Selling and buying a car is part of our daily life. We all need a new car from time to time; there’s a good chance that we sell our last one to get some monetary relief in the purchase. However, can you sell a car that is not in your name? What are the legal implications of such a transaction? What does it really mean if a car is in your name or not? The answer is a bit nuanced and more technical than one might imagine.
Having a car in your name refers to the title of a car. The title of the car is a legal document that confirms that you are the owner of the said vehicle. It also confirms that you got a registration to drive the vehicle based on the document itself.
The title of a car, and can you sell a car that is not in your name?
Can I sell a car I bought but never registered? Yes and No!
When you buy a car from someone, it is their legal responsibility to transfer the title of the car to you. This action makes you the new owner of the vehicle. When you attain ownership, you can register the vehicle so that it is legally allowed to be driven in a state or country. These are the two steps that are legally required for a vehicle to come under your legal possession and be driven. But you may ask yourself, can I sell a car I bought but never registered? Yes, you can.
If you have simply bought the car, and have the title document in your name, then you can sell the vehicle without registration. A registration like we mentioned above is something every new owner has to get freshly made and approved from the DMV. Even if you bought a used vehicle, you still have to register it in your name, so that you can drive it. Even if the previous owner had it registered, their registration is meaningless to you. Only the title matters, as every car has its own title; it establishes the connection between you and the vehicle in a possession matter.
Can I authorize someone to sell my car? – Definitely!
If you are the title owner of a vehicle but don’t want to sell your car, what can you do? In this situation, you may ask yourself, “can I authorize someone to sell my car?”; the answer is yes. If you are simply unable or busy, you can ask a friend, or even an agent to sell a car for you.
This requires you to write a letter, giving the friend or person the power of attorney to sell your automobile. The letter will include complete details of the vehicle and include copies of your ID, the IDs of the person selling the vehicle on your behalf, and a copy of the registration. In the end, you sign the document, and the person selling it signs it as well. After the transaction has commenced, you are free of the burden, which was carried out by someone else on your behalf.
This is a very common practice, and there are even agencies that can take care of this part for you; for a price, they can sell your car for you. It is a perfectly legal practice, and if you are someone who simply does not have the time to sell a car yourself, you can just hire someone to do it for you. This is an especially good practice for someone who isn’t that good at dealing and wants the best price for their car.
What to do if the buyer does not transfer the vehicle in his name? – A serious matter!
Say you sold a car to someone a few months ago, and you both had an agreement that the buyer will get the title changed immediately when they can. This is a legal responsibility, and the seller should make sure that the buyer has fulfilled it. But what do to if the buyer does not transfer the vehicle in his name? This is a very serious situation and something you could have to contact authorities for.
First, try to make contact with the buyer, and ask them why they haven’t registered the vehicle in their name yet? If they simply forgot, make sure they have it done as soon as possible. Furthermore, if you can’t establish contact, you should contact the police or the DMV and ask for further instructions.
If they haven’t transferred the title, this means they are driving a car that is still owned by you. If any crime is committed in that vehicle, you could be implicit in the crime and face legal problems, and it could become a problem. Authorities could contact you later given how you were the actual owner of the car based on the data against the vehicle. So it is absolutely essential that you make sure the new owner properly changes the title to themselves.
So, in short, can you sell a car that is not in your name? No! Because the title of a car, meaning the name of the car is supposed to clarify who is the real owner of the car itself. You can sell a car without the registration, but you absolutely need a title. If for whatever reason you have lost it, you can contact the DMV to get a replacement, or your bank might be holding it.
If you have the title, you can ask someone to sell a car on your behalf. This is a common and completely legal practice. Lastly, if you sold someone a car, and they still haven’t transferred the title to their name, you need to contact them or the respective authorities. A vehicle that is still in your name, but not driven by you can cause serious legal problems for you.