You’ve got your car cleaned out and pictures for your listing, it’s ready to sell, but you’re missing something. Your title is nowhere to be found, but you really need to get your car sold and into your next vehicle.

If you’re wondering where to go from here (or why the title matters so much in the first place), don’t worry. While your title will be necessary for a majority of situations, there are a few exceptions to the rule. Additionally, obtaining a replacement title is much easier than most people think.

Car Title Not in Your Name? Here's How You Can Sell It

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Why Do Titles Matter?

can you sell your car without a title

The title of a car is a document that establishes who is the legal owner and user of a vehicle. Titles are necessary for the sale of a car to protect you as well as the buyer from a number of potentially risky legal situations. For instance, potential buyers have no way of verifying that the car they’re buying isn’t stolen if the title isn’t available.

Additionally, if you were to sell your car without transferring the title, anything that happens to the car remains your legal responsibility. If your car is deserted or stored somewhere after you’ve sold it, you may still be liable to any fees that accumulated in that time as well.

Having the title to your car gives you permission to sell it, and transferring the title ensures that the buyer assumes legal responsibility for it. It’s for this reason that you should be wary of any potential buyer that offers to buy without a title, as they may be attempting to scam you.


There are a few specific scenarios that would allow you to sell your car without a title. However, the absence of a title usually comes with some additional steps. Residents of California, for instance, are able to sell a car without a title as long as they can provide additional documents that they can obtain through their DMV.

Another key exception is for old vehicles. Many states will allow you to sell a car without a title if the car is old enough. The exact age your car has to be to qualify for this exemption varies state to state, but assume an average of 15 to 25 years. If you’ve got a vintage car sitting in your driveway, you’ll be able to sell it using a bill of sale in lieu of a title.

The only other instance in which you can sell a car without a title in your name is if you have the title, but it’s in the name of another person who is giving you permission to sell the car. This is most common for young adults selling vehicles they’ve received from their parents, but can apply elsewhere. All you’ll technically need in this case is the title with a signature from the individual named on it, but many buyers feel more comfortable provided additional evidence that you’ve received permission to sell the car to them.

Getting a Copy of Your Title

If none of these exceptions apply to you, you’ll absolutely be needing your title to sell your car (or truck). The good news is that receiving a copy of your title is much easier than it may seem. Most local DMVs are now equipped to make document requests or set appointments online, making the process more convenient for you.

You’ll need to submit an application to your DMV along with some documents, and wait an average of seven to 10 business days to receive your title. The documents you’ll most likely need to provide are:

  • A copy of your driver’s license.

  • A copy of your registration.

  • The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for the car you’re seeking the title for.

  • The car’s license plate number.

  • The car’s title number.

Your car’s VIN is a 17 digit number that can be found by looking through the driver’s side of your windshield. The title number is eight digits long, and can be found on your registration.

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Sell Your Car!

Now that you’ve gotten your copy of your title in the mail, you’ll be ready to sell your car. Your first step in this process will be getting an idea of how much your car is worth. If your car is still in good driving condition with no significant damage, you can use a reputable site such as Kelley Blue Book to find your car’s local market and trade-in values.

However, if you’re selling your car because you’ve been in an accident or the car needs excessive repairs, Kelley Blue Book won’t be able to help accurately determine your car’s value. Instead, you can check online auction sites to determine how much similar cars with similar damage are selling for.

Selling a damaged car traditionally has been stressful for many drivers who don’t know how to find a buyer for a car that doesn’t work. Now, it’s easier than ever to sell cars regardless of their condition. only needs photos of your car and your VIN to get you a free, guaranteed quote in 90 seconds. Our quotes are locked in for seven days, and we only work with certified buyers in your area. This ensures you get the best price, guaranteed, and that our service will always be safe.

Towing is always free and on your schedule. Once you’ve accepted your quote, just schedule your pickup. We can schedule your pickup within 24-48 hours. When your driver arrives, you’ll sign over your title and keys and receive your check!

Congratulations! You’ve replaced your lost title and sold your old car in under two weeks.


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