Cash for Cars Without a Title: How to Get the Most Money

Car titles get misplaced all the time, but losing your title doesn’t mean you have to sell your car for scrap. You can replace your car title through your state’s motor vehicle bureau by proving your identity and ownership. We have all of the details of the process below, plus a few alternative ways to sell your titleless car. Even getting cash for cars without a title is possible.

How to Get a New Car Title

When you’ve lost the title to your car but want to sell the car, you can get a replacement title rather than trying to sell it without a title. With a replacement title, your car will be street legal and can be sold for its full value.

To get a new title, you’ll need to visit a DMV office or state licensing bureau near you. The process may vary somewhat by state, but is generally as follows:

  1. Complete a request form. Depending on your state, this may be called an Application for Certificate of Title, Request for Duplicate Certificate of Title Application, Application for Replacement Title, or similar. This form typically requires information like your car’s VIN number, license plate number, make, model, odometer reading, and year, as well as your personal information. It may need to be notarized.
  2. Prove your identity. You’ll need to show your driver’s license, a state-issued ID, a military ID, your passport, or another form of photo identification along with your completed title request form.
  3. Provide any other necessary documentation. Some states, such as New Mexico and Tennessee, may require additional documentation (including your vehicle registration, a lien notice, etc.) in order to issue a replacement title.
  4. Pay the title request fee. Fees vary by state. They can be anywhere from around $5 to $95, but are usually between $10 and $25, based on the data available at DMV.org.

Once you’ve proven your identity and ownership of the vehicle and submitted all necessary paperwork, you’ll be issued a duplicate title. Online and mail-in title requests may be available in your state.

Other Options for Selling a Car with No Title

If the title replacement process sounds daunting, know that it’s similar to the process you’d have to go through if you sold your car to a “cash for cars,” no-title buyer. The purpose of a car title is to prove ownership. Without a title, you have to find another way to prove ownership. The buyer can’t just take a car, no questions asked; Ownership must be proven before any money changes hands. Not even CarMax will buy a car without a title. CarMax doesn’t care about things like check engine lights or if it’s salvaged but it will not buy a car without proof of ownership.

Your other options are to sell the car for parts, sell it as scrap, or sell it as a race car. While these methods generally don’t require proof of ownership, there are downsides to each:

  • Parting out a car is time-consuming. Taking the car apart yourself requires special equipment and know-how, while the help of a professional mechanic can cost hundreds of dollars. Once the car is disassembled, you have to sell the parts individually, which can take months. (If you’re considering parting out your car, see our guide for advice on how to do it and where to sell your parts.)
  • If you sell the car as scrap, you can probably get a few hundred bucks out of it, but scrap metal prices have fallen in recent years. Getting a new title is worth the extra effort if it allows you to sell your car for a few thousand dollars rather than a few hundred.
  • To sell your car as a race car, it must be a model that can be modified for racing, so this isn’t an option for many prospective sellers. Additionally, you’ll be selling your car to a limited market of buyers — only those who race or collect sports cars.

In Summary

Getting a replacement title may not be the easiest option for dealing with your titleless car, but it is the best option. Other options, like parting out or scrapping a car, can be even more time-consuming, can limit the number of potential buyers for your car, and often bring in less money than selling your re-titled car at its full value. But if you want cash for cars without a title, there are ways.

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17 comments

  • rebecca corral says:

    I am trying to sell my dodge neon 2005 i do not have the title for it but i do have regerstration on it also it the car does run can you help me out here and see where i could sell it at.

  • I have a 1998 Acura 2.3cl drives good even though the transmission is slipping. I’ve called everywhere in Nashville to sell or scrap it and everyone told me that since I don’t have a title or bill of sale there’s nothing they can do. I got the car from someone on offer up as and now I clang get in touch with the previous owner. He’s not responding or anything what can I do to sell it?

    • Laura Bachmann says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi TaNisha,

      Here’s the page for replacing a lost title in Tennessee. Depending on what info you do have available on your car, you might be able to use this option to get a title. Scrapping it would be a good plan B to at least get something if you’re not able to replace the title, and if no scrap yard will take it either, you can try selling it for parts.

  • Darlene Rothemund says:

    How about i have two car that need alot of work one has a title loan which is no big deal but need to bet rid of them asap getting wrote up because they dont run can I sell them without a tile

    • Rebecca Turley says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Darlene,

      If you want to sell the cars to a junk yard, you won’t need a title to do so. It sounds like that’s the best route for you, considering they don’t run. Otherwise, selling a car to another party will require a title.

  • Hi. I have a Nissan Altima. The Altima been a very good car to me. Its still in good condition except needs a transmission i was told. I am not a mechanic but i feel like something else could be wrong. It is sitting at my apartments can’t move forward but can back up.

    I don’t have a title. I only owed $1000. I don’t pay any car payments anymore. I stop paying car payments long ago over few years now. The company i was paying to just left me alone because i was paying on the car a lil to long. How do a retreive a title?

    • Rebecca Turley says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi CT,

      You have to contact the lender to get the title. Expect them to require you to pay off the loan before they will hand over the title.

  • I essentially went to a title loan company and the title loan company sold me a car for $100.00. The title loan company gave me a paper showing I paid $100.00 for said vehicle. The title is in someone else’s name, actually my mother’s name, and the title company sold me the car because my mother didn’t pay the title company back for the loan she took out on the car. Actually, my mother passed away and I returned the car or information where the title company could pick up the car and the title company said they didn’t want it and asked me how much I could pay for the car. So, essentially, the title company sold me my mother car. The title company required the death certificate which I showed them and the title company sold me her car for $100.00. That means the title company sold me a car, my mother’s car, and the title company told me to go to the DMV and present my mother’s death certificate and the DMV would transfer the ownership of the vehicle into my name. The DMV said something about I would have to open a probate which my lawyer has instructed me to not do for legal reasons associated with my mother’s estate. I was told not to be a executor of her estate, do not open an estate or a probate in her belongings, to just walk away, leave all of her belongs except possessions.
    My point is this: The title company sold me my mother’s car after I presented them with her death certificate. I should be able to get a title for her car.

    • Hillary M. Miller says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi Bill,

      I’m sorry to hear about all the confusion you’ve had with the title to your mother’s car. That definitely does sound like an unusual situation; it’s hard to give any concrete advice without knowing the legal situation regarding your mother’s estate that led to your lawyer advising that course of action. I would recommend working with the lawyer directly to obtain the title of the car, as there are obviously more factors at play here than there would be in a standard transaction. Best of luck getting this issue resolved and please let me know if I can answer any further questions!

  • Eldora Crayton says:

    My son went to jail an he has a 2001 Ford Taurus it wasn’t running b4 he left but he needs money for bail plez my landlord is threatening to have it towed away I don’t have title or keys an I’m disabled there’s no way I could take it apart to scrap is there anyway I can get rid of it AND get some cash for it

  • Vincent morales says:

    I helped this guy out with a place to live so any how he gets busted for drugs now he’s behind bars for along time so here i am with his car on my property and i have dome one who wants to buy and i want nothing to do with the car but i have know kind of paper work. Thank you

  • George Kanouse says:

    I just sold someone a car without the title, it doesn’t run good, and it’s a 2001 grand Marquis. I had to get rid of it by today but I might be able to get the title still and give it to him. Should I just hand it over or ask for more money? Thank you

    • William Lipovsky says:
      First Quarter Finance logostaff

      Hi George,

      Tricky question. It sounds like the car was sold with the understanding that it doesn’t have a title. If that deal is done and you now realize you can get a title, probably ask for a few hundred dollars. Your time and effort is worth something. Also because having a title will make the car much more valuable so the owner should definitely be willing to pay more. Though you don’t want to ask for too much because no one else will want that title but the new owner. And it’s worth noting that unless there was a bill of sale signed, you are technically still the owner. If there are any other complications to mention, just leave another comment. Thanks!

  • jamesrod214 says:

    I figured that car titles get lost all of the time. So, that’s a good idea to make electronic backups of all paperwork and to store them in the cloud. I need to start doing that so I don’t lose my title. Although, I’m glad to see that you can get cash for your car without a title.