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Just Bought A Car With No Title? Here’s What To Do

Congratulations on your new car! However, the car may not technically be yours yet if you bought a car with no title. What makes a car legally yours is having a title that proves you own said car. While it may seem tiresome at first, completing the car title transfer process is crucial. You’ll thank yourself for going through the trouble when you’re enjoying your new ride, free of all the paperwork!

What Is a Car Title?

Before transferring a car title, you should first understand what a car title is. A car title is legal proof of the ownership of a car. You may have heard of a car title being referred to as a “pink slip” in the past. However, they’re rarely pink nowadays, their appearance varying by the state you’re in. Despite their differences, they usually include the same key points of information:

  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Make
  • Model
  • Year
  • Odometer mileage
  • Date of registration

Another concern besides purchasing a car with no title is purchasing a car with a fake title, some telltale signs being incorrect information and discoloration on the document.

Why Are Car Titles Important?

Owning the title is important because it’s legal proof that you officially own the car. If any impactful events or damages are involved with the car in the future, the title changes along with those incidents to reflect the details of them, to inform any of the car’s future owners about its history. Obtaining a car title is important in the same way as any other legal document is, which is to prevent any related legal complications that could occur. For example, if you want to sell the vehicle again, you’ll need the title to change hands, making it a necessary part of your car’s life cycle.

Before Buying a Car With no Title

Before you close the deal, you should have a clear picture of the previous owner’s situation with the title. In most straightforward cases, you’ll receive the vehicle title when you pay off your car loan, the lender keeping the title on file in the meantime. You should also confirm the vehicle’s lien status, ensuring that the current owner doesn’t have an ongoing loan associated with the car preventing you from receiving the car title. Taking precautions such as verifying that the VIN on the car and paperwork match up, and ensuring that there aren’t any additional owners listed on the title will make sure that you don’t fall victim to common schemes such as title washing and title jumping.

How To Transfer A Car Title

The process, while intimidating at first glance, is fairly simple. Usually, the seller is supposed to fill out the title document with some required details, sign it, and relinquish ownership of the car to you. Afterward, you can collect your new title and register your new ride at the DMV! This process has become even simpler in recent times, with many states’ DMVs offering you the option to transfer your car title online and pay for the fees involved with your credit card. If not, you can still take the route of transferring your title by mail or in person.

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