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What Is an Auto Title?

An Auto Title is a certificate given to the legal owner of a car. It is given by the Department of Motor Vehicles (also known as the DMV).

The Auto Title shows pertinent information like the name of the owner, the current address, the vehicle’s make, model and year, and the first date that it was sold.

The Auto Title is a very important document and should be stored safely, either in a fireproof safe inside the house, or in a safety deposit box. This document is needed whenever the car is sold, and is signed over to the new owner of the car. He must then bring the document to the DMV and begin the registration process for the formal transference of ownership, which culminates in a new Auto Title.

The Auto Title also assigns a unique vehicle identification number (also called VIN) to the car. This number is engraved on a small steel plate that is attached to the dash, or the door jam, or in the engine compartment. When buying a car, it is crucial to verify if the Auto Title’s VIN matches the one engraved on the car.

Since the Auto Title also shows the last time that the car was sold, new buyers can use this as a tool to assess the car’s mileage. Compare the date with the odometer (the car’s mileage indicator). If the car had 50,000 miles three years ago, and the current gauge reflects 48,000 then be wary. It may not necessarily mean the owner tampered with the odometer (the machine could’ve been broken) but it certainly merits an explanation. The title will also show if the car was salvaged from an auto accident.

Featured in Autos