How to Tell If You Have a Clean Title on a Car

Save

In addition to being a legal document showing ownership of the car, the certificate of title may display other important details. Titles include information on lien holders, and may contain designations that describe events in which the vehicle suffered major damage. States maintain easily-accessible resources that can confirm that a title is clean, indicate any red flags, or reveal that a certificate has been forged.

Clean Title Basics

  • A clean certificate of title represents that the vehicle is fully paid and owned by the seller, listed by name on the document. A clean title also indicates that the vehicle has not been in a major accident, has not been written off by an insurer, and has not ever been stolen. If you are purchasing a used vehicle, having an accurate grasp of these details can help to make an informed decision. As a seller, having this information can facilitate a smooth sale. To check for a clean title, you can turn to three primary resources.

The National Motor Vehicle Title information System

  • Access the National Motor Vehicle Title information System through a state’s department of motor vehicles website, or through affiliate sites registered with NMVTIS. This service focuses on the reporting of information from five indicators -- the state and most recent title date, brand history, odometer readings, total loss reports, and salvage designations. With only five categories, the information on these reports is narrow compared to other services, but it offers a low cost option to search a vehicle’s history. Reports can be purchased for $4.95 from affiliates as of this publication.

CARFAX and AutoCheck

  • CARFAX and Autocheck reports offer all the information that NMVTIS does, but augment that base with numerous additional search categories. These include liens on the vehicle, returns based on Lemon Law rulings, and vehicle maintenance records. The authenticity of a physical certificate of title also can be confirmed by comparing the information on the document to the disclosures in the vehicle history reports provided by both services. A single CARFAX report costs $39.99, while AutoCheck charges $19.99 for a single title search.

Doing a Clean Title Search as a Seller

  • Getting a vehicle history report on a car being sold can provide value as well by updating vehicle information during the current period of ownership. If the title is branded with accident information, you may be able to detail the measures that were taken to repair the car with prospective buyers, such as paying for factory authorized work and using OEM replacement parts. If the history shows a clean title, you can use the report as a selling tool to assure potential buyers that there are no hidden problems.

References

  • Photo Credit Barry Austin Photography/Photodisc/Getty Images
Promoted By Zergnet

Comments

You May Also Like

  • Define Clean Title History for a Car

    In the sale of a vehicle, a transfer of title changes legal ownership from the seller to the buyer. Titles, which are...

  • How to Check for Car Liens

    Buying a used car carries a variety of risks, especially when the transaction is being done with a private seller. In these...

  • How to Check a Car Title History

    The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System, a federally-operated organization and website, retains a wide array of information on nearly all vehicles...

  • How to Check for a Salvage Title

    Check the VIN of any used car you’re considering to make sure it doesn't have a salvage brand. A common warning sign...

  • How to Check for a Clear Motorcycle Title

    Before you purchase a new-to-you motorcycle, checking the title history of the bike is a good idea. The title of your potential...

  • How to Clear an Auto Title

    A clear auto title results from paying lienholders in full, having the liens released, and getting the state DMV or similar agency...

Related Searches

Check It Out

How To Travel For Free With Reward Points

M
Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!