Instant VIN Lookup
If you have ever owned, bought, or sold a vehicle, you know what a car title is. However, this tiny piece of paper is more valuable than you might think, especially if it’s clean and un-branded.
The actual name for a vehicle’s title is a “certificate of title.” It is a legal document that contains information about the car or truck along with the VIN number and proves ownership of the vehicle. Typically, a car title is issued by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This official document shows ownership, but you can also trace back the entire history of the vehicle to find out who owned it and when. A car title has a lot of information on it.
A vehicle’s title has the owner’s name and address. Additionally, it contains the car’s year, make, model, and the date it was initially sold. If the person who owns it took out a loan, the lienholder information would also show on the car title. The title is usually issued after registration, so it may also include the license plate number. Some other information on the car title is about the mechanical details such as engine type, trim level, and also the price when purchased new. The odometer reading at the time you purchased the vehicle will also be on there and the vehicle weight class.
One essential piece of information on the car title is the vehicle identifier (VIN number), which follows the car throughout its life and is used when registering, insuring, and performing a vehicle history report check online.
Depending on the state, a car title may look different. But typically, a car title looks like a certificate, printed on special paper. Another term for a car title is “pink slip” because they used to be pink, but most are not anymore. The slang term comes from the 1950s when young people would race cars for “pinks,” which meant car titles.
All brand-new cars are issued “clean” titles meaning they haven’t suffered any major event. If, however, the vehicle is in a severe accident, is flooded, involved in a fire, or other event that damages the car, the state’s DMV may issue it a branded title. Some types of branded car titles are:
There are a few different places where you can perform a car title search. First, you can visit the DMV and provide the VIN number to see copies of every title the car has been issued. Another way is to use DMV online search tools or other third-party websites where you can find out a lot about the vehicle. By entering the VIN in a search tool, you can generally see the car or truck’s make, model, year, manufacturer, drivetrain, engine type, transmission type, braking system, along with any branded title issues, accidents and repairs, flood damage, fire and other events that are connected to that car’s VIN.
If you lose the title to your car, you should replace it as quickly as possible. It is a valuable piece of paper proving ownership and other details about your vehicle. If you need to sell it quickly, you must have a copy of the title.
Most DMVs now have electronic systems and online services. In many states, you may be able to enter some information and order a copy of your car title online. In other cases, you may have to visit the DMV office in person and provide proper ID and other documentation before they will issue you a new copy. You must also fill out an application when replacing a lost or stolen vehicle title.
If you borrow money to purchase your car, the lender will keep the title until you have completely paid it off. After that, you will receive the title in the mail from the lender and paperwork showing you paid off the car and now own it outright.
When you buy a car or sell one, the title must be transferred. If you own a car and sell it to someone, you must fill out the back of the title and sign it over to the new owner. They must also fill in their name and address and sign it. When they go to register the vehicle, the DMV will take that copy and issue them a new title with their information printed on it and record the sale for the history of the car.
When you buy a new car from a dealer, they too will sign over/transfer the title to you. They are the original owner and will need to transfer it to you by filling out their information on the back, along with yours. When you take that piece of paper to the DMV office, they will either issue you a new title or send one to the lender you borrowed money from to buy the car.