Ownership What to Do If You Lose Your Car's Title

12:55  26 may  2017
12:55  26 may  2017 Source:   Road & Track

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What to Do If You Lose Your Car's Title© Getty What to Do If You Lose Your Car's Title

People lose stuff all the time, and from time to time people lose the titles to their cars. Getting a replacement Certificate of Title for a car already titled to you is pretty simple. But what happens if you lose the title you got from the seller–before you got it transferred into your own name? That's a bit trickier. I'll explain the various ways to resolve this. While I practice in Michigan, which is what I base this advice on, most states will have similar processes–give or take some bureaucracy–which you can learn about from your state's website.

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First, the easy one. If you lose the Certificate of Title to the car you own now–and it was titled to you–most states allow you to simply apply for a replacement title from your secretary of state or DMV. Show some documentation that the car is titled to you, pay a fee and you'll get the new title. It might be stamped with language indicating it is a replacement title but that's no big deal.

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You may be wondering what to do if you lost your car title , and are asking yourself “How do I get a new one.” If you live in the Tar Heel state, you ’ve come to the right place. Keep Reading.

Before your car has expired tags, you 'll need to complete your license plate sticker renewal. Share Tweet Pin It. If you ’ve lost your vehicle title or if it inadvertently got fed into the shredder, you need to order a duplicate title .

The trickier proposition is getting a title in your name when you lost the title the seller signed over to you when you bought the car. That certificate of title showed you as the buyer but now it's gone. And, of course, if you were planning on skipping the title and didn't have your name put on it, then you are in the same predicament. You have the car and no title. And there is no official record anywhere saying you are the car's true owner.

The obvious solution is to find the seller and ask them to order a replacement title and then ask them to sign it over to you when it arrives. This assumes you can find the seller and the seller will cooperate. Life doesn't always work that easily.

Here are three different methods to title the car in your name without the cooperation of the seller. Again, this is in Michigan, but should be largely applicable to your state.

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Everyone misplaces their car keys from time to time. But every once in a while, we actually lose them for good. Out-Of-State Title Transfer. Additional Resources. If someone can easily obtain a copy of your keys, they can easily steal your car , whatever is in your car , etc.

The first is to get a court order. Any court order that awards you the title to the car will work, as long as it includes the year, make and Vehicle Identification Number of the car you want titled. Of course, this means you'd have to go to court and litigate the issue and this will not be the first choice for many people. But, it does pop up from time to time, particularly with estates where car owners have died and the executor wants to dispose of the cars legally.

Barring litigation, the next route involves posting a surety bond. If you have a late model car that has some value, you can get a surety bond from an insurance or bonding company for twice the fair market value of your car. You will need to keep the bond in place for three years. Doing that, the state will issue you a Certificate of Title and, presumably, keep an eye out for someone to come forward and claim that your car is really theirs. In that case, the surety bond might get used to satisfy the claim of the true owner–if the true owner turns out to not be you. This is the state's way of seeing if you are really confident that the car is really yours. Of course, it will cost you some money to get that bond posted even if no one ever comes after it.

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You lose your car , but then again you don't need a car in jail anyway and that' s where you 're going. If the car is too cheap to make the cops any money at the auction, you 'll usually get it back Take the car to your local DMV and request a duplicate title . They will explain the process.

What To Do . A car title loan is a loan for a small amount of money and for a short time – usually 30 days. They can be very expensive. If you cannot pay back the lender, you might lose your car .

The last method is one which can be used for older cars of lesser value. It is known as the "Last Resort" method. Seriously: That's what the state calls it. Here, you "Self-Certify" that the car you have is really yours. Fill out the form TR-205 if your car is 10 years old or older, worth less than $2,500, was previously titled in Michigan and you are a Michigan resident. The form asks you to explain the circumstances of how you acquired the car and then asks you to confirm the car's low value. The state does not ask what you paid for the car. You can get the car appraised by a licensed dealer and present that as proof of the car's value. Or–and this is probably the easier route–you can use an online valuation service like KBB and simply print any page out which shows the car's value being below $2,500. The state even says that:

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If your car title is lost or damaged, find out how to replace it at our nationwide guide. Requirements for Replacing a Lost or Damaged Title . Using Power of Attorney to Obtain a Duplicate Title . Keeping Track of Your Vehicle Title and Other Paperwork.

In CA if you lose your title certificate you can fill out DMV form reg 227 and pay the .00 fee and they will process request. Take the car to your local DMV and request a duplicate title . They will explain the process.

On-line appraisal sites may provide multiple vehicle values (wholesale value, trade-in value, and retail value). Any of these values showing a value of $2,500 or less may be accepted.

So, shop around. Look at the values on several sites and find the one that lowballs you the worst. Don't be shy. Rough, Fair, Parts Car. Find one below 2,500? Print it out and you're good to go.

Again, the foregoing is how it is done in Michigan. I've heard of states where there are methods like these and some that have other methods – some easier and some harder. Check your state's DMV or Secretary of State website and hope they have one that works for you.

Steve Lehto is a writer and attorney from Michigan. He specializes in Lemon Law and frequently writes about cars and the law. His most recent books include Preston Tucker and His Battle to Build the Car of Tomorrow, and Dodge Daytona and Plymouth Superbird: Design, Development, Production and Competition. He also has a podcast where he talks about these things.

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