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Is obtaining a title for an old, beat-up car in lousy condition easier than getting a title for a new car? This is a common question when someone faces difficulties with the DMV in obtaining a title. They argue, “It’s just an old car. It shouldn’t be that hard to get a title.” However, here’s the reality: the DMV does not differentiate how difficult it is to obtain a title based on the car’s worth. Whether you have a $10 million car or a beater, it is equally challenging to get a title.
This is because the DMV does not know the car’s value simply because it’s old or beat up. Some old vehicles hold a high value, and it’s not the DMV’s responsibility to determine a car’s worth. The fact that a vehicle is old or in poor condition doesn’t mean it’s not worth a lot. For example, suppose you came across an old ’69 Yanko Z 28 Camaro in terrible shape. In that case, it could still be worth $300,000 when restored. The DMV cannot give you a title without the proper documentation, as doing so would transfer someone else’s vehicle ownership to you. This is not allowed, even if the car is in bad condition.
By the same token, if the DMV made it harder to get a title because a car was worth more money, that wouldn’t be fair either. A car is a car, and its worth doesn’t matter. Even if a vehicle is only worth a hundred dollars to someone, that person might not want to lose it. Therefore, if the DMV is issuing titles to cars simply because they’re old or low in value, they are not protecting people’s property rights, which is the real purpose of getting a title. Getting a title is not just about you receiving a title; it’s about taking it away from someone else. Once you have a title with your name, other people’s rights to that vehicle are extinguished. The DMV effectively declares that nobody else owns the car anymore.
However, someone else might have legitimate rights to that vehicle, and just because a car is old and beat up doesn’t mean you get to claim it without regard to anybody else’s rights. Therefore, remember that a car’s age or value does not make it any easier to obtain a title. If the car is legitimately yours, with no liens, salvage, or any other issues, and nobody else has any rights to the vehicle, you should have no trouble getting a title.
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