Ok the first question you have to ask yourself when you are considering buying any type of vehicle that needs to be registered with the State like a Car, Motorcycle or Boat without a title from the current owner is ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?
Once you have visited a doctor for a full psychological and mental evaluation and you still feel that you should buy this vehicle you have to understand what you are getting yourself into and how to go about the purchase to protect yourself.
Titles are the way that you prove ownership of most vehicles that are allowed to be used in public. If you are going to drive or resell the item you will eventually need to get a title and in some circumstances it is reasonable to buy a vehicle without a title.
If the previous owner died and the estate is handling the sale.
If they were victim of a natural disaster like a fire, flood or tornado.
If the state they lived in did not require a title on older cars.
If they moved recently or had the vehicle for many years and just lost the documents.
In all of those cases and probably many more you can find reasonable excuses for an owner to not have their title but you must ask the owner to apply for a copy of the title from the State. States will have this information on record and they can send out a duplicate certificate in just a few days. If the owner refuses to apply because of cost then have them sign a document and pay for the title yourself. Often you can drive to a local motor vehicles office and have the work done that day. If you are too far away there are title companies or even a local car dealer that can handle the paper work.
You should not take possession without a title because you can not own the vehicle without one. If you were to buy the vehicle and try to perform the work yourself you could find that the vehicle was stolen and it may have been stolen many owners ago in a state far away from where you are making the deal.
Bill Of Sale
OK so you ignored everything I said and you still bought the car. When you bought the car you should have got a noterized bill of sale from the owner. This document must be processed in front of a notary and they well verify the vin number on the car and that the person selling it is who they say they are. It does not mean the car is theirs or that the transaction is legal.
Now in most states you will need to go to the State Police and have them research the vehicle and do an inspection for any tampering of the VIN Vehicle Identification Number. This number is located on the drivers side dash and can be seen from outside the vehicle when you look through the windshield. The number is also located in up to 10 other areas of the car hidden on the frame, firewall and other places by the manufacturer.
If the inspection by the Police goes well they will approve a new title in your name.
This service is not free and often is only available a few times a month so you will need a reservation.
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT
Do not perform work on the vehicle no matter how small until you have a title in your hand. If you go ahead and fix the vehicle you will lose everything if it returns as stolen. Also you should not drive the vehicle because if you are in an accident on the way to the police inspection your insurance will not cover you. You might also end up in jail until you can prove you tried to make an honest purchase and have copies of the bill of sale from the prior owner.
Don’t take the risk. If the owner won’t go through a half hour of paper work to make the money on the sale then just don’t do it.
Always Call the Main State Title Office and review the steps you will need to take to get a new title even if the sale is an honest one.
You are liable to end up buying a vehicle that may be a son’s or daughters that went into the military or left for college and the parent just wants to get rid of the car. You might end up buying a car from a divorce that went bad. There are so many more reasons to not do this then there are to do it. And when the price looks too good to be real that is when you usually get screwed.
THIS IS ALSO TRUE FOR PARTS CARS
When you buy a car for parts you know you will strip it down and resell it or sell it to a junk yard. Well Junk Yards will not take the car without a title and if the car is stolen or has other problems and the cops find you with it you have a good chance of ending up in trouble either criminally or civilly.