Consumer Title Resource | Since 2009!

What Happens If You Buy A Car With No Title?

Title and Vehicle Ownership:
So how does it work if you’re buying a car and not getting a title from the seller? You know, a title is a legal government document issued only by government agency. You’ve seen them before; it’s a certificate that looks like this and that proves that you are the owner of the vehicle that the last title owner sold it to you; they transferred it to you.

Considerations Before Purchase:
If you don’t have that and the seller doesn’t have one to give you, you need to think very carefully about that purchase. Because there’s a chance that you could buy that car and never get a title. You need to first ask the seller why they do not have a legal title document to give you when you give them the money.

Risks and Legal Ownership:
If they’re the legal owner and they just lost it, they can get a duplicate real simple. If they’re not the legal owner, now you’re buying a car from somebody who’s not legally the owner; that could put you at risk. We always recommend that before you buy a car without a title, that you really think twice about: are you willing to put that money at risk?

Potential Issues with Title Acquisition:
Most of the time, it’ll work out and you can get a bill of sale and get a title, but 20-30% of the time, you may never get a title for that vehicle. It could turn out that it has a lien on it, has back taxes, it’s a salvage, it’s parts only, or it could just turn out that the process you would need to do to get a title without having a valid certificate is too hard or too costly or takes too long and you just don’t want to do it.

Additional Claims and Considerations:
There may also be other claims against the vehicle like a probate case or maybe a UCC against the vehicle that could also block the title transfer. So just because you’re getting a bill of sale doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to get a title.

Government Authority on Titles:
Most of the time it does, but the government is the ultimate decider of titles. A title is a legal government document issued only by a government agency. You can’t buy one from a company; you can’t download one from the internet. It only happens after the government decides that you are legally entitled to be the owner of that vehicle.

Challenges Without a Title:
And if you don’t have the title certificate that proves that, they’re going to make you jump through a lot of hoops. Now, there’s ways to make it easier; our website will give you instructions on how you can make that process easier, and we also have a title server so we could do that as well. But we never recommend buying a vehicle without a title unless you’re willing to take the risk with the money you’re paying for that car.

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

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