Car dealers must disclose if a vehicle has a branded title

Another type of auto fraud is when the dealer fails to disclose that a vehicle has a branded title. A branded title is one with a permanent notation on it that the vehicle has a serious defect. Here's a list of the title brands used by the Minnesota Department of Motor Vehicles:

  • Prior Salvage. This is usually used to indicate that the vehicle has previously been declared a total loss by an insurance company, often because of a prior accident.

  • Flood. The vehicle has suffered flood or water damage.

  • Reconstructed. The vehicle has been altered by the removal or substitution of essential parts

  • Rebuilt. The vehicle has sustained damage in excess of 80% of its cash value and the "Prior Salvage" brand doesn't apply

  • Lemon Law Vehicle. This usually indicates that the vehicle has been bought back by the manufacturer under the lemon law.

Minnesota law requires that a dealer verbally tell you about the brand during the sales presentation--they aren't required to disclose it in writing. This can create a he said/she said situation where the buyer asserts that the dealer never told her about the branded title and the dealer swears that he did. But just because it's your word against the dealers, doesn't mean that you don't have a case. I believe that juries understand that most people would never knowingly buy a branded title vehicle. So if you're stuck with a branded title vehicle because the dealer didn't tell you about it, consider talking to a lawyer who handles auto fraud cases.