If you recently came into possession of a junk car without title or registration or you want to offload a vehicle you have that does not have title or registration, you may have a few options. Read on to learn more about this issue and the possible solutions.
What is a Car Title?
A car title is a document that provides ownership of a vehicle. It contains important information about a vehicle, including:
- The name of the most recently registered owner
- The body and style of the vehicle
- The vehicle identification number
- The vehicle’s mileage at the last sale
When a person signs over ownership of a vehicle, he or she usually provides the buyer with a signed title. Without a title, it is difficult to prove who owns the vehicle. Selling a vehicle without a title is like selling a house without a deed.
Why do You Need a Car Title or Registration for a Junk Car?
If you do not have a title for a vehicle, the implication is that the car may be stolen. However, this is not always the case. The title could have been lost or burnt in a house fire. A person could have inherited the vehicle. However, when a person does not have a title, it can be more difficult to register the vehicle, and this can decrease the value of the vehicle. Driving an unregistered vehicle can subject the driver to potential penalties if he or she is pulled over.
Laws on Selling a Junk Car Without a Title
Laws vary from state to state as to whether you can sell a junk car without a title and the process that is involved. Some states specifically prohibit selling a vehicle without a title. In many states where it is technically legal to sell a vehicle without a title, the seller may be required to eventually produce the title or to sign a document stating that they are authorizing the new owner to receive a duplicate title. Before attempting to buy or sell a vehicle without a title, contact your local department of motor vehicles.
What To Do With A Car That Has No Title
So, you may think about what to do with your junk car. If the title is simply lost or otherwise unavailable, it may be possible to obtain a replacement title. Doing this first can help avoid complications of selling a vehicle without a title. The process may vary slightly from one jurisdiction to the next. For example, in Connecticut, sellers can complete an Application for Replacement Certificate of Title and Ownership Transfer in Absence of Title to sell the vehicle and apply for the duplicate title at the same time. A Supplemental Assignment of Ownership Form may also be required. Wisconsin offers an online program where vehicle owners can complete a replacement title application.
In many states, it is possible to obtain a duplicate title by filling out some paperwork and including basic information about the owner and the vehicle. Sometimes, the department of motor vehicles can issue a title immediately. In other cases, it may take a few weeks. The owner may be charged a small fee for this service. Many states provide “lost title applications” that the owner completes. The owner may use this form to get a new title before selling the car or that authorizes the buyer to receive the replacement title.
Some states have other types of titles that they may accept, such as:
- Salvage title – A salvage title is a title that is used to confirm ownership of a vehicle that has been declared as a “total loss” by an insurance company, usually after an accident. Often, these vehicles cannot be legally driven on roadways unless they are successfully rebuilt.
- Rebuilt title – A rebuilt title is used when a salvaged vehicle is repaired to roadworthy status. It may be necessary to have a state-approved inspector to evaluate the vehicle before a rebuilt title will be issued.
- Bonded title – A bonded title provides assurance that a vehicle is not stolen. You must pay a bond before obtaining this type of title. Bonded titles are not foolproof documents of ownership and they may be challenged in some situations.
Can You Sell a Junk Car Without a Title?
If you have attempted to replace the title but have not been successful, you may still be able to sell the junk car without a title. Some options may be:
Use Alternative Titling Methods
People may come in possession of a vehicle in different ways besides a typical transaction involving a title. For example, a vehicle may have been abandoned on their property. An owner may have walked away from a vehicle when they could not afford the repair bills. There may be alternative methods to title the car. For example, in Virginia, a mechanic’s lien can be filed on the vehicle if repair bills were not paid. You can then file for an abandoned vehicle title.
One alternative method that Kelley Blue Book makes is to register a vehicle in Vermont. If you provide a bill of sale and the appropriate taxes and fees to register a vehicle 15 years or older, you can get the vehicle registered there even though you do not have the title. Once the vehicle is registered, this acts as proof of ownership that is recognized in the other 49 states.
Prepare a Bill of Sale
Some states may accept a bill of sale as acceptable proof of ownership. States differ as to form requirements, however, so check with your local DMV to see if you need to use a particular form or if you need to have it notarized.
Arrange a Transfer through the Lender
If you still owe money to a lienholder for the vehicle, you may be able to transfer the vehicle with the lienholder’s permission. This may allow the buyer to assume your payments. Once the buyer finishes payments, the lienholder can hand over the title to the buyer.
A title is an important piece of paper that shows you are the owner of a vehicle. There may be ways to replace this lost document or to sell a car without it, but check with your DMV first to find out what the applicable rules are.