What Does A Car Title Look Like?
Your car title, or certificate of title, is proof of vehicle ownership in a legal document. What does a vehicle title look like? Also known as a pink slip, vehicle titles typically include the Vehicle Identification Number, year, make, model, year and color of your car. Every state has different car titles and car title requirements. Read on to learn more specific information about what a car title looks like, including examples of car titles from all 50 states.
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What Type Of Vehicle Title Does My Car Have?
There are many types of car titles, your car likely has one of these car title designations based on the vehicle's history:
- Clean: A clean title implies the vehicle has never been labeled “totaled” by an insurance company after an accident. This usually means the cost to fix the damage is worth a high percentage or more than the worth of the vehicle. The status of a clean title or pink slip varies based on the types of situations below.
- Certificate of origin: This is the original title given from the motor vehicle's manufacturer to the car dealership. This is the document you will receive when you buy a brand new car, you use this document to obtain a car title.
- Manufacturer's statement of origin: Almost identical to the “certificate of origin”, this title is another document that is transferred from the manufacturer to a car dealer, which is used to obtain a car title.
- Affidavit: This document is a car title that is issued under an affidavit (a sworn statement of fact issued by the state) when there is other missing documentation about the vehicle.
- Bonded: When there is no clear registered owner of a vehicle, you can apply for a bonded car title. Basically, you purchase a security bond worth the amount of the value of the car. If another person claims ownership of the motor vehicle in the future, the bond can be used to pay to remove that valid claim of ownership or lien.
- Clear Title: The terminology for a car title that has no lien.
- Electronic: Electronic titles can be issued in many states. These can be useful in obtaining physical titles for transferring or loan processing.
- Lienholder: When you purchase a car through financing you will have a lienholder title. Think of it as a loan holder.This title lists you as the owner but the lienholder is listed as the lender. The lender has possession of the title until the vehicle is paid in full. A lien or "loan" can come from a credit union or other bank used by the dealership. If you pay cash in full upfront, there is no need for a lienholder title or lender.
- Junk: If a vehicle has been collected by a junkyard, the title will change to a junk title if the vehicle will be scrapped or sold for parts in the future.
- Salvage: The three loss events that qualify a vehicle to be designated as a salvage title are theft, repair, and/or major damage. Usually when a vehicle has incurred 60% more damage than its value it is designated as a salvage title.
- Flood & water damage: Any time motor vehicles go through a flood, have water damage from a rain storm, or have been submerged in a body of water may be designated a flood & water damage title.
- Import: An import title is simply a vehicle that has been imported into the U.S. for the first time.
- Export: If a car is being exported, the vehicle will need a designated export title. This title makes it possible for customs clearance.
- Reconstructed: Any car that has been rebuilt for road use can be branded as a reconstructed title by a collision center, body shop, insurance company, and/or a licensed vehicle rebuilder.
- Rebuilt: Similar to the reconstructed title, the rebuilt title brand can be assigned by a collision center, body shop, insurance company, and/or a licensed vehicle rebuilder.
- Certificate of destruction: This title designation means that the car is to be destroyed and not used for road use.
- Parts only: This title brand is typically taken care of on a title transfer for parts only.
- Lemon: A lemon title brand is a title designation for cars that have experienced the same mechanical failure several times.
- Odometer roll back: If someone has attempted to tamper with the odometer reading in a car in order to sell the car at a higher price even though it has high mileage, a mechanic can brand the vehicle with an odometer rollback title. Double check your odometer reading is correct!
What Does A Car Title Look Like?
What does a car title look like? It depends on your state, but a lot of car titles share similarities. Here is an example:
Example Of A Car Title
This is a California certificate of title. Not all titles will look like this as all states are different, but this is a good reference point. As you can see, the top portion contains the vehicle’s basic information. Below you will find the registered owners name and address. The middle section has fields to fill out in the case of a title transfer—usually occurring when selling the vehicle. This section has two places for the seller to sign and one spot for the buyer to sign.
Title FAQ For Motor Vehicles In All 50 States
Do you have a question about your state’s vehicle title and its rules? No matter where your address is, each title varies based on state. Here are answers to frequently asked questions for all 50 states and their vehicle titles:
For more general FAQs and answers check out our vehicle donation title FAQ page.
How Do I Get A Title?
After answering "what does a car title look like?" Here's everything you need to know about your car title.
- Car's that are purchased from a car dealership are given a "Certificate of Origin". This is the document you will need to obtain a title at the DMV.
- For all other cars that are newer than the year 1973, you'll need to transfer a title into your name. This can be done (in most states) by stating the name(s) of the buyer and seller on the transfer section of the title and a signature on a vehicle bill of sale. Sometimes a notary is required to complete the transfer.
- Cars that are less than 10 years old will typically need an odometer check and a damage disclosure along with the title transfer.
Car registration is different than a car title. Know the difference between a car registration and title here. The vehicle's sale process, weight class, date of sale, can effect the cost of registration.
How To Get A Duplicate Title
If you have lost, misplaced, damaged, or destroyed your vehicles title you can typically get a new one through your local DMV. You will need to fill out some forms and prove ownership of the vehicle. If you are the new owner of a title, you should have received a title when transferring ownership. Every state differs when obtaining a duplicate title. If you lost your title, you can provide required information to the state department of motor vehicles to get a new tile.
The cost of getting a new title is typically around $20. The process is fairly easy if you have the right paperwork.
If you were denied, delayed, or just having a hard time obtaining a duplicate, you can work with a non-profit like Wheels For Wishes. Wheels For Wishes is a car donation program that benefits Make-A-Wish kids. We can help you obtain a duplicate and let you know exactly what you need to fill out in a timely matter when the DMV might take weeks to get back to you.
Transferring A Title
When transferring a title, put the buyer's name in the assignment section. The assignment section is typically located on the back and is used by the DMV when there is a new owner.
How Do You Use A Car Title?
What do you use a car title for? Your car title proves you own your vehicle. Since vehicle titles prove ownership, you typically need them when transferring ownership. Let’s say, for example, you are selling your vehicle. Each state has a different procedure, but one way or another you will need to transfer your title to the new legal owner.
Car I Donate A Car With No Title?
Getting a replacement title is easy through Wheels For Wishes. The same generally applies to donating your vehicle. We'll even help with your all your DMV questions. To donate your car, follow these steps:
- Call us at 1-855-278-9474 or fill out our easy online donation form.
- We will get back to you within 24 hours of the next business day to schedule your FREE pick up and towing. We come to you almost anywhere, and we accept almost all vehicles in any condition.
- We send your tax-deductible receipt in the mail. Yes, it really pays to donate!
The Vehicle Identification Number
The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a number created by the vehicle's manufacturer to identify each vehicle individually. A VIN will tell you the make, model, and year of vehicles. It will also tell you when specific vehicles were made. The department of motor vehicles needs this number when getting a title and when you register a car.
Can A Car Title Have More Than One Owner?
Yes! A car title can have multiple owners. It is called "joint tenancy". This is different than transferring a car to a private individual, where you would put a name in the seller section.
What Is Title Washing?
Title washing is when someone creates false documents in order to sell their car for more money. If a car has been totaled in an accident, the insurance company will put a junk title on the vehicle. The type of title will vary but it will no longer be clean. Washing can also including a false vehicle registration card, incorrect weight class, false date, and more.