Consumer Title Resource | Since 2009!

Buying a Car With No Title

Considering Buying a Car Without a Title?

  • Ask the seller first
    Are you thinking about buying a car without getting a title? Well, here are some things to consider before you do that. First of all, ask the seller why they don’t have a title. If they are the legal owner of that car, they’re supposed to have a title document in their hands with their name on it that they can sign over to you on the spot. Don’t ask for it later; don’t let it melt away, because if they don’t have it in their hands, there’s a reason for it.
  • Verify the story
    Whatever the story is, they tell you about not having a title; verify the story. If it’s because they lost it, well, have them get a duplicate. If it’s because the bank is sending it to them, make sure the bank actually has the loan paid off. Is it because it’s in somebody else’s name? Well, then they’re selling somebody else’s car, and you want to deal with that person.
  • Protect your investment
    If, for some reason, you have some very urgent necessity to buy a car that doesn’t have a title, hold back some or all of the money until you get the title in your hands. I can’t tell you how many times we get calls; it’s every single day from somebody who bought a car Craigslist eBay friend in the parking lot that the person said, “I’ll send you the title,” like out of the home I forgot to bring it with me, “I’ll mail it to you,” and then they never hear from them again. Their pager number goes blank, they can’t text them, and they disappear. That’s because they never had the title to begin with. So if they don’t have it on them, you’re probably never going to get it, and it may cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars to get the title if you can get it at all.

Check the seller’s identity.

  • Insist on proper identification
    Make sure you get a good ID from that seller. Look at their license and write down their name. Make sure that the name matches the title. If you don’t get a good ID, you won’t know who you’re dealing with. And until you have that car in your name, you’re going to be at risk.
  • Beware of Jump Titles
    Also, look to see if it’s a jump title. Make sure it’s not sold from one person to another, because that might cause problems getting the title in your name if each one of those transactions has not been logged with the DMV. A lot of times, cars without titles are a case of passing the buck. Somebody got a car; they didn’t get a title; they couldn’t get one; they sold it to somebody else. That person’s run into the same problem; now they sell it to you. You don’t want to be the game of musical chairs; it has no chair. These titles are not easy to get if you don’t have them in your hands.

Understanding Title Pawns and Liens

  • Beware of title pawns
    The most common reason for not having a title is title pawn or lean. Somebody has a car, they have it idle, they need some extra cash, they go to TitleMax or one of the title pawn companies, they hand over their title to get a loan on it, and then they sell the car. Well, you’re not going to get that title until the loan’s paid off. Title Pawn, Title Max, or any of the companies that lend money hold the title for a reason: to get their money. So they’re not going to give it up just because somebody else has the car.
  • Avoid Unfinished Liens
    The oldest trick in the book—they’re not going to fall for it. If you have a car that doesn’t have a title, try to go back to that seller and have them unwind that deal. You can do any kind of search you want; you can search for carfax, you can search online; those aren’t going to catch things like liens or things like jump titles. Your only protection is actually to have a title that has the name of the seller on it that you watch them sign and put in your hands.

Secure the title
Today, we just had a customer that was sold a car and given some paperwork by a body shop saying that they’re doing a mechanic’s lien to get a title, and they just gave them all the unfinished mechanic’s lien paperwork and said all you got to do is bring it to DMV. Well, the reality is they didn’t do the mechanic’s lien process correctly, so this buyer is never going to get a title. The only way you can be assured is to get the title handed to you. If you don’t get it, you’re going to be at risk of never getting a title or incurring the expense of getting one before you can legally own that vehicle and put it in your name.

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Don’t let uncertainty hold you back. If it’s your car, you deserve a title.

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