At CarTitles.com, we always use 100% researched and legal methods to get your replacement title. Companies using methods that they may or may not be aware are illegal will end up getting you into trouble. Here’s an example of why it’s important to trust our expertise and experience:
Recently, we have been made aware that the “mechanics lien” process is being offered as a solution to vehicle owners who have titling problems. While there are legitimate processes available for vehicle owners to recover titles, the mechanics lien process is not intended to obtain a title for a person in possession of a vehicle with no title.
Misuse of the process can subject the applicant to criminal and civil liability, and may subject the title to being revoked. In most jurisdictions, the “mechanics lien” process goes something like this:
A repair facility works on a vehicle for an owner.
The cost for the repairs are not paid by the owner.
The facility holds the vehicle for 30 to 60 days.
The facility is required to send certified mail to all owners and lienholder on the vehicle.
The facility is required to advertise a notice of public auction in local newspapers.
The facility conducts a PUBLIC AUCTION offering the car for sale to the HIGHEST BIDDER.
The facility submits official notarized paperwork with a sworn signature that all of these conditions were met.
A copy of a signed repair bill is attached to the title application.
The facility receives a title in the name of the auction buyer, to transfer to that person.
In situations where a mechanic or towing company uses this process to get a title for a person who does not have legal documents, many of these conditions are not being met. First of all, there is no actual repair charges for the car since it was never in the shop for work. In addition, there is no offering to the public to bid on the car. The process bypasses the auction and it is “sold” directly to the person who already “owns” it.
Government and state DMV’s are aware that this process is ripe for abuse, and even fraud. The repair affidavits and garages and tow firms are regularly audited when they send in multiple title applications. If the paperwork is found to be fraudulent, the applicant can run into issues.
Urgent: Police departments nationwide are aware of this scam. Many people have been arrested and convicted for using “mechanics liens” to get car titles. We recommend staying FAR AWAY from this process. Do it right the first time and you’ll be able to maintain clear title to your vehicle.
States take giving away a vehicle title very seriously. A clean title is what ensures the owner of a vehicle that their possession is legal and will not be challenged later. Using a legal process to recover a missing title is the only way not to worry about liability or risk.
Get more information regarding the mechanics lien scam by watching our free videos!
If you have any question whether we can obtain a replacement title for you, contact us at 866-56-TITLE (866-568-4853) for a free review of your specific case. We have experience with all the following situations, and more.
Abandoned: If the vehicle is abandoned by the owner the title can be obtained for the new owner.
Impounded: If your vehicle is impounded and you need the car title to release the vehicle, contact us as soon as possible since your vehicle may be accruing storage fees. If you are purchasing an impounded vehicle contact us to find out what specific paperwork you will need to get from the seller.
Unclaimed: If a person left a vehicle with you or on your property for an extended period of time, you may want to get the car title to own the vehicle or to get the car off of your property. Contact us with the VIN# to determine the best vehicle title recovery process.
Deceased: If you have a vehicle which was last titled in the name of a person who has died, you may have found it difficult to get a title. Contact us with the VIN# and the name of the person (if known) to get the title recovered.
Auction: If you purchased a vehicle from auction, or from an auction broker you may not have received a title. We work on auction titles for Copart, Manheim, America, IAA, and many others. If you have the auction lane sheet that is helpful, but not required.
Lost titles: When you call in, specify if the vehicle is currently titled in your name and you lost your car title document, or if the vehicle still needs to be transferred into your name.
Duplicate title / replacement title: This is the easiest form of car title recovery. If you just need a copy of the existing title you may be able to do this yourself at no cost, or for a small amount such as $10.
Vehicle types: We can get you a title for any type of vehicle or equipment. We cover all cars and trucks from 1905 – 2017 model years, from all manufacturers in the US and import.
Motorcycles: Titles are obtained for road registered motorcycles, as well as off-road bikes, dirt bikes, dual sport and racing bikes.
Boats: Boats and watercraft titles are obtained using the hull identification number, which is equivalent to the VIN# on a vehicle.
Kit cars: Kit car titles are issued titles based on the newly issued VIN# of that specific constructed vehicle.
Trailers: Trailers and camper have a VIN# which can normally be located on the curb side frame rail of the tongue, just aft of the hitch mount. In some cases it is on the door frame of the camper entry.
Commercial equipment such as loaders, forklifts, tractors, and construction equipment titles are often needed for financing and sales to third parties. Titles for equipment is handled by our commercial division.
For a licensed repair facility or towing company which has legitimately taken possession voluntarily or legally, there is a process for the company to obtain a title for the purpose of disposing of the vehicle.
The process involves 4 steps:
1. Present a valid automotive business license along with a repair order signed by the vehicle owner, or legal towing affidavit.
2. Attempt to contact the prior owner and any lienholder by certified mail for a period of 30 – 90 days.
3. Advertise and publicize for 4 consecutive weeks in the legal newspaper a notice of public auction to be held on a certain date. The auction must be held during normal business hours and allow the general public to bid.
4. Conduct a legal auction and sell the vehicle to the highest bidder.
When all of these steps are followed, the licensed automotive facility can submit proof of these steps to the DMV for a title to be issued to the buyer.
This process is intended to allow a repair facility to dispose of a vehicle and offset their costs. It is not intended to process titles for non-documented owners or for the garage to take ownership themself (unless they are the highest bidder).
Attempts to use the mechanics lien process to get a title for a person who has no paperwork could be a criminal violation, and subject the vehicle owner to penalties and revocation of title.
The mechanics lien process is also not the correct title process for an abandoned vehicle, unless the vehicle is abandoned at a licensed automotive repair facility.
There are several different title types. We will give a brief description of the various types here.
Certificate of origin – This is the first title document issued by the vehicle manufacturer to the franchised dealer where the vehicle was delivered to. This document is used to transfer the vehicle to the first owner, and obtain title.
Manufacturer’s statement of origin – This is similar to a certificate of origin used by some vehicle manufacturers import or domestic.
Clear title – When a title is issued to an owner with no lien specified the title is clear.
Salvage title – When a vehicle incurs some type of loss event such as major damage, theft, or repair, the title may be designated as a salvage title. The decision to place a title in salvage status is normally made by the insurance company who pays a claim on the vehicle. In some states there are statutory regulations which require an insurer to brand a vehicle with a salvage title. An example may be that a vehicle incurred damage more than 60% of its value. However, an insurance company can decide to place a salvage title brand on any vehicle it decides to, even if there is little or no damage. A salvage title, junk title, rebuilt title, or certificate of destruction are almost always permanent brands on the title which cannot be removed. In rare cases a very complex and expensive process of reconstructing the vehicle and inspection may upgrade a branded title status, but it typically involves more expense than the vehicle is worth.
Salvage titles can normally be registered for road use. In some states an inspection is required to make sure that the vehicle is safe for the road, and that any parts used for repair are legal and have a verified origin. For your own safety make sure that any vehicle you purchase which as a salvage title has operational airbags and valid documentation of the VIN# and all major component parts.
Any attempt to remove, obscure, conceal, or alter a title brand using unauthorized means can be a violation of law often referred to as “title washing” or “title laundering.” The salvage title designation is shared with all 50 states. Evading a title brand is a serious offense. Getting a new title for that purpose is illegal and results is serious criminal penalties.
Junk title – A title which has been sold to a junkyard may incur a junk title designation if the vehicle is intended to be scrapped or parted out. A salvage title, junk title, rebuilt title, or certificate of destruction are almost always permanent brands on the title which cannot be removed. In rare cases a very complex and expensive process of reconstructing the vehicle and inspection may upgrade a branded title status, but it typically involves more expense than the vehicle is worth.
Bonded title – Obtaining a vehicle title when there is serious deficiency in the ownership documentation can sometimes be done using a bonded title. In this process a security bond is purchased equalling the amount of the value of the vehicle. This bond covers any future claims in the event that a valid claim to the vehicle comes forward in the future. The bond is used to pay to remove the claim of ownership or lien. The bonded title will have “Bonded” stamp in it for a period of 3 to 5 years. In many cases the bonded title is more expensive than other title recovery options, but may be a last resort when other methods are not possible. Contact us to determine if a bonded title or other option is most beneficial.
Reconstructed title – A vehicle which has been substantially rebuilt may have a reconstructed title brand issued by an insurance company, body shop, collision center, or licensed rebuilder. A vehicle with a reconstructed title can normally be registered for road use, but may have an inspection requirement to verify it is road worthy.
Affidavit title – A title may be issued under an affidavit in lieu of other missing documentation.
Rebuilt title – A vehicle which has been substantially rebuilt may have a rebuilt title brand issued by an insurance company, body shop, collision center, or licensed rebuilder. A vehicle with a rebuilt title can normally be registered for road use, but may have an inspection requirement to verify it is road worthy.The vehicle insurance may have limits if the title is rebuilt.
Certificate of destruction – When an insurance company has paid a claim for a vehicle and taken ownership from the insured, they have the option of processing the title as a certificate of destruction. In this case the vehicle is intended to be destroyed and never to be used on the road or registered. It is unlikely that a vehicle with a certificate of destruction can ever be issued a valid title for transfer.
A vehicle with a certificate of destruction can sometimes appear to be in acceptable condition. The insurance company decides to prevent the car from road use to limit their liability in the event that the car is driven and is involved in an accident at a later date. If it is proven that an injury in an accident is because the car had some existing defect, the injured person could claim that the insurance company should not have let the car go back on the road.
A vehicle in otherwise good condition can be issued a certificate of destruction if the insurance company thinks that the airbags could be damages, the frame could be weakened, or simply does not want to spend the money to do a detailed inspection, and just wants to sell it cheap to a junkyard.
Parts only title – A parts only designation is typically found on a bill of sale or transfer form, not on a title. However, if a parts only bill of sale is submitted for vehicle title processing, the title may be issued with a salvage brand or other cloud on title.
Electronic title – Many state DMV title systems are issuing electronic or paperless titles. If you need an actual title document those can often be obtained for transfer or loan processing.
Lienholder title – A vehicle with a lien or title loan may have a title issued directly to the lienholder. The purchaser will be listed as the owner, but the title will list the lender as lien holder, and the lender will retain possession of the title.
Export title – A vehicle being exported will likely need title documentation for customs clearance. If the vehicle is not declared at the exit point, clear title may not be possible in the destination country. Start the title process early so that port storage fees do not accumulate while waiting for title.
Import title – A vehicle being imported to the US must have legal title to clear customs. If the vehicle was previously titled in the US this is a vehicle title recovery process only. If the vehicle was not originally manufactured for the US market, there are requirements for certifying that the vehicle is legal for use in the United States. The Department of Transportation (DOT), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other agencies will need to verify that the vehicle is meets standards for emissions, safety, bumper height, and other guidelines prior to entering the country.