resell.
  4. Exempt From Odometer Disclosure
    A vehicle can sometimes fit certain guidelines that allow it to be sold without disclosing the odometer reading. In some areas, this is a time-related requirement, where vehicles of a specific manufacturing year will be exempt from disclosure after a period of several years or decades.
  5. Exceeds Mechanical Limits
    An odometer only has a limited number of characters it can display, and once it reaches a specific mileage, it will exceed its mechanical limits. Because of this, the odometer cannot show the actual mileage and will receive an "exceeds mechanical limits" odometer brand. Vehicles with this brand will almost always have lower resale value due to the implied high mileage and lack of ability to track their total number of miles.
  6. Odometer May Be Altered
    If an odometer is altered in any way, and a governing body suspects that the mileage displayed may not be accurate, they can give the odometer this brand.
  7. Odometer Replaced
    Whenever an odometer is replaced, it will receive an "odometer replaced" brand. This lets future owners know that the currently installed device is not the one it was initially manufactured with and may not display the vehicle's actual mileage.
  8. Reading at Time of Renewal
    If a car's registration is renewed and that number needs to be used for official purposes, the mileage will be recorded at the time of renewal. This can affect other brands, like odometer discrepancy.
  9. Odometer Discrepancy
    If a governing body or titling authority believes that the mileage displayed on an odometer differs from the vehicle's actual mileage, it may receive an odometer discrepancy brand. This usually happens if the authority has records of the odometer's previous mileage and the current mileage is lower than what they have recorded.
  10. Call Title Division
    When a governing body or titling authority has an issue with an odometer reading but doesn't have a specific designation to put on its title, it will put this brand as an indication that they should be contacted. If an authorized inquirer has questions about the odometer, they can call the authority and discuss it with them.
  11. Rectify Previous Exceeds Mechanical Limits Brand
    If a vehicle reaches a high enough mileage and its odometer exceeds its mechanical limits, it will receive a mechanical limits brand. If this problem is fixed but the brand is rectified outside the original state, it will get this brand instead.

Odometer Codes

An odometer code shows the status and reliability of an odometer reading. These codes primarily include four types: actual, not actual, exempt, and exceed mechanical limits. An “actual” code means that the odometer displays the mileage properly. A “not actual” code signifies that the reading is incorrect or cannot be determined. An “exempt” code means that that particular car lot is not required to display the code by federal law. Finally, an “exceeds mechanical limits” code signifies that the mileage has exceeded the capacity of the odometer and cannot be correctly displayed.

Odometer Rollback

Odometer rollback is a car-selling scam that involves artificially altering a vehicle's odometer to display an inaccurate mileage. Scammers will use odometer rollback to get higher prices for cars with advanced wear-and-tear, convincing unsuspecting buyers that the vehicles are in much better condition than they actually are. Once purchased, these vehicles can break down quickly, requiring significant and costly repairs.

Odometer Rollover

Odometer rollover refers to an odometer that has exceeded its mechanical limits and can no longer display the correct mileage. Odometer rollover primarily affects mechanical odometers and tends to occur when the vehicle reaches 100,000 or 1,000,000 miles. At this point, the device will display the mileage as 0; if it's still functioning, it should start counting miles again as before. Failing to report this change before selling a vehicle could qualify as a type of odometer rollback fraud, so make sure to note the rollover to any future buyers.

Open-End Lease

An open-end lease is a financial agreement allowing a driver to use a vehicle for a set period of time, but they are responsible for the vehicle's value. This means that when your lease term ends, you may need to pay the lessor any difference between your car's realized value and residual value. However, if the vehicle has increased in value, you may also be entitled to money back.


Original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, refers most commonly to parts manufacturers but can also be used to talk about car companies or specific vehicle components. For parts manufacturers, an OEM will work with brands to build the particular parts their new vehicle lines require. In addition, they will often offer branded replacement parts that are distinct from aftermarket parts, allowing repair shops to know which are explicitly approved by a manufacturer. OEMs are responsible for manufacturing various components, including everything from onboard software to exhaust and safety systems.

Onboard Diagnostics System

An onboard diagnostics system, or OBDS, is a computer system designed to collect information relating to a vehicle's performance. The OBDS in your vehicle will track how your vehicle functions, regulating different components of your car and alerting you when there is an issue with its internal mechanics. Mechanics can plug directly into an OBDS to acquire vehicle data and quickly identify problems, helping simplify the repair process.

Open Recall

An open recall refers to a manufacturer or NHTSA-mandated recall involving an ongoing problem with a vehicle. Using a car that is the subject of an open recall could be dangerous; instead, you should take your vehicle to a licensed dealer or manufacturer-approved repair shop. If a dealer refuses to fix your car, you can submit a complaint to the manufacturer or the NHTSA.

Original Police

A vehicle with an original police title is currently being driven for law enforcement purposes. These cars can be owned by various local, state, and federal agencies and cannot be operated by anyone without the proper law enforcement credentials.

Original Taxi

A car with an original taxi title is currently registered as a taxicab and is likely being used to transport passengers to-and-from a variety of destinations. A driver needs to be licensed and registered with the appropriate governing bodies to operate a taxi.


Oversteer refers to a failed corrective maneuver where a driver will turn a vehicle more than they originally intended. Oversteering can result in drifting into a different lane, losing traction and sliding, or fully spinning out a car. For oversteer to occur, the rear wheels will lose traction before the front tires, often due to the force of acceleration. To correct oversteer, the driver should keep their front tires heading in their intended direction, pause as their rear tires stop sliding, throttle slightly to keep the weight on their back tires and bring the steering wheel back straight.

Owner Retained

Another form of the totaled title brand applies when the owner decides to maintain their possession and ownership of a vehicle despite it being declared a total loss by their insurance company.

Ownership History

The ownership history of a vehicle is a record of every previous person who has owned that vehicle. Due to the Driver Protection Act, organizations like the Department of Motor Vehicles cannot share certain details about a previous driver. However, tools like vehicle history reports can show the number of prior owners a vehicle has had, as well as other important information about a car, like its accident history.

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Parking Assist

Parking assist is a safety feature common in many newer vehicle models that helps drivers park their cars. Sometimes referred to as a parking guidance system or PGS, these assistance devices will use camera or radar technology to detect whether any objects are preventing a vehicle from parking safely. Parking assist will also identify whether there is enough space between two other cars to park, helping prevent damage to both your property and the property of others. Because of this, having PGS can often lower your insurance premiums, as insurers will see your vehicle as less risky to cover.

Parts Only

An outdated vehicle brand, a vehicle with this on its title can only be sold for parts. These cars tend to be scrap or salvage vehicles and cannot be legally driven. This brand was taken out of circulation and is now referred to as a dismantled title.

Passed Emission Inspection

A vehicle that has passed its emission inspection has met state or federal requirements; this indicates that its greenhouse gas emissions meet legal limits. Thirty states currently require emissions testing to keep a vehicle street legal, with a failed test resulting in the need for services or repairs before you can renew your registration. Tests are often fast, taking only 30-45 minutes, and can be conducted at a licensed inspection location or your local DMV.

Passed Safety Inspection

A vehicle that has passed its safety inspection has met state or federal criteria indicating that it is safe to drive on public motorways. These inspections tend to look at all the features your car needs to use during operation, including the lights, mirrors, tires, windshield, steering and alignment, suspension, and brakes. Vehicle safety inspections are required in many states and are usually performed by your local DMV or a licensed car technician.


A vehicle's payload refers to its capacity to carry weight, specifically the safe limit it can reach before the function of the car is compromised. What a vehicle's payload capacity is will depend mostly on its type. For example, an SUV's capacity will be defined by the space in its cabin or trunk. For a truck, payload capacity is determined by how much weight it can carry in its cabin and bed.

Pending Junk Automobile

A non-motor vehicle agency report, pending junk automobiles have been identified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as incapable of safe or legal operation. These cars are separate from regular junk vehicles because they have been selected to be part of the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save (or CARS) program. They will move from their pending status and be sold for parts and scrap if approved.

Powertrain Warranty

A powertrain warranty is a limited coverage provided by a dealership or manufacturer in which they agree to repair any issues relating to a malfunctioning powertrain. For the warranty to apply, problems have to arise only from components relating to the powertrain, including the transmission, engine, driveshaft, and the internal mechanics of the engine. If an issue arises, you can take your vehicle to a licensed technician or manufacturer to repair it free of charge.

Pre-crash System

A pre-crash system, also known as a collision avoidance system, is a safety feature designed to prevent a vehicle from experiencing a collision. Precrash systems will use a variety of monitoring devices, including cameras or radar, to detect other vehicles or objects; once detected, the driver is alerted so they can act accordingly. Some systems will also intervene automatically, applying the brakes so the cars do not collide. Precrash systems can also include other safety measures, like improved seatbelts, seats, and sensors.

Precomputed Interest

Precomputed interest refers to the interest that is paid over the course of a vehicle loan. Lenders will calculate this interest before the terms are signed, adding it to the principle and splitting it evenly (in most cases) amongst the monthly payments. This system benefits lenders if you attempt to repay the loan in full early; if you plan to do so, it's often better to go with a simple interest loan.

Primary Damage & Secondary Damage

Primary and secondary damage are the results of a direct accident (the initial collision) and secondary accidents (any crashes that occur as a result of the direct accident). Primary damage will include harm to the drivers or their vehicles involved in that first accident, mainly the collision itself. On the other hand, secondary damage can result from various accident-related occurrences. These include the interruption to traffic, drivers distracted by the accident (known as "rubbernecking"), debris from the primary accident, or collisions with the initially affected vehicles.

Prior Non-Repairable/Repaired

If the damage done to a car was previously determined to be unrepairable, but subsequent work has fixed the major components significantly enough to make it operational, it may receive a prior non-repairable/repaired brand. These vehicles may have previously been titled ineligible for titling or declared junk.

Prior Police

A prior police vehicle is a car that previously served as transportation for law enforcement and has since been resold. Prior police vehicles can be significantly cheaper than similar vehicles and are usually manufactured with quality and performance in mind. In addition, many police vehicles are upgraded to deal with the tasks that law enforcement officers have to deal with, so these vehicles can have excellent handling, acceleration, and braking. On the other hand, prior police vehicles have usually been used extensively, may have had modifications removed that are illegal for civilians to use, and tend to have incredibly high mileage.

Prior Owner Retained

If a vehicle is declared a total loss by an insurance company, but the owner retains possession afterward, it may receive a prior owner retained title. If the owner fails to keep the vehicle compliant with local licensing laws (including registering it), a salvage title will be issued as a replacement.

Prior Taxi

A prior taxi is a car previously used as a commercial means of transportation. Taxicabs are essentially drivers for hire, so a prior taxi will likely have a high mileage. Despite this drawback, buying a prior taxi can be a cost-effective way to get a dependable vehicle.

Program Car 

A program car is a manufacturer-owned vehicle that is lent out to employees for set periods of time for company use. These vehicles are later sold at auction, usually to dealerships. The term "program car" can also refer to a vehicle that was used for test drives during a model's initial year of release. Program cars almost always have low mileage, making them a wise purchase for dealerships who intend to resell them.

Purchase Option

A purchase option refers to the ability of a lessee to buy their vehicle outright, either through a fixed dollar amount (almost always the residual value) or with a price determined by your lessor. If you choose to use a purchase option, your vehicle may immediately be subject to sales on its purchase price in addition to titling and registration fees.

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A rebate is an incentive manufacturers provide to buyers, in which they return a certain amount of money after a vehicle is purchased or leased. This money may be given to a buyer all at once in what is known as a "lump sum," which they can then use to reduce the cost of a car's down payment. Manufacturers use rebates to encourage buyers to purchase certain vehicle types, usually models with low sales volume or being replaced by upgraded versions.

Rebodied Vehicle

A rebodied vehicle is a (usually illegal) procedure involving the replacement of a vehicle's body. The original VIN is then attached to this new body, making the car appear as though it was completely rebuilt. A rebodied vehicle will often look perfect on the outside but contain significant issues with its internal mechanics; buying one of these cars could mean paying for extensive repairs soon after purchase.

Rebuilt Title

A rebuilt title is a car that was previously issued a salvage title or declared a total loss by an insurance company but was subsequently fixed up. Rebuilt vehicles undergo extensive inspection and repairs to acquire their new titles, as inspectors will look closely for any signs of remaining damage. Because these cars lack the highly sought-after clean title, you can often get them reasonably priced.


A recalled car is one that the manufacturer or NHTSA has identified as having significant problems. These problems may interfere with the vehicle's ability to function or jeopardize the safety of drivers and passengers. Recalled cars are repaired or replaced at a licensed dealership, with all costs being covered by the manufacturer.


Auto reconditioning refers to the process of preparing a used vehicle for resale. This process starts with identifying any issues the car may have, whether they be internal or external. These problems can be cosmetic, such as issues with the paint or upholstery, or mechanical, like damage to the engine, transmission, or brakes. Once found, all damage is fixed to maximize the vehicle's resale value.

Reconstructed Title

A reconstructed title is very similar to a rebuilt title in that it refers to a previous salvage vehicle that was repaired to meet state or federal inspection criteria. Vehicles must be repaired as much as possible to acquire these titles and pass a safety inspection. Once completed, they can be resold, though usually for a much lower price than the market average for that model.

Recovered Theft

A recovered theft vehicle is one that was previously stolen and subsequently recovered. These vehicles will sometimes receive a brand indicating they were previously stolen, specifically in Oregon, Oklahoma, New York, New Mexico, Minnesota, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, Georgia, Arizona, and Florida.

Refurbished Title

Similar to a rebuilt or reconstructed title, vehicles that have been modified may receive a refurbished title. Vehicles with this brand tend to have renovations related explicitly to their cab or chassis, changing the car's overall value and style.

Regenerative Braking

Regenerative braking is a system used primarily by hybrid and electric vehicles to recapture the energy that would otherwise be lost during the braking process. When the driver steps on the brake pedal, the discs and brake pads create friction that usually dissipates as heat. In vehicles with a regenerative braking system, this energy is converted and used to recharge the battery.


Vehicle relocation involves transporting vehicles from one place to another for various purposes. These purposes include returning vehicles that have been used as rentals to their original agency, transporting new cars to a dealership, or transferring fleet vehicles to a different business location. Vehicle relocation can also refer to the delivery of personal cars for private citizens.


A remanufactured part is a vehicle component that has been restored to the state it was in when it was initially manufactured. As parts are used and become worn down, they may be replaced with brand-new parts. In some cases, when the part is difficult to find, repair shops may remanufacture a damaged part to make it like-new.

Replaced Odometer 

There are only a few cases where an odometer will need replacement, primarily if the previous odometer was damaged in an accident. If the odometer is not damaged, it is usually illegal to replace the device. This illegality is because odometer replacement is a common method for committing fraud. If an odometer is replaced, the vehicle will likely require an odometer notice sticker containing the previous mileage.

Replacement Cost

Replacement cost is the amount of money it would require to replace a vehicle after it has been damaged or stolen (without accounting for depreciation). Insurance companies use this amount to find out how much to reimburse you after an accident. Insurers will usually determine this number by looking at your vehicle’s mileage, age, and level of wear and tear.


Vehicles built as a reproduction of another year, make, or car model can get a replica title. These cars receive a separate designation to differentiate them from a vehicle constructed by the licensed manufacturer. The parts that make these vehicles can come from multiple sources and be explicitly fabricated for a singular replica.


Vehicle repossession occurs when a lender takes your car due to missed payments, loan defaults, or a lack of proper insurance. Depending on the exact wording of your contract, the repossession process can happen without your prior knowledge. Some states have laws requiring advanced notice of repossession, but in those that don’t, lenders can take your vehicle at any time if you violate your agreement. Repossession can also negatively affect your credit, with an incidence of repossession staying on your credit history for an average of seven years.


If a car is reserved, that usually means it's being held at a specific price for a seller at auction. This price can be a minimum set by a seller and is not typically disclosed to other potential buyers.

Roadside Assistance

Roadside assistance is a service that helps drivers who have experienced an incident that disables their vehicle. Roadside assistance providers will help with many issues and provide towing, flat-tire replacement, locksmith services, battery jump-starts, fuel delivery, and in some cases, minor mechanical repairs. In addition, some insurance companies will provide roadside assistance as a part of their regular policies, as will some credit card companies. You can also get specific roadside assistance coverage through motor clubs like the American Automobile Association.

Rollover Protection

Rollover protection is a safety feature designed to reduce the risk and subsequent damage of a rollover incident. Rollover protection systems take several different forms, with some using detection features to recognize when a rollover may occur and apply the brakes. In contrast, others use rollover bars to protect the occupants in the event a crash occurs. Rollover protection is also standard on agricultural vehicles, which use mechanical components to maintain a clearance zone within the vehicle’s frame to protect the driver.

Residual Value

The residual value of a vehicle is its estimated worth at the end of a given lease term (or, in some cases, its entire usable lifespan). When used in relation to a lease, lessors will utilize residual values to determine how much a driver’s monthly lease payments will be. A residual value is usually calculated by taking the salvage value and subtracting the amount it would cost to dispose of the asset.

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Safety Inspection

A vehicle safety inspection is an examination designed to determine whether a vehicle can safely operate on the road. These inspections ensure that the vehicle occupant and other drivers on the road are safe. Depending on your state, various aspects of your vehicle will be examined during an inspection. You can generally expect to have your brakes, tires, windshield, lights, mirrors, safety features (like seat belts), steering, alignment, and suspicion checked during a safety inspection. Some states will also require regular inspections to retain legal driving status, so it’s best to check the requirements listed by your area’s DMV.

Saltwater Damage

Similar to flood damage, this type of title brand indicates that a vehicle has been damaged specifically by saltwater. This can occur if a car is driven into the ocean or becomes flooded from a source comprised entirely of saltwater. Saltwater damage can be extensive; this water type's high salinity can erode a vehicle's components at a rate five times faster than fresh water.

Salvage Auction

Salvage auctions involve the sale of salvaged, wrecked, or otherwise damaged vehicles using a traditional auction format. This format consists of a presenter showing the item (in this case, a salvage vehicle) and the audience bidding, with the highest bid winning the item. Vehicles gained at these auctions usually have a salvage title, meaning they will need to be rebuilt, inspected, and retitled before they can be legally driven on public motorways. You can often find good deals at these auctions, but be wary: these vehicles will have significant damage that could require expensive repair work.

Salvage Retention

A car determined to be a total loss would usually be declared salvage; in the case of a salvage retention, the owner has decided to retain a vehicle despite this new classification and will usually have to submit specific paperwork to do so. One of the primary forms for this type of title is the Salvage Vehicle Notice of Retention by Owner.

Salvage Title

Vehicles are given a salvage title when a vehicle has been damaged considerably and then the insurance company declares it a “total loss”. In these cases, the damage on the vehicle costs more to fix than the car would be worth. Salvage title vehicles could be totaled from a number of incidents, including a car accident, fire, flooding, or theft. You can get these vehicles for a much lower price, but they will require significant repair to get them retitled. You may also have difficulty finding an insurance company willing to provide coverage on the vehicle, even if it has been fixed.

Salvage Title (Stolen)

If a vehicle is stolen, a settlement may be reached concerning that theft by the company responsible for its insurance policy. In that case, the insurance company will take over ownership; if the area the vehicle is registered within defines it as salvage, the car will receive a salvage (stolen) brand.

Salvage Title (Reasons Other Than Damage or Stolen)

If a car isn't stolen but still meets the criteria set by a state or jurisdiction regarding salvage vehicles, it may receive a salvage (reasons other than damage or stolen) brand. Cars can qualify for this brand for various reasons, most commonly abandonment.

Scheduled Maintenance

Factory scheduled maintenance is the manufacturer’s recommendation regarding how often owners should maintain their vehicles. These recommendations include what types of maintenance should occur, including oil changes, filter replacement, or the changing out of certain belts. The intervals at which this scheduled maintenance will take place vary on what component is being maintained. For example, they may recommend oil changes every 3,000 miles and say that timing belts should be replaced every 50,000 miles.

Scrapped Brand

A scrapped vehicle is another name for one with a salvage title (which may be referred to as a “scrapped brand”). These vehicles have been declared a total loss by insurance companies, meaning it doesn’t make financial sense to repair them. The damage that causes repairs to outweigh value may vary, from extensive internal damage to issues with the vehicle’s engines, transmission, or brakes. In the case of a scrap car, the damage is so significant that its only value is what its remaining useful parts can be sold for.

Security Deposit

For vehicles, a security deposit is an amount of money you put down on a leased car that can cover any damages that the vehicle undergoes. Security deposits are usually meant to be refunded, encouraging drivers to avoid damaging their vehicles to ensure they receive their money back. The amount of cash a security deposit amounts to will vary, with the average costing the equivalent of one monthly lease payment.

Shiftable Automatic Transmission

Shiftable automatic transmission is a feature that allows drivers to select whether they want to shift their car manually or allow the vehicle to shift automatically on its own. The manual control options can be limited with shiftable automatic transmissions, while others allow the same range that a fully manual transmission would provide a driver.

Single-Limit Insurance

A single-limit insurance policy combines the limits an insurer will pay for the bodily injury and property damage resulting from one accident. This differs from your traditional split-limit policy, which would cover different amounts for each type of damage. These plans can be advantageous in situations where certain types of damage exceed the regular limits. However, because of this advantage, single-limit insurance policies can carry higher monthly premiums and yearly costs.

Smart Car

A smart car, or intelligent car, is a type of micro-compact vehicle designed to be fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly. The specific brand name, Smart Car, was created by the automaker Smart USA and debuted in the U.S. in 2008. These vehicles usually feature a trunk-mounted engine, sustainable material compositions, and high gas mileage.

Special Lease (or Subsidized Lease)

A special or subsidized lease is a more affordable form of financing that some manufacturers or dealerships will offer that lowers a vehicle’s sales price or monthly payments. Special leases are used as an incentive to increase leases or sales, often for a specific model line that they are struggling to sell.

Split-Limit Insurance

Split-limit insurance is a type of auto policy that separates the different kinds of damage it covers into distinct categories. These categories most often include bodily injury per person (the amount that a single person can be reimbursed for their medical costs), bodily injury per accident (the total medical reimbursement for all involved persons), and property damage per accident (the full reimbursement for all involved property, including vehicles).

Standard Transmission

Standard transmission, or manual transmission, is a system that allows drivers to select gears on their own. Most of the time, this operation is facilitated with a gear stick and clutch, letting drivers shift up or down as they increase or decrease their speed. However, while manual transmissions used to be the norm, many manufacturers have converted to automatic transmissions, which automatically switch the vehicle’s gears once it reaches a certain RPM.

State Government

A state government vehicle, or official state car, is used to transport the head of state or other high-ranking individuals within a government. Official state cars are usually heavily reinforced or armored, with many having advanced safety features like bulletproof glass. In addition, state government vehicles will often have special plates denoting their significance, though this varies depending on their country of origin.

Stolen Vehicle

A stolen vehicle can refer to a car that has been taken illegally from its rightful owner. Insurance companies can also use this term to refer to an insured vehicle that was used to cause bodily injury. Once a stolen car is recovered, it may receive a new title or brand indicating it was previously stolen. These brands can make it more difficult to acquire insurance and may increase any subsequent insurance premiums.

Street Rod

If a car was manufactured before 1949 and specifically modified to fit the "hot rod" style, it will receive a street rod title. These cars do not conform with manufacturer specifications, and all modifications that have been made will meet area-specific criteria.

Structural Damage

Structural damage refers to any damage to a vehicle’s chassis or frame. Damage to a vehicle’s structure can be difficult to repair and usually results in the car being declared “totaled” by an insurance company. Some structural damage can remain hidden even if the vehicle is repaired after an accident. In most cases, cars with structural damage will need to be replaced entirely.

Subprime Auto Loans

A subprime auto loan is offered to drivers with poor credit, generally those with scores below 619. Subprime auto loans can carry much higher interest rates; because of this, it’s usually advised that drivers improve their credit scores before considering a loan. Failing to pay these loans can result in further credit damage; if your score falls low enough, you may not be able to get a loan at all.


Subvention is a type of incentive that allows manufacturers to subsidize a vehicle’s price, lowering the cost for consumers as a way to sell certain vehicle models. Subvention can come in the same form as other incentives, including cash-back programs and lower interest rates, or in the form of subvented leases. Subvented leases will have lower monthly payments and will often be offered on older car models or those in lower demand.

Suspect Mileage

Suspect mileage refers to vehicles with a potentially altered odometer or a reported mileage that doesn’t match its level of wear and tear. Scammers will use fake mileage or specific scams like odometer rollback to hide a vehicle’s true mileage in an effort to get a higher sales price. You can check to see the real mileage by requesting the vehicle’s title, inspection records or getting a vehicle history report.

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Technical Service Bulletin

A technical service bulletin is a document that shows drivers the correct repair procedures for their vehicles. Manufacturers will issue these bulletins when a certain problem is being reported at a high volume. However, some bulletins can be created by the first automotive technician to develop the repair procedure.

Test Vehicle

Any car built and retained by a manufacturer for the express purpose of testing will be given a test vehicle title. These cars are not meant to be driven on public roadways and are often kept within closed tracks to test various aspects of a car's safety and performance. Third parties can also acquire these vehicles, but they can only legally be used for testing purposes.

Theft Records

Theft records are a part of a vehicle’s history concerning whether it has ever been stolen. Therefore, before purchasing a car, it’s important to determine whether it’s currently the legal property of the seller. Common red flags that a vehicle may be stolen include the lack of a title, a tampered VIN placard, or visible signs of damage to the windows or ignition system.

Title Brands

Title brands are official designations given to vehicles that have sustained previous damage. In many cases, state agencies will give vehicles these brands, including if the car is classified as salvage, junk, flood-damaged, reconstructed, totaled, or if they believe it is a “lemon.” Different states can have their own title brands; it’s important to contact your state’s DMV to see what brands it is currently using.

Title History

A vehicle’s title history will reveal its current title or brand in addition to any past titles it has held. Title histories can show you if a car was previously declared totaled or salvaged, whether it’s been rebuilt, and whether the seller is being honest about its current status.

Title Type

Title type can refer to either the specific category of title a vehicle has or the format that the title is displayed in (i.e., paper, electronic, etc.). For categories, title types include clean, rebuilt, salvage, junk, water-damaged, and numerous others. What kind of title a vehicle has can tell you its history, whether it can be driven legally, and how difficult it will be to insure.

Title Washing

Title washing most commonly refers to a scam where unscrupulous sellers will take a previously salvaged or otherwise damaged car, do minor repairs, and retitle it in another state with looser restrictions. This allows the scammer to sell the vehicle for an artificially inflated value. Buying a title-washed car can be expensive and, in some cases, dangerous. Because these vehicles do not have the proper designation for their damage, they can quickly break down after purchase. This can result in significant repairs, cause accidents, or leave you stranded somewhere with a disabled vehicle.

Total Due at Signing

The total due at signing is what you owe when you sign the paperwork to buy a new or used vehicle. This amount will include your down payment and any associated fees; it may also be lowered by whatever incentives a dealership is running, like cash-back rebates. You can also get the total due at signing reduced by trading in a vehicle or taking advantage of purchase-specific credits.


The term “totaled” refers to a vehicle that has been declared a total loss by an insurance company. For a car to receive this designation, the repairs it requires usually outweigh its potential value. As a result, your insurance company will report your vehicle as totaled to the DMV, and you will no longer be able to drive it legally on public motorways. You can dispute a total loss declaration if your policy has appraisal provisions. With this provision, you can hire an appraiser to see what the actual value of your vehicle is, in some cases overturning the total loss declaration.

Truth in Leasing

Truth in Leasing laws are regulations that apply to certain vehicle leasing situations, primarily those relating to trucking. These laws require a clear identification of both parties, definite lease terms, a listing of all equipment involved in the lease, an explanation of all fees, an identification of what insurance coverages are needed, and whether or not escrow funds will apply to certain parts of the transaction.

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Upside Down

To be “upside down” on a car loan (also known as having negative equity) means you owe more on your car than the vehicle is worth. Becoming upside down on a loan occurs due to several factors, including depreciation, the lack of down payment, or the car becoming significantly damaged before you have paid it off. The best way to deal with this situation is to make extra payments or, if possible, refinance your loan to get a lower APR.


For auto insurance, underwriting involves evaluating the risk involved in insuring your vehicle. Insurance companies will have their underwriters check numerous factors when determining the profitability of insuring you, including your age, gender, driving record, and vehicle type. They will also look at your vehicle’s safety features, whether it has ever been in an accident, and whether it’s ever been stolen.

Undisclosed Lien

An outdated title brand, this was applied when a vehicle was permanently moved to a new jurisdiction with different lien-information laws. If there was no security interest in the vehicle within that new jurisdiction, it could be issued a separate title without this brand. As of January 17th, 2003, this brand no longer applies to vehicle titles.

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Any vehicle purposefully damaged by criminal vandalism can receive this type of brand. A form of a salvage title, a vandalism brand is usually given by insurance companies when the damage perpetrated by the criminals is higher than the vehicle's total value. Vandalism is often only cosmetic, affecting the exterior of a vehicle primarily. However, more severe cases may damage the internal mechanics.

Vehicle Contains Reissued VIN

A car with a "vehicle contains reissued VIN" brand has had its vehicle identification number re-issued. This can happen when a window sticker is damaged or lost and needs to be replaced or if the same VIN is reused.

Vehicle Age

Vehicle age refers to how much time has passed since that specific car was manufactured. A vehicle’s age can help you determine how much wear and tear it may have experienced, as well as the likelihood it will need repairs in the near future. In addition, you can use age and mileage to decide whether a car is worth the sales price; older vehicles and those with high mileage may be cheaper but could require replacement parts or frequent maintenance.

Vehicle Lease

A vehicle lease is a financing tool that allows you to “rent” a car for a set period of time. Unlike a car purchased through a loan, leased vehicles will have to be returned to a dealership at the end of your terms. In addition, leases involve making monthly payments, and lessees may be required to meet specific requirements to maintain temporary ownership. These requirements include retaining additional insurance policies, adhering to mileage limits, and paying certain fees.

Vehicle History Report

A vehicle history report is a tool that allows you to see numerous details about a car’s past, including its accident history, title records, automotive specs, “total loss” records, pricing, crash test ratings, and manufacturing information. You can use these reports to determine whether a seller is honest about a car’s specifics and decrease your chances of falling prey to a car-buying scam.

Vehicle Non-Conformity (Corrected)

This brand is the same as the one above, with a defect or abnormality causing a decrease in performance or value. The difference between the two is that with a corrected vehicle non-conformity, the issue in question has been repaired.

Vehicle Non-Conformity (Uncorrected)

If a part within a vehicle is defective or any condition affecting the internal components causes a substantial decrease in effectiveness, a car may receive a vehicle non-conformity brand. These issues can also affect the car's total value without decreasing its ability to drive. For an uncorrected non-conformity, the defect remains unfixed.

Vehicle Reacquired

A reacquired vehicle is one a manufacturer has repurchased due to a possible issue. For example, cars can be reacquired voluntarily to satisfy customer complaints or may be reacquired due to a court order. These vehicles can be repaired (if necessary), reinspected, and resold, usually as manufacturer buyback vehicles.

Vehicle Safety Defect (Corrected)

This brand is the same as the one above, with a reported defect affecting the car's ability to perform or its overall value. The difference is that the damage or abnormality has been corrected for this manufacturer's reported defect.

Vehicle Safety Defect (Uncorrected)

A vehicle safety defect brand is similar to a non-conformity brand; the difference is in who reports the defect. If a governing body within a particular jurisdiction reports a defect, it's declared a vehicle non-conformity. If the manufacturer reports a defect, it's declared a vehicle safety defect. In the case of an "uncorrected" brand, that means the defect remains unrepaired.

Vehicle Service Performed

A vehicle that has been identified as having a “vehicle service performed” simply indicates that the car in question has been serviced or undergone a specific repair.

Vehicle Sold with Damage

A vehicle sold with damage is one that was formerly used in a fleet or for another commercial purpose that experienced damage and was subsequently resold. To ensure buyers are aware of the car’s issues, companies will disclose any previous damage in adherence to their own standards or any related laws. Companies will sell these vehicles with this disclosure to save money on repairs, and so they can replace the cars with brand new vehicles.


A vehicle identification number, or VIN, is a 17-character code assigned to a specific vehicle that serves as its unique identifier. VIN numbers are given when a car is manufactured and can usually be found on its dash, on its driver’s side, door, or title. VIN numbers can be used to determine numerous details about your car and are often utilized by mechanics, insurance companies, and manufacturers. For example, a mechanic can use a VIN to identify what parts they will need; an insurance company will use it to help determine a driver’s rates; and manufacturers can use them to track their vehicle or during recalls.

VIN Decoder

A VIN decoder is a tool that allows you to extract information from a vehicle identification number. Each part of a 17-character VIN relates to a distinct detail about a vehicle, usually its manufacturing origins, vehicle attributes, model year, plant code, and other identifying characteristics. With a VIN decoder, you can see the vehicle’s plant of manufacture and additional plant information (depending on what tool you use).

VIN Report

A VIN report, or VIN check, is a similar tool to a vehicle history report. You can use these tools to see various details about any available vehicle, including title changes, damage brands, accident history, correct mileage, number of previous owners, active recalls, and service history. VIN reports are an invaluable tool when searching for a used vehicle, as you can use this information to assist you during negotiations. If you spot inconsistencies in the vehicle’s maintenance or accident history, it’s easier to get money taken off the asking price.

VIN Replaced by a New State Assigned VIN

If a vehicle is rebuilt, refurbished, or reconstructed, it may receive a new VIN. In this case, its title will also get a "VIN replaced by a new state assigned VIN" brand.

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Walk-Away Lease

A walk-away lease allows the borrower to return their vehicle at the end of their lease terms without paying any extra fees based on the car’s residual value. Like other lease types, many walk-away leases will require a down payment plus monthly premiums. The lessee may also have to adhere to certain criteria, like regular maintenance or additional insurance coverage. Walk-away leases can have a few distinct advantages, including lower monthly payments and the ability to easily switch their car out after a lease term has expired.


A warranty is a special type of coverage provided by manufacturers or dealerships on purchased vehicles. With a warranty, drivers can get specific repairs or replacements completed free of charge as long as they fall within the set time or mileage. These manufacturer warranties come in many types, with the most popular being bumper-to-bumper (which covers nearly everything in the car) and a powertrain warranty (which covers a car’s propulsion system). There are also extended warranties, which are purchased separately and go into effect once the manufacturer warranty expires.

Warranty Return

If a vehicle is under warranty and a breach of that warranty occurs, the car may be retitled as a warranty return. Due to specific legal requirements, a car with this title will be returned to the manufacturer. Depending on the associated laws, a car may be repaired or refurbished until it meets the necessary criteria, and a manufacturer may be able to sell it again.

Water Damage

A water-damaged vehicle is any car that has experienced damage due to flooding. This damage can affect any number of systems within the vehicle, including the engine, power train, transmission, electrical systems, interior, or exterior. For some water-damage definitions, water has to rise at least 6 inches from the vehicle’s floor to qualify. Insurers will usually declare cars with water damage a total loss, as the problems flooding causes can be difficult to repair effectively.

Wear and Tear

Wear and tear refers to the amount a vehicle has deteriorated due to normal operation, exposure, and use. Unlike damage due to an accident or collision, wear and tear is considered a normal part of a vehicle’s lifespan. Examples of wear and tear include the wear to brakes, tires, lights, and minor damage to the exterior.

Wheel Offset

The offset of a wheel is the distance between the centerline of a wheel and its hub mounting surface. Wheel offsets are usually separated into three categories: zero offset, where the hub mounting surface is even with the wheel centerline; positive, where the hub mounting surface is located closer to the wheel face; and negative, where the hub mourning surface is located on the back half of the wheel.

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Zero-Emission Vehicles

A zero-emission vehicle, or ZEV, is a car that emits no pollutants or forms of gas during operation. This sets them apart from internal combustion engine vehicles, which tend to have high emissions and can contribute significantly to pollution. While non-automotive vehicles like bicycles fall under this category, all-electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars can also qualify as zero-emission vehicles. Zero-emission vehicles are considered far better for the environment; because of this, several laws have been passed encouraging the increased production of zero or low-emission vehicles.

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