Is a Scrapyard the Best Place to Take a Car Without a Title?

When a car you drive daily starts costing too much in fuel or shows signs of engine trouble, it's easy to park it in the yard and forget about it for a little while. When you're finally ready to liquidate it, it's even easier for the title to go missing and leave you without hard proof of ownership. Most scrap yards and junk car buyers are happy to work around this limitation, but it's not your only option either. Decide between junking the car and trying to get the title back based on the vehicle's details.

Who Owns the Car?

If you're not the owner of the car, you can't sell it even to a junkyard without first going through the right channels. Even abandoned vehicles on your property must be handled according to county and state laws, regardless of your relationship to the owner. As long as you're the owner and have at least a notarized bill of sale to prove it, you're allowed to sell the car to a private buyer or junk car service. Keep in mind that vehicles purchased with a loan aren't your property until the loan is satisfied. This is a common reason for a title to be missing from the hands of the car's owner, and liens on the title make it illegal to sell to anyone else without the lien holder's permission.

How Much Proof Do You Have?

Assuming you're the owner, you'll still need some kind of proof in order to sell the vehicle to a junk car service or scrapyard. Most companies will accept current registration with the county and state you live in, with a copy of your driver's license to match. This means that it can be tricky to sell a car that was once registered but has fallen out of legal status because it was parked for so long. In most states, registration and a former bill of sale is not enough for you to complete a private sale to a buyer. If you're trying to avoid the hassle of a title search and have current registration, a scrapyard is likely your best choice.

Where is the Title?

The reason why the title is missing plays a big role in how hard it is to replace. If someone intentionally kept or took the title, you're likely going to pay a few hundred dollars for a full title search to have a new one issued in your name. The same is true for vehicles you purchased without a title. Many titles aren't strictly missing but rather rest in the hands of an ex-partner or a lender that is no longer receiving their payments. If this is the case but there's no liens issued on the vehicle, a junk service is definitely the easier route for getting rid of an unwanted car. If the title simply went missing and you have everything else in order, you may pay as little as $8 to have a duplicate copy issued. Check the fees for your state before assuming it's too expensive to get a new title.

What's the Car's Value?

The car's condition and value is the biggest determinant for whether it's best to junk it or not. A newer car in great shape could sell for enough to make it worth spending hundreds of dollars on a title search, while an old and broken down vehicle is likely best sent to the scrapyard regardless of the title situation. Check out what similar vehicles are selling for in your area and deduct the costs of title replacement before deciding that junking it is your only option just because some of the paperwork is missing.

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