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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Visit DMV.org’s title replacement page and select your state to see location-specific options and instructions.
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, according to CarBrain. 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, according to Junk Car Medics. 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.
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.