When it comes time to sell your used car, there is a lot of paperwork that must be completed. One of those items is signing the car title over to the new buyer. States use car titles as proof of ownership, so the new owner will be issued a new title in their name once the DMV processes all the paperwork. But, sometimes, titles get lost or damaged. What happens if you are ready to sell your car but don’t have the title? You have options available depending on your specific situation. If you need to sell a car but don’t have a title, then keep reading as we tell you how to do it.
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8 Ways To Sell A Car Without A Title
So, are you wondering how to sell a car without a title? There are several different ways to sell a car without a title, and the one you select might depend on your specific situation. Here are the best ways to accomplish the task.
#1. Get A Replacement Title
If you have a used car and have simply lost or misplaced the title, then you are probably wondering how to get a title for a car. Getting a replacement is going to be your best option. This is also the safest way to sell your vehicle and ensure that the title transfer occurs correctly. Getting a duplicate title is not that difficult. In most cases, it requires a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles, although some states allow you to request a replacement vehicle title online through the DMV website.
You will need to provide some documentation proving your identity, and these requests typically take a couple of weeks to process. You should receive your new title in the mail in about 14 days, in most cases. Once you have the replacement, then you can complete the sale like normal. Complete and sign a bill of sale and sign over the title to the new owner. They can then use this paperwork to head down to the local DMV and get the car registered in their name.
#2. Sell To A Junk Car Buyer
Do you have an old junk car on your property that you need to get rid of with no title? Perhaps you have lost the certificate of title, or maybe you never even had a title in the first place. Junk cars can often be purchased and sold without a title at all. Many of these services will make you an instant cash offer and will even come to you and haul away the car for free.
For a vehicle to qualify as a junk car, it must generally meet specific criteria. The vehicle must be a certain age and below a particular value in most states. For example, a car at least ten years old and worth less than $1,000 may qualify as a junk car. A handful of states still require a title even for the sale of junk cars. You can contact a junk car buyer in your area for more specific information on the paperwork that will be required for the sale.
#3. Write A Bill Of Sale
As the vehicle owner, you may be able to transfer ownership to a new owner simply by writing a bill of sale. For example, in Alabama, titles are not issued for vehicles that are more than 35 years old. So, a model year 1980 car could be sold with a simple bill of sale. It is generally a good idea to provide a current copy of the registration for the vehicle to prove ownership.
The buyer might also wish to close the transaction at a state DMV office. You will also want to make sure that the bill of sale includes all the necessary language to complete the transfer of ownership. You should include the vehicle identification number, odometer reading, and the buyer’s and seller’s names. Upon paying the applicable fees, the new owner will be able to obtain a current registration for the car.
#4. Get A Notarized Bill Of Sale
Getting a notarized bill of sale provides the buyer with an extra layer of protection. Some states even require a notarized bill of sale when selling a vehicle, while others do not. Having a notary present during the signing proves the seller’s identity. However, it does not prove that they actually own the vehicle.
While a notarized bill of sale form is generally better than one that is not notarized, it is still a good idea to ask for some additional documentation that proves ownership of the car. A current registration along with a photo ID like a driver’s license can help prove ownership of the vehicle. Buying a car without a title is a considerable risk, especially if you are not familiar with your state’s laws. If you purchase a car from someone who does not have the authority to sell it, you could end up with a massive headache down the road. You might also be out a large sum of money.
#5. Request Transfer Of Ownership
If you need to sell your car right away, but it has a lost title, then a transfer of ownership request might be the way to go. Not every state will allow this type of request or transaction. This process requires asking the DMV directly to transfer ownership from the current owner to the new owner. This will allow the new owner to take possession of the vehicle, and a temporary permit will be issued so that the buyer can drive the vehicle.
The buyer’s responsibility is to make sure that the new title is issued on time and that the DMV gets all the appropriate paperwork to get that document issued before the temporary permit expires. You might also need an odometer disclosure and a vehicle inspection prior to obtaining new license plates for the vehicle.
#6. Notify The DMV
When you buy a new car (even if it’s a used car), it is usually your responsibility to notify the DMV and get your registration and license plates for the new vehicle. However, the previous owner can notify the DMV that a car has been sold as well. This will ensure that the DMV is aware of the transaction and removes the previous owner’s name from the registration on the car. You will also want to go ahead and notify your insurance company that the vehicle has been sold.
If you perform a trade-in at a dealership, then the dealer will usually handle all the paperwork for you. You will only need to head down to the DMV and obtain the registration for your new vehicle. When performing a private party sale, most of the responsibility is on the buyer to ensure the paperwork is in order.
#7. Notify Your Lienholder
Perhaps your vehicle doesn’t have a lost title at all. Maybe you have a loan on the car, and the lender is holding the title. This is extremely common, and it is not a problem at all when it comes to selling the car. When you have a car loan, the lender will hold the title until the loan is fully paid off. Upon paying off the loan, your lender will mail you the title within a couple of weeks.
If you need to sell your vehicle while the loan is still in effect, then simply complete the transaction at your lender’s office. The lender will accept payment from the buyer to satisfy the loan, and they can even instruct you on how to sign over a car title. You will be issued the difference between the sales price and the payoff amount. They will also give the title to the new owner. This can also be a great way to get out of a car loan, especially if you have equity in the vehicle. Again, if you perform this transaction at a dealership, they will handle all the paperwork. They accept trade-ins every day that still have loans outstanding on them.
#8. Register The Car In Vermont
This should be your last resort, but if all else fails, you might need to register your car in Vermont. Vermont has some special rules when it comes to car titles, and one of them might help you. You can register a car in Vermont with only a bill of sale and payment of some additional fees. Once your vehicle is registered in Vermont, the other 49 states will recognize that registration as proof of ownership.
As you might expect, there is a catch to this rule. The car must be more than 15 years old for this to work. If the vehicle is newer than that, then you will still need a title to register the car in Vermont.
Selling A Car That Is Not In Your Name
Many people wonder, “Can I sell a car if the title is not in my name?” Perhaps the title is issued jointly to you and a spouse, or you need to sell the vehicle of a deceased parent or grandparent. You have a couple of options here as well. First, for jointly titled vehicles, you will need the signature of both car owners to complete the transaction. Car sales that occur without the appropriate signatures are not valid, and the new owner will not be able to register the car. If one of the joint owners is not present, they can issue you a power of attorney to act on their behalf and sign the title. This is a perfectly valid legal document, but remember that the DMV will likely need a copy of the power of attorney document as well.
In the case of a deceased owner, you will need the proper authority from the probate court to sell the vehicle. If you are listed as the estate’s executor, you have the authority to manage the estate’s assets. This includes selling vehicles. Just make sure that you present a valid copy of your letters testamentary to the DMV when transferring ownership to the new owner.
How To Sell A Car If You Cannot Obtain A Title
If you can’t get a pink slip for your vehicle, your options will largely depend on the state in which you live. Some states give you more options than others. The age of the vehicle also plays a role. For example, in Connecticut, you can sell a car without a title if the vehicle is older than 20 years. For newer vehicles, a title is always required.
The best way to determine your options is to contact your local DMV. You might be limited to selling the vehicle to a junk car buyer or selling it for scrap metal. If the car is still in decent shape, then you should explore all your available options before going that route.
The Bottom Line
When you are ready to get rid of that old Honda, Toyota, or Kia, you should start looking for the title. If you can’t find it, don’t worry! You have options available for selling a car without a title. Just follow the suggestions laid out in this article to get that car sold and get some money in your pocket – even if you can’t find your car’s title.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the penalty for selling a car without a title?
It depends on your specific situation. There is no penalty at all in some cases, and the transaction is perfectly valid. In other cases, the sale of your vehicle might not be valid without a title. Your state laws, along with the age and condition of your vehicle, will determine whether or not the transaction is legal.
Is there a legal way to sell a car without a title?
Can you sell a car without a title? Yes, most states allow for the sale of older vehicles without a title. Some states also allow the sale of junk cars without a title. However, a few states require a title for all car sales. If your vehicle requires a title to be sold, there is really no way around that requirement. You should work with your DMV to obtain a replacement so that you can complete the sale.
Who needs a title to sell a car?
For newer vehicles, you almost always need a title. The title should be in the current owner’s name, and the current owner will need to sign the title over to the buyer as part of the sales transaction. This rule applies to both dealerships and private party sales.