These are the 8 Most Common Title Issues We've Ever Seen

Transferring a car title isn’t meant to be a difficult process, but for many people, the transaction doesn’t always go as planned. Whether you need to change the name on your title or you find a mistake, we’ve got the solutions to the most common title issues we’ve encountered over several decades of combined titling experience.

Let’s look at the 8 Most Popular Title Issues and some tips on how to resolve them.

1. Can You Cross Out a Mistake on a Car Title?

One of the top questions we come across is how to deal with mistakes on a car title. Trying to erase something on your title or using Wite-out automatically voids your certificate. If you do either of these, you have to obtain a duplicate title.

Luckily, you can easily fix this yourself. Learn how to fix errors on a car title by reading our handy guide.

When you submit for a new title, you’ll want to make sure that you enclose the incorrect one with your documentation.

2. What if You Damaged Your Car Title?

It’s always possible to void your car title as a result of a simple accident. When you go to sell your vehicle, you cannot turn over a damaged title. You want a flawless certificate so the transaction goes as smoothly as possible.

The best thing you can do is fix the problem before selling. Apply for a duplicate title before attempting to sell, and refer to our handy guide for more information on that process.

3. What if the Wrong Buyer Signs Your Title?

When you go to sell a vehicle, there are any number of reasons that someone might back out at the last minute. It’s possible that you all signed the title and were ready to transfer it when everything fell apart. Now, you are left with a title that has someone’s name on it.

In this case, you must go to your local DMV and register for a new title. Of course, you’ll have to fill out the appropriate paperwork and pay the fees, but you won’t be able to sell the car until that happens. We went into more detail about this situation in a previous post.

4. What if You Never Transferred the Title Into Your Name?

First, we are going to say tsk tsk! Not only is this a bad practice to get into, but it’s illegal. Title Jumping might seem like it’s not a big deal, but there are many consequences to it that you don’t want to face.

As soon as you realize your name is not on the title, you need to have it corrected. Do yourself and the next person buying the car a favor and take care of this before attempting to sell. Read the article linked above to learn more; its a process you can easily do yourself without any help.

Another note: If you are planning to buy a vehicle and notice the seller’s name isn’t right on the title, you need to walk away. You should be prepared to deal with a scammer and this should serve as a big red flag. If you are determined to purchase the car anyway, have the seller get a new car title in their name before proceeding.

5. Can I Use White-Out on a Car Title?

No! Never use Wite-out on your car title. That will void it instantly!

In general terms, to correct written errors on a title you want to draw a line through what’s incorrect and write in the correct information. You should then produce a short statement explaining the reason behind the correction, have it notarized, and give it to the DMV along with the title in question so they can produce an accurate title.

Take your title to the DMV and fill out any paperwork they give you for a duplicate title. They will take the incorrect car title from you and issue a new one. Worst case, they will ask you to start over with a fresh title and will explain how to replace the current one.

6. How Do You Correct the Mileage on a Title?

If the error was made by the DMV, simply head back to the office and have them issue another title. If, however, the issue occurred when you purchased the vehicle, then the seller will need to fill out an amended odometer statement.

7. What if You Lost Your Car Title?

This is one of the most common title issues, so don’t feel bad if it happens to you. Thankfully, it is a simple fix that only requires you to register for a new one with your local DMV.

To learn more, read our handy guide on replacing a car title you lost.

8. Does a Duplicate Title Void the Original Title?

Yes! Once you receive your duplicate title, your original title is now void. Whether that title was stolen, destroyed or lost, you won’t be able to use the original title again. Your duplicate title is clearly marked so the DMV knows it’s not the original.

Trust me when I tell you that it’s always best to destroy the original title if it’s found later. You don’t want to deal with the headaches I did after buying a car that had a duplicate title. Had the seller given me the duplicate title, everything would have been just fine, but he didn’t. Instead, I was left to purchase a bonded title. Check out my story and learn more about bonded titles here:

Most Common Title Issues When Selling or Buying

In addition to the concerns listed above, there are some other common mistakes that occur during the transferring process.

1. The buyer or seller puts their name in the wrong section.

This occurs more often than you would think and requires a new title be issued.

2. Someone forgets to sign their name at all.

Have you ever sold your vehicle and forgot to sign the title? It happens more often than you would think. If you are buying a car and the seller didn’t sign, you need to get that done before you can transfer the title. Contact the seller and try to get their signature. If that doesn’t work and you don’t have a bill of sale or some other proof that you bought the car, consider talking to an attorney.

3. The seller forgets to label themselves the lienholder.

This often happens when the seller finances the purchase. It’s also possible for either the seller or buyer to record information in the lien section by mistake. Either way, the DMV can correct the problem for you.

Best Practices When Dealing with a Car Title

There are some steps you can follow regarding your car title that will further protect you. First, make sure you store your title in a safe place. It should never be left in your car. We always recommend a fireproof, waterproof security box for protection.

If you are purchasing a vehicle, make sure you check the VIN. This will tell you the owner’s name, verify it’s not stolen and let you know if there are any liens or previous damage you should know about.

When selling or buying your vehicle, make sure you fill out everything carefully. You want to use blue or black ink and ensure that all the information gets placed in the appropriate spots.

Final Thoughts

Do you have any experience with these common title issues? If you’ve made mistakes with your title, we would love to hear about it. Tell us what went wrong and how you corrected it so everyone can learn from your experience.

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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