How to Perform a Vehicle Title Search
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Why a Vehicle Title Search Is Important
Cars are a necessity for many people who commute for work or use their vehicle to take children to school, run essential errands and more. Having a vehicle also opens up a host of possibilities for social activities and general freedom of movement for everyone. Buying a new car can be costly though, and for some people, it’s either out of reach or simply not worth the extra expense. That’s when most people turn to the used car market. Performing a vehicle title search can help you learn about a vehicle to ensure that you’re making a smart buy when shopping. Use this guide to learn more about vehicle title searches and how you can perform one effectively. If you don’t get the vehicle history before you buy, you could end up spending your hard-earned money on a car that simply wasn’t worth it.
Why Run a Vehicle Title Search?
Running a vehicle title search can help you learn more about the history of a vehicle beyond what the owner has told you. While many sellers are completely on the up and up, some may be unscrupulous. Others may simply not know the full history of the vehicle because they were never given all of the information.
When you perform a vehicle title search, you’ll be able to find out if the vehicle has been involved in any minor or major collisions. This can impact the value of the car as well as the potential overall performance of the vehicle you’re looking at buying.
You’ll also learn whether the owner knows the true history of the car or if they’re trying to pull the wool over your eyes and get you to buy at a price that’s not truly fair.
How to Perform a Vehicle Title Search
1. Obtain a limited history report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
2. Get a free VIN check through The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB)
3. Third-party database sites that pull vehicle history data from national databases
What is Included in a Car Title Search
- Vehicle accident history
- Previous owners of the car
- Recalls related to the vehicle
- Flood damage
- Title checks
- History of airbag deployment
- Basic maintenance records
- Odometer issues
- Records of vandalism or theft
- Liens against the car
What to Do if There is a Lien on the Car
Checking to see if there’s a lien against a vehicle you want to buy is one of the main reasons to perform a car title search. If you do find that there’s a lien on the vehicle, you have a few options if you still want to buy it.
- Negotiate to pay the lien off when you buy the vehicle. This can typically be done in a safe way if the buyer and seller meet to pay off the lien in person before transferring the title. Negotiate the final sale price with what you’ll need to pay to have the lien removed in mind.
- Have the seller pay off the lien with a good faith agreement that you will buy the car after they provide proof that the vehicle is now lien-free.
- Use an escrow service that will hold the title to ensure that both parties do their part. This can protect a buyer who agrees to pay to have the lien removed.
Government Car Title Search
Most states do not offer complete title information even on vehicles that are registered within their jurisdiction. This information is simply too difficult to track for most states, so it’s left to other organizations.
Some states do offer registration abstracts though. These contain useful information like parking tickets that may be left on the car. Title registration abstracts can provide more information about the current owner and past owners of the vehicle.
How to Perform a Vehicle Title Search Online
3rd party vehicle title searches often provide the most information in an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand package. Many third-party title services charge a small fee for records, but this is often much cheaper than buying a car that’s not worth what you paid.
Sites like SearchQuarry.com are popular options for getting a VIN check. You can also obtain records this way quickly, which can be important if you’re looking to buy a used car that’s in high demand or for sale at a price that’s enticing to you as a buyer.
Getting a car title search can help you avoid buying a car that’s not worth your money. You may need to pay for a comprehensive search, but a few dollars for well-kept records can save you thousands in the long run.
Vehicle Title – Frequently Asked Questions
What to do if I lost my vehicle title?
If you lost your vehicle title you can get a duplicate title from the DMV. Download the form to request a duplicate vehicle title and bring it into a DMV office with your driver’s license. You will have to pay a nominal fee and the new vehicle title will be mailed to you in a few weeks.
Can I sell my vehicle without a title?
Yes, it is possible to sell a vehicle without a title. You will want to sign an affidavit that all the information is accurate on the vehicle you’re selling and also put into writing a bill of sale for the purchaser. It’s typically not best practice to sell aa vehicle without a title but it does happen and there is not always time to get a replacement vehicle title.
How to Find the Title Number on a Vehicle
Your vehicle title number is listed on the title of your vehicle as well as on your vehicle registration card. The title number is typically 8 digits and is usually located next to the other vehicle information on your registration, such as your VIN or license plate number.
Can I buy a vehicle without a title?
Yes, you can purchase a vehicle without a vehicle title. You will want to make sure you get a bill of sale and evidence that the vehicle is paid off before purchasing this vehicle or it will be difficult to obtain a duplicate title. It’s best practice to contact your local DMV directly before purchasing a used vehicle without a title before you complete the transaction.