Can a dealership sell a car without a title

Can a dealership sell a car without a title? Precautions, Risks, and Safety

Buying and selling a car isn’t a small deal and something that shouldn’t be treated lightly. Often times we want to sell or buy a car quickly; in the process, we may not take a good look at the transaction and even the vehicle itself. The most important document you have with your car is the car title. It is the singular proof that you are the owner of the vehicle and have registered yourself as the owner. 

This begs an important question, which we all ask, and that is; can a dealership sell a car without a title? This is a very serious topic, and something everyone should be informed of, in detail. We go about our dealings of daily items without giving a second thought; however, a vehicle purchase can have serious legal implications if done without complete legal transfer in accordance with local laws.

It is imperative that people are educated about these matters, as there are already many stolen vehicles that are sold and distributed illegally. Innocent people can become complicit in a crime due to ignorance of the matter.

Can a dealership sell a car without a title? No!

How long does a car dealership have to give you the title? – Timing is important

Say you have negotiated on a vehicle that you like. You check the condition, maybe take it out for a test drive, and have decided that you want it. The dealer will tell you the price, the model, and everything about the vehicle depending on your questions. After this, you both will negotiate the price, and shake on it. Now comes the most important part of the deal, and that is the car title. The dealer should, and will provide the car title to you if the sale goes through, transferring the ownership of the vehicle to you. 

But how long does a car dealership have to give you the title? The transfer of the title can take anywhere between 10 to 30 days, and in some US states take up to 2 months. This is because the legal process can take some time, and is done in a timely manner. Now, this is something that is true for new cars, but not used vehicles. If you buy a used vehicle from a dealership, you absolutely have to leave with the title, meaning the transfer of title should be immediate. If the dealership doesn’t have a title for a used vehicle, then that they are selling that illegally. The punishment could lead to an arrest, as many stolen vehicles around the world are sold in the same illegal manner.

Can I sell a car I bought but never registered? – Yes!

Another question asked on various forums, is; can I sell a car I bought but never registered? The answer is, yes, you can. If you have a car that isn’t registered, but you own the title of it, meaning you are the sole owner of the vehicle, then you can indeed sell it. Simply take the car to a dealership, or put an ad for it online, and you can legally sell it. There are multiple reasons why someone hasn’t registered their car. But, as long as you have the title — which again, is extremely important — you can sell the car.

However, if you don’t have the title of the car, and are attempting to sell it, that is completely illegal and has serious legal repercussions. Now, another thing that is important to note here is that a car’s registration means that the car can be legally driven in a state or area in accordance to the local driver’s license organization and laws. However, if the car isn’t registered but has a valid title, it can be sold.

Can a dealership hold your title? – No!

If you are buying a new car, the dealership will provide you with the title within a month, as we mentioned above. In the chance that it is a used vehicle, then you will be given the title immediately when you make the payment for your vehicle. If the dealer is holding the title without any reason, if they are in possession of it, then that is illegal. Even if you have made the payment for the used car, you only become the owner when you have the official title of the car.

Please ensure that you have an understanding of this because the title is as important as the car you purchase. If you are driving a car without a title, that automatically means it isn’t registered to you. As such, it is illegal to take out. If the dealer isn’t promising a title, then it is best to back out of the deal entirely. Under no circumstances can a dealership hold your title if you aren’t directly selling the car to them, and transferring the ownership to the dealer. We urge all potential buyers and sellers to be aware of this.


Buying and selling a car as we have observed, is a very serious transaction. While in most cases the chances of being at risk are low, it never hurts to be thorough in the dealing. To sum it all up, a title of a car is the document that confirms ownership of the individual; meaning, a person who owns any vehicle absolutely needs a title document for it. A vehicle with a title, but no registration is something one can sell. The dealership or any individual can not sell a vehicle without a title under any circumstances; it is an illegal activity across the world.

Each car has a valid title, and the registration allows you to drive a vehicle in a specific state or country. Without a title, you can’t register a car. Thus, it is the responsibility of the dealership to deliver you the title within 30 days since you’ve made the final payment; immediately, for a used vehicle.