How Can You Sell a Junk Car Without a Title?

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

What's in this Article

Wondering how to sell a junk car without a title?

Typically, auto sellers are expected to provide the title to the buyer when transferring ownership. But, what if the owner doesn’t have a title to their car? Can you sell a car without a title? And who buys junk vehicles without a title?

In many states, selling a car to someone minus the title is illegal. It’s not uncommon for state laws to require you to have a title in order to operate a car on the road. But, in some instances, a title may not be necessary.

Although it’s not the norm, you may be able to sell your car without a title if certain circumstances apply. But, this can be a tricky situation. It’s important that the buyer and the seller are familiar with the specifics of a title-less transaction, prior to exchanging payment.

Read on to find out how to sell a car without a title!

How to Sell a Junk Car Without a Title (legally!)

Sometimes, the buyer isn’t expected to have a title-in-hand. Other times, the buyer may have lost or misplaced their title. Then, there are situations when it’s impossible to obtain a car title.

Let’s take a look at the reasons that a seller may not have a car title, and if there is anything that can be done to get a replacement in these cases.

The Bank or Lienholder Has the Title to the Car

If you have taken out a car loan and have not yet paid the payment due in full, then chances are the bank or lienholder will still have your car’s title.

This isn’t unusual in today’s automobile market. Due to the high costs of new vehicles, many people must take out car loans to pay for their car at the time of purchase.

According to a recent report by Kelley Blue Book, in January 2018, the average price of a “light vehicle” in the United States was over $36,000. Car sale prices had risen almost 4% from the prior year. With the rising prices reflected in recent data, it’s no wonder that many people choose to finance their new car purchases.

If you choose to purchase a new car with financing from a bank, or another source, they will usually hold the title until the final payment is made. So, if you decide to sell your car prior to the time when you make that final payment, you may not have the car title.

Tips for Selling a Car With a Lienholder

The solution in this situation is simple. First, you will need to contact your bank to get a payoff amount. If you are selling your car, you will probably want to do this before you begin showing it so that you will have an accurate idea of how to price it.

You want to be sure that the sale price of your car will cover the payoff for the loan.

Once you find a buyer, most banks will give you a ten-day grace period, during which they will not incur any additional finance charges.

The buyer will pay you the agreed-upon amount, and you will need to use the payment from the buyer to pay off your lienholder. If they pay in cash or with a personal check, you will most likely need to get a cashier’s check to pay your remaining balance.

After completing this process, you can sign the title of your car over to the new owner. If they have obtained a loan, then their lienholder will now take ownership of the title.

This is not the only example of when a car might be sold without a title. There are a couple of other circumstances that may apply to you.

What to Do If Your Title Is Lost, Stolen, or Misplaced

If you want to know how to sell a car without a title because yours has been lost or misplaced, or if your title has been stolen, we’ve got the solution for you.

In this situation, you will still need a car title to transfer ownership.

When you buy and register a car, the clerks will enter your information into a common database. This allows your car title and registration information to be stored, which means that it can be retrieved should you need to request a replacement title.

You can visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles to request a replacement title. Some areas have satellite tag and title offices, and some towns have their title department located in the local courthouse or city hall.

If you are aware of the lost or stolen title when you decide to sell your car, you may want to take care of this first. It can take time to process your request and get your replacement title to you. Although, some places offer an on-site title printing service for an additional fee.

It’s always preferable to have the title when you are showing your car to potential buyers. But, it may not be possible in your case and if so, you will need to explain your situation and work out an agreement with the buyer. Sometimes, a seller will allow the buyer to pay a small deposit, around $100 dollars, to hold the car until the title is received.

What to Expect When Requesting a Replacement Title

So can you sell a vehicle with a duplicate title? Yes, you can. But you have to take care of the paper work first before putting on a “for sale” sign.

When you request a replacement title, you will need to bring the original documents that you would bring if you were obtaining a new title for the first time. These may include your driver’s license, registration, and insurance card.

You will also have to pay a replacement fee. These vary, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $25 dollars for a replacement title. However, it’s always a good idea to call ahead and find out the exact amount because your state could charge more or less than the average, depending on where you live.

In recent years, many municipalities have made this service available online. And, as previously mentioned, some tag and title offices will offer same day delivery. You can check with the DMV to find out if either of these is available to you.

Once you have secured a replacement title, then you are good to go. You can sell your car just as if you had the original title.

If neither of the above situations applies to you, you may not have the same options as those listed above.

How to Sell a Car When There Is No Title Available

Did you purchase a car without a title? Or, does your car qualify as a “salvage title”, which means that it is no longer recognized as fit to drive on the road?

Often, people buy salvage vehicles with the intention of fixing them so that they are functional again. However, this can create a problem for the driver. It could also mean trouble for the owner when it comes time to sell the car because getting cash for junk vehicles without titles could be tricky.

No matter how much work that you put into a car, once it has been declared unfit to drive, you won’t be able to get a valid title for the car.

Cars that Have Been Totaled Won’t Have a Valid Title

These vehicles have usually been wrecked and totaled out. This means that the owner’s insurance company, or another driver’s insurance company, will usually pay the estimated value of the vehicle to the owner.

In exchange for the payment, the car is considered a “total loss”. When a car is totaled, it typically means that repairing the damages would cost more than the total value that the car is worth.

In this case, it does not make sense for the insurance company to pay for repairs, so they will pay the estimated worth at the time of the wreck instead.

Obstacles a Driver May Face When They Have a Salvage Title or None at All

It can also be difficult to find a mechanic to work on cars that have been totaled by the insurance company. Mechanics may assume that the car could be dangerous to drive, and they may not be comfortable risking responsibility if something should go wrong.

Even though it is not advisable to drive vehicles with a “salvage title” or with no title at all, some people do. When they decide they no longer want the car, they, too, will begin to ask how to sell a car without a title. Only, in this circumstance, the seller may need to be prepared to make some sacrifices in lieu of the missing title.

Even if You Cannot Obtain a Title It’s Possible to Sell Your Vehicle

If you should attempt to sell a car without a title, your options are likely to become more limited than other sellers who have a title available. Even if you do find a buyer for a car with no title, you risk the liability of selling an unsafe vehicle.

The good news is that if you do not have a way to obtain a valid title for your car, you still have options.

Luckily, car junkyards will often pay cash for cars without a title. The reason that they are willing to do this is not to make the car driveable again. Instead, they will sell the car or the car parts separately to customers.

Sometimes, when a car is broken or no longer running, the owner may sell their car to a junkyard as well.

There are also times when an owner might consider selling to a junkyard because they are unable to sell their car. This may be due to the car’s age, condition, or because of maintenance issues.

If a car is not maintained properly, it can be difficult to find a buyer, especially if the vehicle has sustained substantial damage.

Benefits of Selling Your Car to a Junkyard

A junkyard will take cars that other buyers refuse. Not only that, but you won’t have to worry about cleaning your car or fixing any needed repairs prior to selling. Junkyards will take most cars “as-is”.

Don’t worry. You will get paid for your car. However, you may not get the price that you would if you had a title and could sell to a different buyer.

Still, many owners who could not get rid of their cars otherwise, are just thankful that they can sell their broken, title-less, or out-of-commission automobile and get cash.

If someone wants to sell their car quickly, this may be the best option. Many times, the owner can drive, or tow, their car to a junkyard and leave with cash in hand.

Want to Sell Your Car Today?

If you’ve been asking how to sell a junk car without a title, this could be the answer. You could take your car to a junkyard today, and walk away with cash in less than an hour.

Most likely, you won’t have to deal with any major paperwork or hassles from the buyer. And, your car can be sold in no time.

Are you ready to sell your car without jumping through hoops? Want to know how much you can make selling your vehicle to a junkyard?

Get your free cash offer online to find out how much we’ll pay for your car right now!

Share this!


About the Author


Marc is the Co-Founder of Cash Auto Salvage and Director of daily operations. He retired from a leading Internet Marketing company in 2013 and has been involved in the automotive industry ever since.

maximize cash offer on car

We'll buy your vehicle!

Wait! We REALLY Want Your Vehicle!

We pay up to $20,000 for cars, trucks, & SUV’s – no matter the condition. Get paid on the spot + free towing!

Or Call... 1-855-922-3095

There is no obligation to accept an offer.

Unable to verify mileage

Selecting “unable to verify” may decrease your offer and should only be selected if you cannot visually confirm the mileage of the vehicle upon inspection of the odometer.