You need to sell, but you don’t know how to sell a car without a free and clear title. You might wonder, “Is it even legal to sell it without a title?” After all, it’s the state government’s declaration that the car is yours to sell in the first place. Right?

There are ways you can sell your car, even if you don’t have the title in hand. We aren’t talking about breaking the law… or evading the law… or using a loophole in the law.

No, we are talking about legit ways to do it.

How To Sell a Used Car Without a Title

How To Sell a Late-Model Car Without a Title

Sell It To a Dealer

Some dealerships will make an offer on your used car, even if you don’t buy from them. A couple of examples:

You can find other dealers through the Kelly Blue Book Instant Cash Offer. First, enter your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN). You can enter your license plate number instead.

You then answer some questions about your car. The site will return your offer and nearby dealers that participate in the program.

A dealer still needs the title to make it a legal trade. Most dealers have plenty of experience in buying and trading vehicles. They work with people who don’t have the title all the time, and they’ll be usually helpful in the process.

If you don’t have the title because you haven’t paid it off, you’ll need to get proper documents from the lienholder. Most of the time, the finance department at the dealer can help.

Many states have laws that older cars do not need a title. But there are still some legal requirements. We’ll talk more about that later.

Sell It With a Bill of Sale

Your state might let you sell a car without a title if you provide a bill of sale. Keep in mind that you still need to deliver a title soon.

There’s a good chance your state has a bill of sale form that you can download from the DMV website. Most states allow a generic bill of sale as long as it has all the required info. Usually, you’ll need to include:

  • Make, model, and year
  • Style (sedan, SUV, pickup, etc.)
  • Seller full name and address
  • Buyer full name and address
  • Amount of the sale
  • Seller signature and date
  • Buyer signature and date

Some states require you to have the bill of sale notarized.

Sell It For Not-On-Road Use

Most states don’t require a title if the car isn’t driven on public roads. Some examples:

  • It’s only driven on private property
  • It’s solely used as a race car

You'll need to inform your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that you no longer own the car. It releases you from liability if the new owner:

  • Uses the car in a crime
  • Gets a ticket
  • Is in an accident

How To Replace a Car Title

  1. Identify your state’s titling authority. Usually, it’s called the Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV. Some states call it something else. In others, the authority goes to another department. For example:
  2. Massachusetts calls it the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
  3. In Ohio, it’s called the Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
  4. In Kentucky, you request a duplicate title from your local county clerk’s office.
  5. In Missouri, the Department of Revenue.
  6. Illinois, the Secretary of State.
  7. Complete the proper form. Most states have a downloadable PDF of the request form on their website. It’s usually formatted so you can fill it out before you print.
  8. Submit the form with the proper fee. The amount of the fee depends on your state. Replacement title fees range from $5.00 to $95.00.

When you list your car on PrivateAuto, you get electronic forms to get a replacement title in your state. You get other state-specific documents too.

How To Sell an Old Car Without a Title

In many states, older cars are exempt from title requirements. How old does it have to be? It depends on the state.

  • Georgia doesn’t require a title for cars of year model 1962 and earlier.
  • New York didn’t issue titles until 1973. Cars made in 1972 and earlier don’t need a title.
  • Alabama exempts cars more than 35 model years old.
  • Connecticut doesn’t require a title if the car is 20 or more model years old.
  • New Hampshire doesn’t issue titles for cars of year model 1999 and earlier.
  • In Rhode Island, you can sell a car of year model 2000 and before without a title.

So far, we’ve talked about selling a car when the title is lost or damaged. In these cases, you still need to provide a title down the road.

Now we’ll talk about selling your car to a buyer that doesn’t plan to drive it. There are several reasons why you might do that.

  • It doesn’t run and it costs too much to fix it.
  • It’s been wrecked and the cost to repair it is more than it’s worth.
  • It was damaged in a fire.
  • It was driven into a lake, river, swimming pool, etc.
  • It was in a flood.
  • It’s really old and no longer safe to drive.

A car that’s badly damaged or junk gets a branded title.

Once a title is branded, the car is forever declared non-roadworthy.

Even if you repair a car with a branded title, most insurance companies won’t cover it. It’s still a branded title.

Sell It For Parts

There are two ways to do this. You can sell the whole car to someone as a parts car or sell the individual parts.

Of course, selling individual parts can take a long time. If the car is sitting in your driveway for months until you sell all the parts, you might get into conflict with neighbors, your homeowners’ association, or the police.

If you live in a rural area, it might not be a problem. Otherwise, you’ll want to keep it in a garage or barn.

You’ll also spend a lot of time selling the parts.

  • Listing parts for sale on eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and others.
  • Shipping the parts or meeting with buyers.

It takes a lot less time to sell the whole car.

  • Salvage yard
  • A mechanic that specializes in cars like yours

You may be able to sell it with a bill of sale, but you’ll still need to apply for a replacement title to sign over to the buyer later on.

Sell It for Scrap

Compared to selling for parts, you’ll get much less when you sell it for scrap. For one thing, there’s a towing expense. Either you’ll pay for the towing or the buyer will deduct towing costs from the buy offer.

If you sell directly to a scrapyard, find one that recycles all kinds of materials. That way you can sell all the car’s materials.

Final Thoughts

If you’re like a lot of people, you made sure to keep the title in a safe place.

The problem is, you don’t remember where that safe place is!

If your state’s laws allow, you might be able to sell your car with a bill of sale while the replacement title is on order.

In some states, old cars are title exempt. That is, if they are more than 10, 15, or 20 years old, you can legally sell without a title. Check with your state’s DMV to find out if your car is title exempt.

If you “part out” your car, you don’t need a title, since you aren’t selling the entire car to a single buyer.

If you’re selling your car for parts or scrap, PrivateAuto is not the place to list. We don’t list junk cars. Sorry.

But if your car runs, PrivateAuto makes it easy.

  • Helps you avoid scams. We verify the identity of potential buyers. We also verify sellers, so your prospects can approach you with confidence.
  • Keeps your private info secure. You don’t have to share your contact information. Communicate with potential buyers on our platform.
  • Advertise on the road. With your free listing, you get a printable window brochure. It’s a great way to attract potential buyers while you’re out and about.
  • File the paperwork like a pro. Your listing includes state-specific documents that you can complete straight from the app. Plus, you can sign electronically.
  • Schedule test drives. Don’t know a good place to meet for a test drive? Let the PrivateAuto app suggest it for you. Choose the place and time best for you and you’re all set.

A lot of people list their cars on several selling sites. You should too. When it comes time to do the deal, use PrivateAuto.