Image Source: AutoCreditExpense

Buying a used car is one of the least expensive ways to get a new one. However, there are a lot of different problems that could happen after you buy a used car. Paperwork errors are a regular source of additional stress and cost. Hence, obtaining a title is crucial when purchasing a used car. You can ask the seller to replace the title before proceeding if you believe there is a valid reason for the seller not to have the title, such as it having been recently lost or stolen. It may be prohibited in your state, and you may have trouble registering as the owner or transferring the title if the seller does not hold the title. Buying a car without a title is unusual. However, before deciding on buying a car without a title in Texas or California, it is important to learn about the process. 

What is a Car Title?

A car title is a legal document that details the vehicle’s history and ownership, as well as the owner’s name, address, and phone number. It will be necessary to present the title as proof of ownership when applying for services like registration and insurance. When you purchase a vehicle, the title must be changed into your name so that all regulatory agencies, including the department of motor vehicles and the police, are aware of your ownership of the vehicle.

In addition, if there is a lien on the vehicle, the title will indicate that as well. It’s possible for a lender or an unpaid mechanic to lay a claim to a stake in the vehicle in this way. So, if you’re buying a used car and want to make sure you’re the first and only owner, knowing all this is essential.

Can You Buy a Car Without a Title?

Generally, there is a lot of useful information on a car’s title. This could include the owner’s name and address, the car’s make and model, the VIN, the mileage, as well as any liens that have been placed on the vehicle. Even if the vendor doesn’t have the title, you can still make the purchase. However, you will need the title in order to legally register the vehicle, affix a license plate, insure it, and drive it on public streets. It is customarily the duty of the seller to acquire a title or other legally acceptable equivalent, such as a bill of sale for older vehicles.

In the majority of jurisdictions, buying or selling a car without a title is unlawful. Even though you won’t likely suffer serious repercussions, you’ll nevertheless confront a number of obstacles.

If you don’t have the title to your car, you can’t lawfully register it, receive license plates, or get insurance.

A vehicle without a title may also have a shady past:

  • The vehicle can be stolen.
  • The seller can be title-jumping, which means they’re attempting to avoid paying sales taxes because their name isn’t on the title.
  • It might be a ruse.
  • The vehicle can be a lemon.
  • The vehicle can suffer water damage and be labeled a flood automobile.

In addition, you cannot obtain a conventional auto loan without a title. Instead, you’ll have to get a personal loan, which can be expensive.

However, buying a car from a vendor without a title is an option that, in some circumstances, may be completely reasonable. Regardless, it’s best to proceed cautiously with the process.

Buying a Car Without a Title

It may be worthwhile to try buying a used car without a title, whether in Texas or California if you locate one that is ideal for your needs and offers an incredible price. Although, you should make every effort to safeguard yourself. In this regard, here are a number of measures you can take to safeguard yourself and the vehicle;

#1. Have the Vehicle Inspected

If the car you wish to buy doesn’t have a title, having it examined is your best bet. The frame and other structural components of the vehicle can be inspected by a skilled mechanic. This will generally let you know if the vehicle is in decent shape or if it may have a “salvage” title.

Additionally, a mechanic will inform you of any problems outside of those that would impact the title. Doing so is prudent before purchasing any used vehicle. You might not know how good of shape it’s in from a quick glance or test drive, so an inspection is essential.

#2. Identify the Former Owner

Generally, the only place to buy a car without the title in several jurisdictions is through a licensed dealer. If this is the case with your purchase, you can inquire about the prior owner’s contact details from the dealer. When they sold the automobile to the dealership and when you contacted them, they might have discovered a copy of the title.

On the other hand, this could be trickier if you’re buying the car from an individual. To find out if your local DMV can provide you with the contact details of the former title holder, you may try running the VIN by them. However, the DMV will not contact the owner unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as if the vehicle has been involved in an accident or has a history of known problems.

#3. Identify any potential liens

Make sure you are the only person who can legally drive away in the car you buy. Liens on a vehicle’s title can indicate that the seller is still making payments on the vehicle to a lender or owes money to a repair shop. Possibly this is why they don’t want you to see it before you buy it.

So, check the vehicle identification number (VIN) at the DMV or order a vehicle history report from CARFAX or AutoCheck. In almost all cases, this will identify any lienholders on the vehicle. It might not be worthwhile to purchase if you won’t the sole legal owner.

#4. Buy a Surety Bond Document Title

Without the title, you can still register the car in your name with a surety bond. So, when you buy a car, it’s important to have these bonds in place to protect you from having to pay legal fees if someone else claims possession of the vehicle later on. Even if you can’t find the title or don’t have time to procure a new one, you might be able to register the vehicle with one of these bonds in some states.

However, bonded titles have the major drawback of being quite expensive. They generally have to pay out 1.5 to 2 times the vehicle’s worth, which can cancel out any profit you might have made. Most of the time, it will be in your best interest to look for a different vehicle where the seller has the title in hand.

#5. Inquire at the National Insurance Crime Bureau

You should check the vehicle identification number (VIN) against the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s database before you buy a used car. In addition, you can find out from the NICB if the vehicle has been used in any schemes or crimes. You will also be able to find out if any legal action is pending against the present owner. If you aren’t sure of the car’s title history, this will be a great help.

#6. Prepare a Bill of Sale

If you’re purchasing a car without the title, make sure you get a bill of sale. You’ll want to include the vehicle identification number (VIN), mileage, and both parties’ contact information in this paperwork. If problems arise when seeking to obtain a new title, having this proof of sale will be extremely helpful.

How Do You Get a Title for a Car that Has No Title in Virginia?

  • Bring to the local customer service office, your current registration card as well as your ID card or driver’s license.
  • Fill out either an “Application for Replacement and Substitute Titles” or an “Application for Transfer and Supplemental Liens (VSA 66)” (VSA 67). However, only one owner needs to apply for the new title if there are numerous owners.
  • The VSA 66 may be completed and signed on behalf of the vehicle owner if there is no longer a living legal heir, executor, or administrator of the estate. Along with a list of some other documents, you must also present the death certificate that has been certified or notarized.
  • A signed “Authority to Transfer Virginia Title Certification” and a copy of the will (VSA 24)
  • A certified copy of the will that designates the executor or administrator OR a court-issued document
  • In the absence of a will and the appointment of an executor or administrator, a VSA 24 is completed as proof of legal heirship.
  • An affidavit stating that the estate of the deceased qualifies as a small estate under the laws (currently, the estate must be valued at less than $50,000).
  • If you are a joint owner with the right of survivorship and your co-owner has passed away, you can however apply directly for a substitute title to have the name of the deceased owner removed.
  • Pay the title replacement cost.

Can You Register a Car Without a Title in Utah?

It is not necessary to obtain the certificate of title from an out-of-state leasing firm or lien holder in order to transfer your vehicle registration to Utah if you have recently relocated there.

Can You Register a Car Without a Title in SC?

Depending on the year of the car and the year the other state began issuing vehicle titles, the SCDMV will register your out-of-state vehicle without a title. However, You will require the Bill of Sale in this situation. Your Bill of Sale is generally available for pickup at any SCDMV office or can be mailed to you. It must be a unique work.

Can You Register a Car Without a Title in Washington?

Basically, you can request a three-year registration without a title from DOL. If no one disputes the ownership of the car after three years, this changes to full ownership (giving you the title). In addition, a three-year bond can be submitted to DOL in order to obtain a bonded title.

Can You Register a Car With a Bill of Sale and No Title in Washington?

After a car is purchased and sold, Washington generally requires a bill of sale to transfer the title and register the vehicle. You can basically use the form that the state offers, or make your own. On the other hand, it is not necessary to have the form notarized.

Is it Illegal to Sell a Car Without a Title in Washington?

In Washington, you can not sell a car without a title. To sell a car in Washington, you basically need a title. The Department of Licensing can issue you a new title if your old one is lost.

Can I Take Ownership of an Abandoned Vehicle?

You can claim ownership of an abandoned car if it is discovered on your land. However, each state has different laws regarding the reuse of abandoned vehicles. So verify with your state’s DMV. Besides, knowing your rights is crucial if you want to obtain title to an abandoned car.

Can You Sell a Car Without a Title?

If you can prove your ownership, you definitely can sell a car without a title. However, most states forbid selling a car without ownership documentation. Having said that, it’s not unusual to find out that you don’t have the title to your car.


A car title is a piece of paper that proves its ownership. Generally, it’s against the law in many states to sell a car without a title showing who the owner is, and it’s unsafe to acquire one without a title. Buying a car without a title, whether in Texas or California, puts you in danger of having the previous owner try to reclaim it. Plus, if you want to transfer legal ownership to your name or get a car loan, you’ll need the title.

However, it’s possible to buy a car without the title, but doing so requires a great deal of prudence. This process includes looking up the car’s history, talking to the seller, obtaining a bill of sale, (perhaps) obtaining a lost title bond, and registering the vehicle under your name.

Buying a Car Without a Title FAQs

What are the reasons why a car would not have a title?

  • Title Jumping
  • Its been misplaced
  • Their car has been stolen 
  • Already, the car title issues

How can I get a title?

If you have lost or damaged your vehicle’s title, you will need to follow the steps outlined by your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles in order to get a new one.

A bonded title, also called a surety bond, is issued by the state in the event that the vehicle was either never titled or never titled in that state, or if there is some other problem. This needs further verification of ownership of a vehicle without a title and the vehicle’s value.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like