What Could Happen If You Buy A Motorcycle Without A Title

Sure, the price is great, the bike is exactly what you are looking for, but the seller doesn’t have a title.  He tells you it’s easy to get a title, or he’s waiting for it from the DMV, or maybe claims he lost it and it’s easy to get a new one.  Here are a few facts you should know when you are going to purchase a Motorcycle without a title:

  1. He “lost” it.  Most states have expedited title services, find out if your state has the service, if they do, and the seller’s legit, he should have the title in a few days, then buy the bike.
  2. There was a lien on the bike and it’s “in the mail”. If that is true, and there was a lien on the bike, the lien holder can fax the seller a letter stating the lien has been satisfied and the title has been mailed.  The letter will also state the name of the owner and the date the lien was satisfied, be sure this matches up with the information the seller is giving you.
  3. The title is in someone else’s name.  If this is the case, and the seller never titled the vehicle, you cannot put the title in your name.  Taxes and fees must be paid every time a private party sells a motorcycle to another private party, if you walk into a DMV and someone else’s name is listed before yours as the buyer, you will not be able to plate and drive the bike legally.  No matter what the seller tells you, they must put the bike in their name before they sell it to you.
  4. The bike is “too old” to have a title.  Every motorcycle has a title, no matter the age.  The VIN # (also known as vehicle identification number) has changed in length throughout the years, currently 17 digits, but even those from the 70’s, with only 10 digits, had titles.

Here are a few other things to consider when there is no title:

There may be a lien holder looking to repo the bike for lack of payments, it is illegal for the owner to sell it to you.

The bike may be stolen, your local police department can run the VIN and confirm that it is not a stolen vehicle.  If you buy the bike, without a title, you are in possession of stolen property if that is the case.

If you believe the seller is being up front with you, go with the seller to your local DMV and they will be happy to assist you.