Consumer Title Resource | Since 2009!

Most Common Car Title Problems Liens, Bill of Sale, Salvage

So what is the most common question about getting a car title? A lot of times, people call up, and the questions we get over the course of a day or week, 90% of them, will be a very similar scenario. It goes something like this: “I bought a car. I did not get a title. I have a bill of sale. How can I get a title now?”

Bill of Sale Not Sufficient for Title
What’s not said in that question is how do you know that you need to get a title? Well, the reason that most people know that is because they already went to the DMV with their bill of sale and they found out that that wasn’t good enough to get a title. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be calling us. If you already found that out, you’ll call us up. If you just thought you could go down to DMV with a title, you wouldn’t be calling up random companies on the internet. You would just get you a title. But what you probably found out is a bill of sale is not sufficient to give you a title. Now, there are some methods you could use to go through some loopholes and different processes, but directly to get a title with a bill of sale, that does not work, and you probably already know that. That’s the most common question, and we’ll answer that here in a moment.

Removing a Lien from a Title
The next most common question is how do I get a lien removed from a title? That’s the next most common question, and we’ll talk about that here in a minute, how you do that too.

Salvage or Auction Title Issues
Then the third most common question is what about a salvage title or an auction title from Copart or a junk title? What do I do with that car? So we’re going to cover all three of those here in this video.

Bill of Sale Title Recovery
First, let’s talk about a bill of sale title recovery. If you have a vehicle you’ve purchased and when you bought it, you did not get a title, you only got a bill of sale, you’re not going to have a direct route to getting a title because the DMV, which is the government agency who issues titles—and to back up a little bit, a title is a legal government document. It’s only issued by a government agency. You can’t buy one from a company. You can’t download one from the internet. It’s like a birth certificate, a driver’s license, a passport. It’s a government document, and they only give you one if you have the old one from the last owner properly signed over to you. If you don’t have that, you’re out of luck until you do one of these things.

Options for Getting a Title
Option number one, you can get a surety bond and get a bonded title to process where you get basically a guarantee from a surety company that says, “We trust this person that they’re the owner of the vehicle. Go ahead and give them a title.” And there’s more information about that on our website at car

Another option a lot of people do is you can use a process by going through another state. Most of the time, it’s used the state of Vermont, using your bill of sale to get an ownership document from Vermont that’s similar to a title and then bring that to your state to exchange for a title. That’s another thing that people do very, very often. That’s probably the most common thing people do. It may not be the best thing, but for whatever reason, that’s what most people do. And there’s some other options as well. All the different ways you can get a title with a bill of sale, we have them listed on our website that you can see on the screen, car titles dot com. And if you have questions, you can email us at help car titles dot com is the email. We have a help desk.

Dealing with Liens
What about liens? If you have a lien on a vehicle, that’s going to stop you from getting a title. If you try to get a title from the DMV and they find out there’s a lien in the lien record history, blocked, red flag, that title is on hold. So the first thing you need to do is get a document from the lien holder that says, “We don’t care about this car. We don’t want to collect on the lien. The lien’s paid. It’s charged off. It’s a write-off,” or whatever they say. They have to put it in writing. The DMV is not going to take your word for it. Even if you know it’s paid, even if you know they don’t want the car, they’re not going to take your verbal word for it at the DMV, like, “I promise there’s no lien on this car,” because if they did that, then anybody who had a car loan could just go to the DMV and say, “Oh, this car loan’s paid,” and they would take your word for it. That doesn’t work that way. You have to get it in writing.

Now, that may seem like a hard thing to do. It’s really not that hard to do. Maybe you tried to do it, but I’m guessing if you did try, you did it by phone. You tried to call up the lien holder and said, “Give me a lien release,” and you couldn’t get through, or they wouldn’t talk to you, or you ran into a runaround. That’s because you tried to do it by phone. If you do it in writing, you’ll get a lien release nine times out of ten.

How do you do it in writing? It’s a little more complicated than this video can describe, but we have entire videos to tell you exactly how to do it. You fill out a certain form. You prepare a letter of not interest. You print it on paper. Don’t email it to them. Don’t text message it to them. Don’t send it to them by Facebook. Print it on paper. Put it in an envelope with a stamp and mail it to them. There’s four things you want to put in that envelope to make that work. We list all those four things, and we tell you how to do it. You could do it all yourself for free. You don’t have to pay anybody to do this. We have a service, of course, where if you want us to do it for you, we can for money, but you don’t have to pay that. You can do this all yourself, but you have to follow the instructions. Otherwise, it won’t work. We send out two or three hundred lien releases a week, and we’ve been doing it for more than 10 years, and we know what works. If you skip one of those four steps, it won’t work. Less than 10% of the time you’ll get anything. If you do everything correctly, you’ll get it 90% of the time. So use those resources. Watch those other videos about lien releases, and you’ll be in good shape.

Salvage, Rebuilt, and Junk Titles
What about vehicles that come from an auction that’s a salvage or a rebuilt or junk or parts only or one of these kind of insurance claim vehicles? If you’re listening to this and this applies to you, you probably know what Copart means. You probably know what IAA means. Those are auctions where people sell cars that have an insurance claim. And who are these people selling them? They’re insurance companies: Progressive, Geico, Travelers, the insurance companies that insure cars. When they pay out a total loss claim, either for a collision, a theft, a flood, a fire, anything that is a high-paid claim to the vehicle owner, now the insurance company owns the car. They own it. It’s their car. Insurance company doesn’t have a use for a bunch of cars. They’re not collecting cars. They’re not a museum. So they have to get rid of these cars. So what they do is they sell them through these dedicated insurance auctions: Copart, IAA, etc., and people buy them. Now, that title is going to be flagged and stamped, and in the title record, it’s going to say salvage, parts only, certificate of destruction, non-repairable. There’s many different flags that are put on the title record. Different states call them different things. Either way, it’s going to be in the title record. Even if you don’t get a title at the auction, it’s going to be in the record of that vehicle, and that record follows that vehicle no matter where you take it. Every state has that record attached to it. So what do you have to do?

Well, first, if it’s a salvage title, you have a chance. You have a shot. You have to have the vehicle repaired 100% and inspected, and then you can maybe get a title. Now, what do you mean by inspected? Well, every state does it different, but usually what they do is they require that you have receipts for all the parts that you use to fix this car. You have receipts for the labor that you use to fix it, and then they’re going to put it on a machine and check all the alignments, check the frame, make sure everything is good to go for that car being safe on the road. It’s still going to say salvage in the title record, but at least now you can get a new title in your name.

Irreversible Junk or Parts-Only Titles
Other designations for a title like junk or parts only, that cancels the vehicle. Can’t fix it. Can’t sell it. You can never get a title. And you might think, well, why is that the case? My car’s not damaged that much, or it really didn’t need anything. It doesn’t matter what the damage is. If the insurance company puts junk, parts only, destruction, non-repairable, if they put that on the title record, there’s many reasons why they do. We won’t get into that now, but it’s permanent and it’s for a reason. It’s because the insurance company does not want that car back on the road for liability purposes. It doesn’t matter if their reasoning is right or wrong. It doesn’t matter if you think that the car should go on the road. You can’t. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can because you can read the state law and the federal law that says once that’s done, it’s irreversible, irrevocable, and the car is canceled. That VIN number is canceled.

Conclusion and Call for Feedback
And you’re thinking in your head, well, gee, what do I do now? You sell it for parts. That’s what you do. So put your comments below. Let us know what you think. Let us know what questions you have about car titles. What problems have you run into? Do you have difficulty with the DMV? Have you had success with one of these processes: a bonded title, a Vermont registration title? Have you used these before? Did it work out for you? How much did it cost? Let us know what you think. We’ll see you on the next video.

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