Help a friend get legal ownership of a car he purchased in Illinois sans title
August 8, 2011 11:46 AM   Subscribe

Help a friend get legal ownership of a car he purchased in Illinois sans title

My friend bought a car in Illinois more than a year ago from a private party. He has a bill of sale, but the seller never gave him the title. Additionally, it appears there is no VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on the car.

My friend has two options, as I see it:
- Track down the seller and demand a title (via legal or law enforcement channels)
- Somehow prove ownership of the vehicle to the state in which he lives (not Illinois) and gain legal ownership of the vehicle

So far my friend has not had much luck tracking down the seller, though if he had better guidance on this he might be able to do so. He is totally dependent on a vehicle to get to work--there is no other option; he is also in dire financial straits.

MeFites, any recommendations?

* I am aware that buying a car without a title is stupid, and also that the vehicle may be stolen.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (3 answers total)
There are 2 places where the VIN should be.
If the VIN has been removed or tampered with it's my understanding that he's SOL.
If not, if his car has a VIN but he just didn't know where to find it, then it depends on what state he's in as to how to go about getting a title and registering the car.
posted by Floydd at 12:04 PM on August 8, 2011

There are generally a number of places that include the VIN, including the firewall on most cars. You can search the internet by the specific car to find your friend's. If all of the VIN numbers are missing, its most likely not by chance, and your friend is SOL. Plus, it may be worse than that because if the car was stolen, receiving stolen goods can be a crime, and even if it isn't in your friend's case, he may lose the stolen property with no compensation.
posted by rtimmel at 12:51 PM on August 8, 2011

IANAL. Eh, if he bought an antique, or a kit car, or even a late model car assembled from junk parts, there might not have been a valid VIN, or a title at time of sale. Such special cases aren't often intended for road use, and if your friend is trying to title the car in order to pay tax, and get it insured, and get license plates and registration on the vehicle to legally operate it on public roads, it might be on him to apply for the various title exemption reasons available in Illinois, pay for the requisite inspections, and go from there.

Otherwise, consult an Illinois attorney.
posted by paulsc at 6:59 PM on August 8, 2011

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