If you're getting ready to buy a used car, there are a few things you really need to consider as you shop. One of the things many people overlook is the importance of looking at the title before you commit to buying. There are certain situations where things on the title could prevent you from insuring your new car or may lead to costly insurance premium increases. Here are a few things to look at and consider when it comes to those used car titles.
When a car is totaled by an insurance company such as R L Jones Insurance Services Inc following an accident, the insurance company usually takes it and has it crushed or otherwise disposed of. However, sometimes the car owner can negotiate a buyout that allows them to keep and repair the car on their own. At that point, because the car was totaled, the title is no longer valid. When the car is repaired, it must be inspected before a new title can be issued, and then it is given a salvage title.
Most salvage titles clearly state the status across the top of the title, but sometimes you have to read it closely and look for a "title type" field or something similar to find it. Legally, the owner is supposed to disclose up front that the title is a salvage, but some aren't aware of that.
Given the fact that the car was once totaled, some states will not even allow you to register a car with a salvage title. It can instead only be used for parts. In other cases, if you can register it, you may find that your insurance company either increases your premium due to the increased safety risk of the car or will not insure it because of its history.
Sometimes someone will buy a used car from a previous owner, decide within a week or two that they don't like it, and put it up for sale right away. While this isn't a problem on its own, if they didn't get the new title for the car after they bought it, it can be.
If you go to buy a car from someone and there's another seller's name filled out on the title with no buyer information, that's a key indication that this is what's happened. In this case, you can usually just fill out your information and get the new title without a problem, though technically the person you're buying from should have the title in their name, otherwise you have no way to know for sure that they actually own the car.
If they did fill out the buyer section of the title, you can't purchase the car without them actually getting the new title. In some states, this can take a few weeks to complete. Don't be misguided into thinking that you can handle that part yourself, because they have to get the title in their name before you can legally buy it from them. Third-party title transfers are typically not allowed in most states.