How to Check a Car Title History

Car Title When you purchase a vehicle, you will take ownership of it and the proof that you do in fact own the car or truck is provided by the vehicle’s title. A title is a certificate that establishes ownership. Normally, titles are issued by a state’s Department of Motor Vehicles or Department of Transportation. Before buying a new vehicle, you should check the title’s history to ensure that you are not purchasing something that will give you headaches in the future. Here is how you can check a title history.


Understanding a Car Title


As stated, car and truck titles are issued by a state entity. Each title contains information about the owner of the vehicle as well as information about the vehicle itself. All titles will contain a vehicle identification number or VIN. A VIN is unique to each vehicle and can be found inside the door jam on the driver’s side, on the dashboard, or on a strip on the vehicle’s engine. Make sure to check the VIN on the vehicle and see that it matches the VIN on the title.


Look at the Mileage


There is a space for the mileage on the title. When a brand new car is bought, the dealer will have the mileage listed on the title. In buying a car, check the odometer for the current mileage and compare it to the mileage on the title. Check the date to see when the owner took possession of the vehicle. You should be able to tell if the car’s odometer has been tampered with by examining the number of miles driven on the car.


Has the Vehicle Been Damaged?


If the vehicle you are about to buy has had a history of damage, you can find it by examining the title history. A car that has been in an accident or has been damaged by a natural disaster will have an indication on the title. You can also see any title changes as well as a record of emissions testing on the vehicle by examining the title.


Beware of Specific Labels on the Title


Different states will use different codes, but, for the most part, most states label a title as “S” for salvage for vehicles that have been demolished in an accident. Some sellers will try to hide a salvage designation by saying that the title has been lost or transferring the title to a different state. If there are any warning signs involving a car’s title, stay clear of making a purchase.


Look at Lien Holders


Car owners can take out car title loans from lenders such as Embassy Loans using their vehicle as collateral. Embassy Loans’ name would appear on the title as a lien holder. As a buyer, you may be able to find out the amount owed on the vehicle and make an offer accordingly.