If you’re trying to sell car without a title – your pool of prospective buyers may be reduced significantly. Your average potential buyers become wary of purchasing a car without a title and as a result it may take longer to sell your vehicle. It is advisable that you get a replacement title at your local DMV or through our agency. However, there are situations where time is a limiting factor and waiting for a new title is NOT an option. Thankfully, the DMV allows for vehicles to be sold with a bill of sale (aka, without a title) so the short answer is YES – you can sell a car without a title.
Ordering a new title is fairly easy, and the processing time isn’t that bad – usually 2-3 weeks. However, if you have a prospective buyer ready to buy – the sale must be made now. I have a personal philosophy that if the money is on the table – GET IT NOW. So if the sale can be made without the title – get it done. A bill of sale, in many states, is considered a legal document, and with the proper information, such as the current owner’s name, vehicle identification number, license plate number, and new owner information, you should have no issues selling the car.
With the exception of vehicles that are 9 years old or newer, the DMV does not require a bill of sale to follow a specific format. A bill of sale can be typed up or handwritten, it can even be written on anything, one time we had a customer give us a bill of sale written on a piece of carton. You can download the REG 135 form or a pre-made bill of sale. For vehicles that are 9 years or newer, you must complete a REG 262 form (you can get one from a DMV field office or from one of our 2 locations). The following information must be completed on the form:
Have the vehicle identification number written out completely
Have the year, make, and model written on the bill of sale
Have the current car owners information filled out, including the address and driver’s license number
Have the new owner information filled out, including the address and driver’s license number.
Include the transfer ownership date
The sales price or value.
In cases where the odometer must be disclosed write the mileage of the vehicle (this is a federal law).
Although not necessary in California, getting the document notarized adds a little bit more security – it is an added “feature” against fraud and releasing you of liability.
Although not necessary, it is advisable to include “sold as-is” verbiage.
This should be self explanatory, however, we are going to mention it anyway: if you do not own the vehicle outright you cannot sell the car. If you owe money on the vehicle to a bank you cannot legally sell the vehicle. Attempting to circumvent this is a very bad idea and the new buyer you’re selling the car to will have to deal with this down the line. The lender holds the title – therefore, you are not allowed to sell the car.
Another scenario where you can’t sell a vehicle without a title is an abandoned vehicle title. You must conduct a lien sale to be able to legally sell the vehicle. Only until you complete a lien sale can you commence transferring ownership of a vehicle. Please click here to read about what a lien sale is and how to conduct one.
Additionally, if you have an out of state buyer, it is almost always a bad idea to sell a car without a title because most states local departments of motor vehicles will not accept a bill of sale as proof of ownership for vehicles that are coming into the state from another state (there are exceptions, like the state of Vermont). Click here to read how to order a replacement title.
Pro-tip: You may bypass requesting a duplicate title and simply transfer ownership to the out of state buyer, without having to wait for the duplicate title. They will receive their California car title in the mail.
Solution: You must order a duplicate title from the other state’s motor vehicles department. California, in most cases, and with very few exceptions, will NOT accept a bill of sale for a vehicle that is currently titled in another state. Avoid this situation. If the state you are purchasing the vehicle from does NOT issue titles for your particular vehicle you must get what is called a “title verification letter” so that the California DMV will accept a bill of sale in lieu of a title. Note: We can help you obtain this letter.
You must order a lien release or a lien satisfied from the bank, financial institution or lien holder that is listed on the vehicle title. A simple bill of sale will not suffice. If you are not the person that got the loan on the vehicle you are not very likely to get the lien release letter.
Under no circumstances can you sell a vehicle that has an electronic lien on it. A paper title must be issued by the legal owner
In this situation, you must obtain the title from the previous state dmv to be able to get a clear title from the California Department of Motor vehicles.
If you fall into any of the scenarios listed above you will not be able to sell your vehicle without a title. You must take some extra steps to resolve this. Fortunately for you, we have information for you to be able to obtain the solution.
In situations where you are unable to obtain a release from the lien holder because it went out of business, you must apply for a bonded title. A bonded title is an entirely different process – please click here to read about bonded titles.
The California DMV relaxes its rules on low value vehicle (usually older cars). Per the DMV manual a low value vehicle is anything below $5000 – anything above this value requires extra work to obtain a car’s title. Additionally, the signatures from the original owner are NOT required (as long as you submit the proper paperwork).
An untitled vehicle is a vehicle that has NEVER been titled, or, has fallen off the system from the DMV database because of no activity. So if a car has been sitting for years in someone’s yard, eventually what happens is that the vehicle falls off of the system. In cases like these you can, without any issue, sell the car with a bill of sale.
f you’re in a situation where you want to sell your car to a junkyard because your car is no longer in a roadworthy condition, they will most likely be asking you for proof of ownership. Please keep in mind that different junkyards will accept different forms of ownership. Some acceptable proof of ownership:
Some will accept a vehicle registration card
Some will accept salvage title
Some will accept a junk slip
Some will accept a bill of sale
The advice I give customers in a situation where the junkyard is refusing to buy their car without the title or a junk slip is to call around and look for a different salvage yard that has different requirements. Usually, these places will give you less money but will accept adequate proof of ownership and let you skip the need to having to pay for a new title for a junk car.