A car title, also known as a vehicle title or auto title, is the legal certification and documentation naming an individual or individuals as the owner of the vehicle. The car title contains various bits of information important to the registration of the vehicle. A car owner should understand the information on the car title, how to care for the title and how to transfer the title to ensure he is not jeopardizing his privacy and getting caught in a scam. A potential buyer should not feel ashamed to ask to view the car title before committing to a purchase.
Information on the Title
It is important to take care of the car title because it contains private information that you only want the Department of Motor Vehicles and the car's buyer to know. The car title contains the current owner's name and residential address, the vehicle's identification number (VIN), the date the car was sold and mileage on the date of sale.
Names and Addresses
If the car is owned by a business, the car title may include the name and the address of the business, rather than a residential address. Car titles may be placed in more than one person's name. Married couples or business partners may wish to place both names on the vehicle title. All-capital words AND, OR or AND/OR will be placed between the names on the title. If AND is used between the two or more names on the title, then all parties are required to sign the title when transferring the vehicle. If the word OR is used, any of the parties may sign individually.
Vehicle Identification Number
When purchasing a car, make sure the VIN listed on the title matches the VIN on the vehicle. The VIN can be found in the vehicle's doorjamb, engine compartment or on the dashboard. The VIN is the car's fingerprint, unique to each vehicle. You need the VIN to obtain a vehicle history report and to take out an insurance policy.
Mileage and Date of Sale
Including the date of sale and the mileage at the date of sale is important information on the car title that allows potential buyers to check for faulty odometers. Considering the passage of time between the transfer or sale of the vehicle, and the miles accumulated in that span of time, the potential buyers may evaluate for themselves whether or not they feel the odometer was tampered with. If an odometer reads less than what is listed on the title, this should be a red flag to potential buyers, and the seller should have proper documentation of reasonable replacement or reset of the odometer.
Social Security Numbers
A Social Security Number is no longer required on a car title. If a blank is left open for a Social Security Number, it should remain blank. This was changed to combat problems with identity theft.