Consumer Title Resource | Since 2009!

A Clean VIN Search Does Not Guarantee a Clean Title

Looking for a reason why you should never buy a car without a title? A perfect example of this occurred in Texas, where a woman was attempting to sell a vehicle without a title at a discounted price, but it turned out to be a rented car she was now trying to sell. You may think that if you buy a car with a bill of sale, and you check to see if it’s stolen or has liens, and it has a clean title, you’re in good shape. However, here’s the catch: if you were trying to buy the car from this woman and did a title check on it, it wouldn’t show any liens because it’s a rental car, and it wouldn’t show stolen because she rented it. You might assume that everything is okay, but unless you are physically handed a title at the time of purchase, and that title is valid (meaning that the name of the person on the title is the same as who you’re buying it from, it’s properly signed over, and it’s a legitimate title), you still could have problems. If you’re not getting a title, you risk losing all your money unless everything goes right with your title recovery.

Title recovery vs. Title transfer

Title recovery is different from just a title transfer. When you buy a car and receive a title, you simply sign the back, and it gets transferred to your name by the DMV. However, if you don’t receive a title when you buy it, you’ll have to go through a lot of hassle to obtain it. A bill of sale by itself is often not enough to get you a title, like in this case. If this person gave you a bill of sale, it wouldn’t help you get a title. It’s just a receipt of somebody taking your money, and it doesn’t prove that you’re the car’s owner, nor does it prove that they were the car’s owner. Therefore, a title check might be something that you think will clear things up, but if you did a title check on this person’s car, it won’t be reported stolen, have any liens, say salvage, or have back taxes. It’ll all look legitimate, like a clean title, but you’ll be out of your money. For instance, she tried to sell it for $10,000. If somebody paid her $10,000 and took the car, and once it was found out that the car was a rental, your title would be revoked, and you would be out of your money. The rental car company won’t give you their car for free, and you won’t be able to get your money back from the scammer because they probably spent it. So, you’re out of your hard-earned money.

So, the moral of the story is: do not buy a car without a title because you’re putting yourself at risk. The risk is still present even if you buy an old barn-find cheap car without a title. Until you have that magic certificate issued by the government of a title with your name on it, your money is completely at risk. There are a lot of things that could come up that keep you from getting a title. However, all the tools and resources to try to get a title are available on our website. But remember, until you have that clean title in your hand, your ownership is at risk because you’re not considered a legal owner until the title is issued by the government with your name on it.

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