How to Get Titles for Old Cars

By Paul Dohrman
A VIN, a car
car crash image by dawn from Fotolia.com

If you've misplaced your old car's title when you need to sell it, or if you need to know if a car you're buying has a salvage title or junk title on it, you can resolve both issues easily enough. If you're selling and the car has one of these brandings, also known as "damaged title," there are steps you can take to clear the title again.

Look through the lower right corner of the windshield to read off the 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number that's bolted to the dashboard.

Conduct an online check of the VIN (see Resources) for any outstanding liens, a salvage title or junk title. Insurers and law enforcement officials can brand a car a "salvage title" if it's considered a total loss, for example, after a wreck. A junk title is when a body shop or similar business reports to the DMV that the car has been dismantled or reassembled from different parts.

Pull up your local Dept. of Motor Vehicles site if you lost your title. Download an application for a replacement title. You'll need your VIN for this. You'll also need the signature of any lien holders, like the lender of your auto loan.

Deliver the application to the DMV in the manner instructed on the form. Some states allow online applications if there's no lien.

Eliminate a salvage title on a car you already own by providing documentation to the DMV that you've restored your car to roadworthy condition.

About the Author

Paul Dohrman's academic background is in physics and economics. He has professional experience as an educator, mortgage consultant, and casualty actuary. His interests include development economics, technology-based charities, and angel investing.