Thinking about selling your car? The title confirms the car’s ownership status, which makes it one of the most important documents in the entire transaction. Here’s a quick guide for any situation regarding a title you may encounter as you’re trying to sell your vehicle.
Selling a car without a title
When you take out a car loan, the bank owns the vehicle and the title until you’ve paid it off completely. If your bank owns your title, check with them to determine the process of transferring the title to the buyer.
Filing for a lost title
If you’ve lost your title and need a replacement, you’ll have to check with your state’s DMV, as rules and regulations vary from state to state.
Selling a car with an out-of-state title
If your car has an out-of-state title, you can sell the car with the existing title. Once you’ve sold the car, however, the buyer must get plates and transfer the title as soon as possible.
The buyer must submit a title transfer application. Then, depending on the state's requirements, you may have to provide an odometer reading, a vehicle identification number (VIN), and a bill of sale.
To prove the sale, you can provide a photocopy of the reassigned title, front and back. If you decide to handwrite or print a bill of sale from your computer, make sure you include the buyer’s contact information, VIN number, and the cash selling price.
Your state doesn’t issue a title
In very rare cases, states won’t issue titles for cars 25 years or older. (And in some states, the cutoff is 15 years or older.) If this applies to your situation, AutoTrader.com recommends writing out a clear, dated bill of sale that includes all the details of the car you're selling, including contact information and signatures for both the buyer and the seller.
You may also want to notarize the document for extra legitimacy. Finally, the buyer or seller may need to fill out additional forms or complete extra paperwork before the new state will issue a new title.