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DMV’s Official Guidelines on Used Vehicle Title Regulations

In our business, we deal with various DMVs across the country regularly, and many times they provide valuable information to consumers about how titles work. When purchasing a vehicle, it’s essential to understand what information is required, and reading the DMV’s guidelines can help you avoid title problems. We will discuss some common issues consumers may encounter when titling their vehicle and the DMV’s recommendations for solving them. However, some title problems cannot be resolved, and you may never obtain a title for your vehicle. Therefore, you must exercise great caution.

Let’s look closer at Delaware’s requirements and regulations regarding used vehicle titling, as provided by their titling division. While each state has its own DMV agency and motor vehicle laws, the basic laws and regulations across each state will be very similar. 

First and foremost, verifying that the title matches the vehicle you’re purchasing is essential by checking the VIN on the front of the document. Our sales department has had many customers call in with titles that don’t match the vehicle they possess, which creates a significant issue. This means you don’t have a title for your car; the one you received was for someone else’s vehicle. It’s crucial to start from scratch and act as if you don’t have a title at all, as VINs cannot be altered on titles.

Salvage, rebuilt, flood-damaged, and homemade vehicles

Furthermore, ensure you’re not purchasing a flood-damaged, salvaged, or rebuilt vehicle. Although some individuals believe they can pass a salvage inspection, the DMV doesn’t typically approve vehicles with these title brands, as they don’t want such cars on the road. You may lack the necessary receipts, or the vehicle may not meet factory specifications, which would result in a failed inspection. This poses a significant issue.

What if you’re dealing with a homemade vehicle? Sometimes, individuals construct cars from scratch and must obtain a new VIN before attempting to acquire a title. This is a prerequisite – you must have a VIN to make an application for a vehicle title. 

Lien titles, skipped titles, and curbstoners

If your vehicle has a lien holder, that is crucial to note. Even if the lien isn’t reported on the title, the lien holder has precedence if it appears in the title records. You cannot obtain a title until the lien is removed from the title record. A way to accomplish this is by requesting a lien release letter or letter of non-interest, but it must be addressed before proceeding with anything else.

Another critical point to consider is what’s known as “jumping” or “skipping” a title. What does this entail? If the signature of the person who sold you the vehicle is already on the title, but you’re buying it from someone else, you may be dealing with an illegal dealer or an individual who is not the original owner. This is referred to as a jump or skip title. The seller might be a curb stoner who flips cars without a dealer’s license.

The original owner has already sold the vehicle, so if something goes wrong with that transfer, you won’t be able to locate them. This is a common occurrence – an individual purchases a car from someone who bought it from another person, who purchased it from yet another individual. The title has changed hands, but the record has not been updated. Now you’re attempting to locate the original owner, who is no longer in the picture. This is illegal in Delaware and most other states. You cannot skip a title. Before selling it to someone else, you must obtain a new title in your name after changing the title.

Imported vehicles & title timeline

It’s crucial to exercise caution when dealing with vehicles titled in another country. Some cars can enter the US under a DOT or EPA exemption if they’re at least 25 years old. However, this exemption does not necessitate the issuance of a title by the state. It simply exempts the vehicle from various DOT and EPA standards. If the vehicle was not manufactured for the US and does not meet those standards, it can still be imported. 

Nevertheless, the state may refuse to provide you with a title and registration, and you may be required to spend thousands of dollars at a federally licensed shop to complete the process. Therefore, just because the car has been imported does not imply that the state must provide a title. Moreover, most states impose a penalty if you fail to change the title within a specified period of time, usually 30 days.

These are some excellent pieces of advice and recommendations from the DMV, thanks to the Delaware DMV. While there are undoubtedly more, these are several of the most frequently asked questions. They’re the same types of questions we hear from individuals who contact us. For example, “I imported the vehicle, but I don’t have a bill of sale, and the VIN number is different.” These and many similar situations involving lienholders arise frequently. Therefore, when purchasing a vehicle, avoiding these issues is critical. However, if you’re already experiencing one of these title problems, our website can provide solutions specific to your situation.

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

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