What if a Car Title Has the Wrong Name on It?

Mistakes happen daily, but when it comes to your car title, you don’t want to deal with writing the wrong name. No matter how hard you try and do it right, there’s still that possibility something will go wrong. Whether you didn’t sign the title right or the person you are selling to wrote the wrong name, there is a solution for it all. Here’s the rundown on how to deal with the wrong name on a car title.


Your Car Title is a Legal Document

Omissions or mistakes on your auto title can lead to severe consequences. That’s because the title is a legal document. Here are just a couple of the most common repercussions of having false information (like the wrong name) on your car title:

  • Your DMV transaction could get delayed or denied

  • Law enforcement or the DMV could investigate you to determine if you were attempting to do something illegal

Honestly, you don’t want to deal with either of these scenarios. It is far better to deal with the mistake right away and get it squared away than to try and proceed despite the error.

Here are some common solutions when you wrote the wrong name on a car title.

Correcting Your Mistakes

If an omission or mistake occurs when you fill out a car title, you must fix it right away. The sooner the problem is addressed, the more likely you will get it resolved without an issue.

If the error happens during a car sale, it will go much smoother if both parties participate in fixing the car title than trying to fix it alone later.

Draw the line

In most states, when an error is made, you can draw one line through the misspelling and insert the correction. Then, you will need to produce a notarized statement explaining the mistake. Of course, it’s best to first call your local DMV and confirm that they don’t have a special method in place for handling title errors.

NEVER use Wite-Out

We can’t stress enough the importance of staying far away from Wite-Out when it comes to your car title. There is no reason under the sun why you would ever want to put correction fluid on your title. In fact, trying to erase your error in any way is grounds for the title to become void.

If needed, replace the title

Here are a few of the most common solutions when dealing with title mistakes.

  • Acknowledge the mistake in writing, and submit that to the DMV

  • If necessary, the DMV may be required to issue a duplicate title

  • Have the person in question complete the new title correctly


Common Mistakes With Car Titles

It’s easy to assume this will never happen to you, so let’s pose a few situations you might find yourself in.

Problem #1: You made a mistake while you were filling out the title.

For whatever reason, you wrote the wrong name or signed in the wrong place. We understand! It happens all the time. People who change their name with marriage will often sign the wrong name out of habit without realizing that their maiden name was on the title.

This problem is easy to fix. Simply take the title to your DMV and explain what happened. They will often have you fill out a form, pay a fee, and take ownership of a brand-new corrected title that very day.

Problem #2: Your name isn’t found on the title.

This is a more serious concern. If you purchased a car but never transferred the title to your name, you’ve broken the law. Selling the car in this circumstance would be referred to as Title Jumping and it could have serious consequences in certain situations.

Yes, it’s possible that you got busy and didn’t mean to forget, but it’s still illegal. The best way to handle this is to get the title straightened out. Do not attempt to sell the car without your name on the title. Doing so could have legal consequences.


Problem #3: You want to purchase a car but another buyer already signed the title.

If you’re buying a car that already has a name written in the “buyer” section, you should not proceed with the sale. Fixing this problem is much harder after the fact. Ask the seller to contact the DMV to correct the issue.

The worst thing you could do in this situation is to wait until after the sale to fix it. What you want is the seller to correct the issue before you pay for the car. If you don’t notice it until after the sale is finalized, make sure you take your bill of sale to the DMV and hope for the best. There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to do anything without the cooperation of the seller.

At worst case, it’s still possible to get a legal title for that car, but you might need to purchase a surety bond to make it happen.

Problem #4: The seller’s name is incorrect.

If you’re buying a car and the seller isn’t the person on the title, you need to question why. You could be about to become a victim of a scam. Ask the seller to contact the local DMV to correct the issue.

In any case, it’s best to assume the worst if you want to protect yourself from scammers. If the seller’s name is not listed on the title, it’s likely that they are attempting to skip out on taxes or trying to get rid of a junk car without getting their name involved. At worst, they might be lying about their identity, trying to sell you a stolen car, or any number of other illegal activities.

To resolve this, you want to ask lots of questions. Find out why the title isn’t in their name and ask them if they are willing to set it right before the sale. If not, chances are you don’t want to get involved. If they are honest, there would be no reason for them to avoid getting the title in their name first. Then, you can move forward with purchasing the car the right way. If the seller ghosts you, there’s probably a good reason.


Be on guard and protect yourself.

In every transaction, you have the right to be on guard. This is the best way to protect yourself from being scammed. If you made a mistake, show the potential buyer that you are willing to make everything right and then follow through. After all, it’s what you would want someone to do if the roles were reversed.


Title Gods specializes in recovering lost car titles and solving all kinds of title-related issues. We are not attorneys. This article is not legal advice.

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