Consumer Title Resource | Since 2009!

Didn’t Get A Title From A Car Dealer?

Curb Stoning: A Persistent Problem
So here’s another example of curb stoning or backyard car selling that proves it’s still going on. This is something that’s been going on for 40 plus years. For a while in the ’90s, it kind of fell out of favor, but now with less um prosecution or regulation, there’s more and more people doing it.

A Case in Cambria County
In Cambria County, this is in Pennsylvania, there was a person who was basically buying and selling cars out of their backyard. And it’s illegal if you’re somebody who buys and sells cars for a living. You have to have a dealer’s license. You have to have a licensed automotive dealer. Very difficult to get a license. You have to have insurance, a commercial location, all kinds of things. And most people don’t want to go through that. They just want to kind of flip cars, buy them on Craigslist, sell them on Facebook, maybe buy them at auctions.

Risks for Consumers
The problem for consumers, for buyers, is that it puts you in a bad spot for a number of reasons. First of all, the vehicles are not properly represented. If you’re a licensed dealer, you have to provide certain representations that the vehicle is safe for the road, it’s been inspected, even if you sell it as is. There’s a lot of requirements that you have. Backyard dealers don’t do any of that because they don’t have a license at risk. They don’t have anything to risk.

Unlicensed Dealers and False Advertising
In fact, according to the lawsuit, this person had been selling used vehicles, many of them in need of major repairs, through Facebook Marketplace. He even used the name Dave’s Auto Sales on his ads, but he was not licensed to sell the vehicles. So that’s a problem. What else could go wrong? He advertised the vehicles as roadworthy, but the vehicles needed repairs and did not have valid titles. There’s another big huge red flag.

The Title Issue
You might buy a car from one of these backyard curbstoners and not get a title. I can’t tell you how many times our sales staff, you know, we get hundreds and hundreds of calls every day. People say I bought a car from this guy on Facebook or Craigslist, and I didn’t get a good title, or the title I got was no good. So that’s another problem because if it’s a licensed dealer, even though problems happen with licensed dealers, they normally have to fix it because their license is at stake.

Consumer Confidence
According to the article, the person made himself a trustworthy car dealer and broke consumer’s confidence in buying a reliable vehicle. He refused to provide customers with a written agreement, refused to submit paperwork to PennDOT and complete the title. In some cases, he legally repossessed the vehicles and did not have a license to do installment contracts.

Verifying Dealer Legitimacy
So again, this is not a new thing. We’ve seen it before. It’s very important that if you are purchasing a vehicle, you either determine that it’s a licensed legitimate dealer or if it is a private seller, that’s fine. If it is a private seller, make sure when you look at the title, and here’s a title certificate, you’ve seen them before, that you look at the name on that title. Who’s the legal owner? And make sure that the person you’re buying it from is that owner. Check their ID. Don’t just have them sign on the back because if the vehicle’s already signed over on the back, you won’t be able to get a title.

Flip Titles and Their Consequences
That’s called a flip title or jump title. It’s the same as not having a title. Once a vehicle is signed over to somebody, the buyer listed, they have to get a new title first with their name printed on the front before it can go to another person. So if you’re buying a vehicle, protect yourself. Ninety percent of the title problems that we hear about from consumers are things that could have been prevented at the time of sale: flip title, jump title, maybe a title that has white out or damage on it, maybe not even getting a title.

The Importance of a Valid Title
Anytime you purchase a vehicle, don’t get a title, you might think, well, a bill of sale is good enough. Many times you can get a title with a bill of sale, but it doesn’t always work. There are some vehicles that are not eligible for a title. Sometimes the last owner didn’t pay their taxes, and they have back taxes. That vehicle’s frozen. Sometimes there’s liens on vehicles. So there are things that come up that can prevent you from getting a title, no matter how good of a bill of sale you have.

Potential Risks
Sometimes the person selling it doesn’t even belong to them. Look, in theory, think about this. If I went to, you know, Hertz Gold Enterprise—I’m sorry, Hertz Gold Rental Car—and I rented a car tomorrow, and I’m driving it, and I put it on Craigslist for sale, and I say, hey, I lost the title, I’ll give you a bill of sale. That car is not reported stolen, doesn’t have any liens on it. So if you did a title check on it, it would look clear. And I take your money, I give you the keys, I give you a bill of sale, you think you’re good to go. That car didn’t belong to me. That’s a Hertz rental car.

More Potential Issues
So that may not be the case with a lot of these title problems, but it just goes to show that unless you have the valid title certificate, which you know what it looks like, you’ve seen it, a bill of sale isn’t good enough. It’ll help with some of the methods of getting a title, but by itself, it doesn’t mean you automatically get one. And the work you might have to do to get a title could be pretty substantial. Sure, we can help, but there’s many things that come up that could be issues.

Seeking Assistance
So make sure you’re protecting yourself. If you do decide to purchase a vehicle without a title, be aware that your money’s at risk until you actually get that title in your hand. And there’s ways to do it. A lot of times it works. You know, 70, 80, 90% of the time it works, but sometimes there’s a gotcha on a vehicle: a lien, a salvage, parts only, maybe some claim against the vehicle, maybe probate. A lot of things can come up.

Vehicle Inspection Issues
Sometimes it’s even not about the title. It’s about the vehicle. Some states require that when a title is transferred, the car gets inspected. What if the car doesn’t pass inspection? What if it doesn’t pass emissions? Some states, like California, if the vehicle doesn’t pass emissions, no title. They call it smog in California. So do your homework.

Solutions and Support
If you are stuck in a situation where you’ve already purchased a vehicle with no title, that’s okay. Look at the solutions on our website at There are some good people there that you can call up that will help you walk through your process. We can give you free consumer advice from our website. We can do consultations, we can prepare documents, we can give you blank documents, whatever we can do to help.

We love helping people get titles because we know how hard it is to get a title for your vehicle. We deal with DMV all the time. We know how hard it is, so we want to help in any way we can. But there’s no magic bullet to just demand a title and get one. If you have a vehicle without a title, expect there’s going to be a little bit of effort, but in the long run, don’t despair. You’ll probably be able to get one unless it’s something like a stolen car or parts only car. In that case, you’re probably going to have more trouble than you think you might. Let us know how we can be of assistance. We’d love to help people get titles. Talk to you then. Bye for now.

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