Should I buy a motorcycle without a title?
This is a very good question, and this is exactly what the entire article seeks to answer by providing you with all the useful information you ought to be aware of when getting a title for a motorcycle without one. It can be difficult to tell if a motorcycle without a title is worth buying since there are legitimate reasons why a seller might not have a title for the vehicle.
Can you sell a motorcycle without a title? Yes, and that’s because motorcycle titles can get lost often due to natural disasters, moving house, finance repossession recoveries, differences between how the registrations are handled from one state to another, or police theft recoveries.
These are all legitimate reasons, and just because a seller doesn’t have a title, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the seller is a scammer.
With that said, you will need to be very vigilant when buying a bike with no title, and the first thing that you will have to ask the seller is the reason why the motorcycle doesn’t have proof of ownership. If the seller appears nervous when answering this question, it might be better to decline the sale, no matter how good the deal might seem.
If the motorcycle has been parted out or if the ignition lock appears to be busted, these are also signs that you may be looking at a stolen vehicle. When dealing with what appears to be a scammer, you should always find another reason to cancel or postpone the purchase.
You never know how these people might react when confronted, and you should play it safe. On the other hand, if the seller meets you at his or her home and the bike appears in very good shape, these are signs that the purchase might be completely legitimate.
Furthermore, if you are buying an old motorcycle, you should know that in states such as New York and New Hampshire, motorcycles that are over a certain age don’t get titled at all.
In this case, what you will get is a transferable registration, which looks like a small piece of paper that may not inspire confidence, but that is entirely legal. In such a situation, buying the motorcycle won’t cause you any headaches.
For the other cases, where the seller should have a title, but he or she doesn’t, for whichever reason, things can be a bit more difficult, and that’s because you will need to obtain a legal title for it. This can be achieved in all states, but the amount of money or time that you will need to invest in it can vary.
Some services can do all the legwork for you, but they generally demand quite a hefty fee of around $500. If you decide to do the hard work yourself, you will generally need to pay only a nominal fee and then take a trip to see a judge.
This process can be very intimidating because you need to make sure that the vehicle isn’t stolen. For an old and valuable bike, the process might be worth it, especially if you got a good deal of it.
In general, obtaining a legal title will require a lot of time, phone calls, and trips from one place to another. To be on the safe side, you should make sure that you get a bill of sale from the seller, and if you manage to get it notarized, that’s even better.
How to make sure the motorcycle isn’t stolen
In the U.S., unknowingly buying a stolen motorcycle still qualifies as a federal crime, which makes it even more important to take all the precautions you can to avoid purchasing stolen property. The punishment for this crime varies from one state to another, and it can include fines, probation, restitution to the owner, and even jail time.
Aside from the common red flags, such as the seller being nervous or the motorcycle showing visual signs of being busted, there is one easy and safe way to make sure that the bike isn’t stolen. The best thing? It is entirely free.
You will need what is known as the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which is usually located on the steering stem, namely on the right fork stem in the front of the bike. Every vehicle has a unique VIN, and there is no reason for the seller to withhold this information. If he or she doesn’t want to tell you the VIN, then you can be certain that there’s something wrong with the motorcycle.
Once you have the VIN, you can run it through the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VIN Check database. When a vehicle is reported as stolen, the VIN will show in that database.
How hard is it to get a motorcycle title?
It all depends on the situation that you find yourself in. There are three main scenarios, and we will go through each one to help you understand what you need to do to register a motorcycle without a title.
The first scenario is the simplest one, and it is applicable if you own the vehicle, but you lost the title. In this case, if the vehicle is already registered in your name, you will simply need to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state and bring a photo ID, such as your driver’s license.
There you will need to pay a small amount in exchange for a new title. The fee is quite low, and in New York, for example, it will cost you around $20. The same steps can be followed if you’re interested in finding out how to get a title for a moped that doesn’t have one.
The next scenario has you buying a motorcycle without a title, and we can split this into two situations: one in which the owner can help you and another in which he or she won’t or can’t assist you.
If, after contacting the owner about the missing title, he or she is willing to help you, then the owner will need to follow the steps we’ve described above and go to the DMV to get a new title printed.
Once the owner gets the title, he or she can sign the slip over to you. It is a good idea to pay for the new title yourself and give a tip or any other incentive to the owner for his or her time and willingness to help you out.
When the owner can’t or won’t help you with motorcycle titling, things can get a little more complicated, which is why we’ve dedicated an entire section to it.
How to register a motorcycle without a title if the seller won’t help you
It is possible to become the legal owner of a vehicle even if you don’t have the title signed to you, but to achieve this, there are some steps that you will need to follow. First, you will need to get an affidavit that will state clearly why the motorcycle is yours, the steps you have taken to get the title, and why you have not been successful.
The information that the affidavit needs to contain includes all the relevant dates, namely the date of purchase, date of declaration, and the dates in which you communicated with the seller. You will also need to include details about the purchase, the price, year, make, and model, as well as the Vehicle Identification Number.
You’ll also need the seller’s information: full name, phone number, address, and other relevant contact information. Lastly, you will also need to include any other relevant information.
You will need to declare that you are the legal owner of the motorcycle, explain why the title was not available at the time you purchased the vehicle, declare what you or the seller have done to get the title, and if the seller wasn’t able to help you, you will need to explain why.
The claims that you make in the affidavit will all need to be supported by evidence since otherwise, you may not be able to get it notarized. So what kind of evidence do you need? If you’ve talked with the original owner of the motorcycle through texts, emails, or messaging apps, then for every statement, you should provide a screenshot to support your claim.
If you don’t have something that you can screenshot, you can write a letter stating the facts and then have the seller sign it. This will turn the letter into your evidence.
The last thing that you will need is your motorcycle since, in order to get the affidavit notarized, the person doing it may want to have a look at the vehicle as well as the bill of sale, keys, and any other proof you may have in hand. This step is also necessary to verify that the VIN matches the one in your document.
You can get the affidavit notarized from government institutions, such as a city hall or local courthouse, as well as from financial institutions and businesses, such as banks, unions, and businesses that have a notary on site. You can also get it notarized from a lawyer. This is more expensive, but it may be a good alternative if you have a close relationship with one.
How do you get a title for an old motorcycle?
If you’ve purchased an old motorcycle, then you will need to follow the steps we’ve described above and go to the local DMV along with your proof of residence, the bill of sale from the sale, and fill out a new title application.
However, what if you happen to find an old motorcycle rusting somewhere? Before you do any work on it, you will need to do a bit of paperwork. You won’t have a bill of sale, and instead, you will need to try to contact the original owner and document your attempts.
After a long enough time has passed without getting any response, you can get the evidence to the DMV, which may use it to prove that the motorcycle has been abandoned. Once this is done, you will be able to proceed through all the previous steps and fill out a new title application.
What is a salvage title?
When purchasing used motorcycles, you might encounter sellers that offer a salvage title instead of a regular one. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is still something that you should consider carefully.
The point of a salvage title is to show that the vehicle was in an accident or damaged to such an extent that the insurance company decided that it would cost too much to repair the bike and refer to it as “total loss.”
Insurance companies will often try to recoup the money by selling the vehicle to the owner or a shop to have it repaired. When this happens, the vehicle will have a salvage title linked to it.
There’s a big market for motorcycles that come with a salvage title since it means that the buyer can get a very good deal on the vehicle. With that said, if you are planning on purchasing a salvage motorcycle, you should have it inspected by an experienced mechanic beforehand to make sure that everything is in order and the bike is safe to ride.
Lastly, you should also be aware that a salvage title associated with the motorcycle can have you experience insurance and financing problems. Insurance companies will insure these vehicles at a higher rate and with a lower payout.