6 Things You Need to Know About Car Titles
When we think of titles, old England comes to mind—Lord, Lady, Duchess, and Duke. Perhaps you do address your car as Duchess, that’s up to you. Still, that isn’t exactly what it means when we talk about a car’s “title.” Here are six things to understand about a car’s title and what it means.

1. The Basics

The title is all the basic information needed about a vehicle. It includes the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), weight, make and model, license plate number, and the information for the owner and lien holder, if applicable. It is a one-stop shop to get a good idea about a car. It is also unique to the state where the car is owned. But, we will get to that later. Next, it is worth talking about the four different types of car titles.

a. Clean Title: A clean title means a car has not sustained any damages that would cause it to be declared a loss (totaled).
b. Clear Title: A clear title means there are no outstanding financial liens that would prevent it from being sold.
c. Branded/Salvage Title: A “branded title car” is an umbrella term that means a car has sustained enough damage to be “written off” or deemed to be totaled by an insurance company. These damages could stem from a wreck, fire, hail damage, etc. These cars can also be referred to as salvage title cars, and in most states, they are not legal to drive.
d. Restored/Rebuilt/Reconstructed Title: These different categories basically mean the same thing: a salvage title car has been rebuilt to make it roadworthy once again. Searching for rebuilt title cars for sale can be an excellent place to start searching for your next used car. These are cars that have been rebuilt and restored to a level where the title can be upgraded and insurance options open up. This can be a great bargain if you find a reputable place that does good work.

2. Titles Can be Tools

In your search for a used car, the title can be a great place to start. First, make sure that the seller has the title and that it matches the state where it is being sold. If they don’t have the title or it doesn’t match the state, those are major red flags. It might be wise to keep looking. Once you have the title, use it to do some digging. You can run a car history report using the VIN. This can tell you about past accidents or damage that can inform your decision.

3. Hold on to It:

Your car title isn’t exactly irreplaceable, but you want to keep track of it. It is not something you want to store in the glove compartment, but tuck it away somewhere safe in your home. If, however, the black hole attacks your home and swallows the title, no need to panic. Getting a replacement isn’t impossible; it just means a trip to the DMV. You will need to bring the basic information on your vehicle: Make, Model, Year, and VIN. The VIN can be found at the bottom of your windshield or on the inside of the driver’s side door. You’ll also need your driver’s license and bank information if you owe any money on the car. Then, of course, bring a wallet. There will be a fee.

4. Sometimes Someone Else Holds Onto the Title for You:

If you bought the car in cash, then the title will be in your hands immediately. However, if there was any financing necessary, the loaning bank, dealership, or agency will hold on to the title for you. They will send it to you when the debt is all paid. If you sell the car before the debt is paid off, then you will not be able to show the title to the buyer. This can get tricky, so make sure you have statements from the bank or lending agency that shows the debt and location of the title. Hopefully, you are selling the car for enough money to pay what you owe! Once you do that, the lenders will either send you the title or send it directly to the new owners. It is a bit more complicated, but not impossible.

5. New State=New Title:

The title needs to match the state where the car is driven. So, if you move, make sure you get a new title in your new state. Check in with the DMV in your state to make sure you have all the required paperwork to make the title transfer as smooth as possible.

6. Sell the Car, Transfer the Title:

If you sell your car, there is a space on the back of the title for you to transfer ownership. You will fill in names, addresses, price, and odometer readings. These are going to create the new official title, so try to print clearly! If possible, make a copy of the title to keep for your records, just in case there are questions down the road.

Titles can be one of those things that everyone uses but not everyone understands. That’s probably because people don’t deal with them on a daily basis. Rather, they come out at important times with the buying and selling of cars. It’s worth getting smart on them for those critical moments when you need them.


When we think of titles, the Lord, Lady, Duchess, and Duke titles of Old England come to mind, and you decide whether to refer to your car as Duchess. Here are six things to understand about a car’s title and what it entails, even if they aren’t exactly what we mean when we refer to a car’s “title.”

6 Things You Need to Know About Car Titles


6 Things You Need to Know About Car Titles