Everything You Need to Know About a Pre-Owned Car Title

When you purchase a new or used vehicle from a dealer or private party, one of the many documents you’re required to sign is a car title. In fact, a car title is one of the more significant documents you’ll receive.

In a nutshell, a car title is a legal document that establishes ownership of a vehicle. It serves as proof that you are the rightful owner of the vehicle and provides important information about the vehicle, such as the make, model, year and vehicle identification number (VIN).

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Receiving Your Pre-Owned Car Title

When you purchase a vehicle at Easterns, we will transfer the car title to your name. This process involves completing the necessary paperwork and paying any applicable fees, such as sales tax and registration fees.

The car title will have your name and address listed as the owner, along with information about any liens or loans on the vehicle if applicable. If you are financing your pre-owned vehicle, the lender will usually hold the title until the loan is fully paid off. Once the loan is paid in full, the lender will release the lien and transfer the title to you (usually by sending it to you via mail).

What Information Does a Car Title Include?

There are several pieces of important information on a car title, including:

Owners information:

The car title will have the current owner's information, including their name, address and sometimes their driver's license number (if the car belongs to a private party and not a dealership). This helps establish legal ownership of the vehicle.

Vehicle identification number (VIN):

The car title will include the unique VIN assigned to the vehicle. The VIN is a 17-digit alphanumeric code that provides specific details about the vehicle's make, model, year and manufacturing location. It serves as a way to identify the vehicle and ensure its accuracy in legal and registration processes.

Make, model and year:

The car title will state the make (brand), model and year of the vehicle. This information is crucial for accurately identifying the vehicle.

Title designation:

The title designation indicates the status of the title, such as whether it’s a "clean title" with no significant issues or a "salvage title" for a vehicle that has been declared a total loss by an insurance company due to damage.

Odometer reading:

The car title will include the recorded mileage of the vehicle at the time of transfer. This information is important for tracking the vehicle's usage and determining its value.

Lienholder information (if applicable):

If there is an outstanding loan or lien on the vehicle, the car title will indicate the name and contact information of the lienholder. This information is crucial for properly transferring ownership in case of a sale or paying off the loan.

Before You Complete Your Pre-Owned Car Purchase

Whether you’re purchasing a used vehicle from a dealership or a private party, be sure to ask to see the title to ensure the vehicle is legally owned by the seller and to verify important information.

Examples of information you should always verify include whether the vehicle has a clean title and whether the milage matches the odometer reading (any discrepancies can indicate tampering with the odometer, which is a significant red flag for car shoppers).

At Easterns Automotive, we ensure all the necessary information is accurately recorded on the title and provide you with the appropriate documentation to establish legal ownership and transfer the title when purchasing a vehicle from us.

What Are the Different Types of Car Titles?

There are several different types of car titles that you may come across when dealing with vehicle ownership. Here are some common types:

Clean title:

A clean title means the vehicle has no outstanding issues or significant damage. It signifies the vehicle has not been declared a total loss by an insurance company and does not have any major title defects. This is the ideal type of used car title, and you should be cautious purchasing vehicles that don’t have a clean title.

Salvage title:

A salvage title is given to a vehicle that has been significantly damaged, typically due to an accident, fire, flood or other events. When the cost of repairs exceeds a certain percentage of the vehicle's value, it may be deemed a total loss by an insurance company. Salvage titles can affect the vehicle's value and insurability.

Rebuilt title:

A rebuilt title is assigned to a vehicle that was previously given a salvage title but has undergone repairs and passed a safety inspection. This indicates that the vehicle has been rebuilt and restored to a roadworthy condition. You’ll want to thoroughly inspect and evaluate a vehicle with a rebuilt title before making a purchase.

Lemon law title:

Some states have lemon law buyback titles, which are are issued to vehicles that are returned to the dealer or manufacturer due to recurring or unresolved mechanical issues within a certain timeframe or number of repair attempts. Virginia and Maryland do have lemon laws to protect car shoppers and consumers, but the states don’t issue these lemon law buyback titles.

Duplicate title:

A duplicate title is issued when the original title has been lost, stolen or damaged. It serves as a replacement for the original title and provides the same legal proof of ownership.

Have Peace of Mind When Shopping at Easterns Automotive

At Easterns Automotive, we take pride in offering our customers a transparent and trustworthy car-buying experience. We ensure all our used cars come with clean titles, which our customers can review prior to making their purchase. We understand the importance of knowing the vehicle’s history and ensuring that it has not undergone significant damage or incurred any major title defects.

In addition to clean titles, we go the extra mile to ensure the quality of our used vehicles. Each vehicle undergoes a rigorous inspection process conducted by our trained technicians. This comprehensive inspection covers various aspects of the vehicle, including its mechanical components, electrical systems, interior, exterior and overall condition.

We want you to have peace of mind knowing that the vehicle you are purchasing meets our high standards for quality and reliability.

Find the Perfect Vehicle for You Today

Visit us at one of eight Maryland and Virginia locations to test drive the car (or cars) of your choice and experience the Easterns Automotive difference firsthand.