What is a Car Title?
A car title is a legal document that proves who owns a particular car. Typically, the Department of Motor Vehicles or Secretary of State manages these types of documents. When a car is sold or ownership is transferred, you must file paperwork with your state to change the title.
A car’s title also shows the unique Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), mileage at the time of sale, and any liens that may be on the vehicle. If you sell a car, you should keep a copy of the title that shows who you sold it to for your records. If the car is involved in an accident, without proof of sale or transfer of ownership the original owner could be liable for any damages.
When you sell a car in Arizona, it may also be a good idea to follow up with the Department of Motor Vehicles just to make sure that ownership has been fully transferred to the buyer.
I Can’t Find or Never Had the Car’s Title
Losing or misplacing a car’s title is a surprisingly common problem. If you don’t know where your car’s title is, don’t panic. There are many reasons you might not have the title, and if it was indeed lost, there are ways to replace it.
If your car was financed, for example, the lender may have kept ahold of the title until the car is paid off. In addition, some states do not issue titles for cars over a certain age, usually vehicles over 25 years old.
If the bank has the title to your car, once you find a buyer, you will use the buyer’s money to pay off the loan. You will need to talk to your lender about the payoff value prior to listing your vehicle for sale. Once you pay off the loan, the bank will release the title to you, the seller. You, in turn, will sign over the title to the buyer.
Some banks will send the title directly to the buyer, but it depends on the lender and how accommodating they are. One thing is for sure though. No matter who your lender is, there is a process in place for transferring ownership of a vehicle. Give them a call, and they will be happy to walk you through it.
If your state doesn’t issue a title for the car, you will need to give the buyer a document that includes the same information that would be contained on a regular title. This includes the VIN, odometer reading, weight class of the car, and contact information for both the buyer and seller. Make sure to notarize the document for added validity. Typically, you get documents notarized at your bank for a low fee or even for free. Your DMV or tag agency will also have a notary available.
If you’re selling the vehicle across state lines, you’ll want to encourage the buyer to check with their home state for registration requirements to make sure they can get a title issues if needed. Again, always keep a copy of the document for your records.
Cars that have been totaled may not have a standard title either. Depending on the nature of the accident or incident, the vehicle may be unsafe to drive. It may not matter how much work has been done on the car. In this case, your best option may be to sell the car to an entity that won’t require a title, such as a junkyard or salvage yard.
How Can I Acquire a Replacement Title
If you have lost the title to your car, it’s a fairly easy process to replace it at your local DMV. Simply follow the process to request a replacement title before selling your car. Be sure to give the agency enough time to process your request so you can be sure to have a title in hand before you meet with your buyer. You may also need to show your driver’s license, insurance card, and registration information.
Some states have made this information available online, but you should still expect to provide documentation that the title belongs to you. It could also take a few weeks to receive the title unless you pay extra for faster processing time.
Who Will Remove a Vehicle Without a Title?
Selling a vehicle without a title isn’t impossible, but the buyers might be limited. You should check the specific rules in your state, but in general, salvage yards and car junk dealers can remove a vehicle without needing a title. This is because these businesses aren’t going to make the vehicle operable again, but will instead sell the parts.
You may not get the same price you could get for an operable vehicle with a title, but in make cases, you can sell a title-less vehicle for quickly for cash. Expect to explain the circumstances surrounding not having a title, as well as how you came to own the car. It’s a good option if you have a car that cannot be titled and that you don’t want to let sit on your property.
What if the Vehicle Has Been Abandoned?
An abandoned vehicle is one that can be registered but is sitting on private or public property as lost, stolen, or unclaimed. If you have a vehicle on your property that is not titled and does not belong to you but for which you have custody, you should file the appropriate paperwork with your Department of Motor Vehicles. The DMV then sends notice to the owners or lienholders on file to reclaim the vehicle within a certain time frame, generally 30 days depending on your state. If the vehicle goes unclaimed, the DMV can then transfer ownership to the person who filed the paperwork. Not all vehicles qualify as abandoned vehicles. It pays to check the law before assuming you can request a transfer of ownership.
Getting rid of a car without a title doesn’t have to be a major pain. Whether you choose to sell it to a junkyard for cash or you need to sell a vehicle that you’ve financed with a bank, chances are there’s a process in place in your state that will provide you with the step-by-step information you need to get rid of your car, and make some extra money while you’re at it.
Are you trying to sell your car in Arizona? Contact us today and let us know how we can help.