Paid off car, have title. Now what?
May 17, 2013 3:57 PM   Subscribe

I paid off my car in December, and haven't been around. I'm now back home with the car in California, and I have the car title from the bank/company. The title says I have to notify the DMV within 10 days or something like that, but I'm obviously wayyy past that time frame now. What do I do? Google searches equally tell me to (a) transfer to my name and my name only, asap, removing the bank/company as lienholder, and (b) don't bother until I sell the car. Argh!! Which one is it? Help me, so I don't have to wait at the DMV ... and be told that I don't need to be there after all!
posted by Xere to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My California DMV office (Petaluma) has a person for whom the line is usually less than 4 people long whose job it is to give you the right forms and direct you to the right department. And if that person can't help you, that person will help you make an appointment so you don't have to wait there.
posted by straw at 3:59 PM on May 17, 2013

I'd do it now. The loan is paid off and the bank doesn't care about it anymore, but the state still thinks the bank owns owns (sorta) the car. If you should lose the title before dealing with this, it may be a difficult mess to clean up.
posted by jon1270 at 4:00 PM on May 17, 2013

If you are a AAA member, title transfers and registration can be taken care of at your nearest AAA office. It's WAY better than going to the DMV, and the wait times are often super short. My nearest office is even open on saturdays. Go register the car in your name.
posted by Bohemia Mountain at 4:01 PM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Seconding Bohemia Mountain about AAA. I am in California and I had a car that I had paid off back in 2009. I didn't do the title thing until going to a AAA location in 2012. There were no problems related to the lateness and it took only a few minutes.
posted by sciatica at 4:14 PM on May 17, 2013

AAA is probably the way to go, but if you are not a AAA member, you can make an appointment at a CA DMV office online. In my experience, this means you just get to wait in a much shorter line than the main out-the-door line, and a title transaction shouldn't take much time at all. Note that you sometimes have to look around for the shorter line; do not make the mistake of waiting in the non-appointmented line for half an hour only to find out that you could have just strolled up at any time to the special desk for people with appointments.
posted by brianconn at 4:38 PM on May 17, 2013

Petaluma has the quickest, bestest DMV I've ever been to, so I'm not sure straw's experience will be typical.

This is the real reason I pay for AAA.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:39 PM on May 17, 2013

This is so funny because I just went through exactly the same thought process as you. I paid off my car (yay!), got the title and what?? I also read that it didn't matter until you sold the car, but I just wanted to get it over with so I didn't have to think about it years later.

I made an appointment online at the DMV (I'm in SoCal), showed up with the title and lien release and finished the entire process in about 10 minutes. Way easier than I thought it would be. I got my new title in the mail a week later. It's all mine!
posted by dede at 5:21 PM on May 17, 2013

It depends on how your state has the title worded and set up. In Illinois, the title is in the owner's name, but there is a space for lienholder, and then another space for them to release the lien. So when you pay off the loan, they sign the title and send it to you. There is no further need to do anything. A title with a released lien is just a title.

But other states might be different. I'm sure the California DMV has a website that will tell you what you need to know.
posted by gjc at 6:31 PM on May 17, 2013

DMV visit not required; you can do it through the mail.

After you pay off your loan, the lienholder will sign the title and mail it to you. If the lienholder is in DMV’s Electronic Lien and Title Program (ELT), the title will be automatically mailed to you. The ELT is a voluntary program for lienholders that provides the lienholder with an electronic (paperless) certificate of title in lieu of a paper title.

Submit your title to DMV within 30 days to remove the lienholder's name, and DMV will issue a new title in your name. There is a transfer fee to remove or change a legal owner. You may mail the title with a check or money order for the transfer fee or the REG 227 with a check or money order for transfer fee, plus the duplicate title fee...

posted by elsietheeel at 7:07 PM on May 17, 2013

Yeah, the only hurdle you might potentially maybe have to jump would be because of the 30 day limit. They might consider that title 'lost' at that point, and would make you get a new title issued ($fee), have that signed by the legal owner in front of a notary ($fee), and submitting the new title within 30 days of that.

I'm guessing they're probably running about 30 days on the turnaround for processing the deal and getting new titles issued, so it's not a huge deal if you're late too. I would go ahead and initiate the process with your current documents by mail or through AAA, and then just be prepared to jump if they say jump.
posted by carsonb at 10:57 PM on May 17, 2013

Online it would seem..
posted by BenPens at 4:40 AM on May 18, 2013

I live in California and just made the final payment on my car, and I called the bank to do it to double-check the process. They said that California is an "electronic state" and that they contact the state and the state will send me my title within 21 days. Are you sure that you got your title from the bank and not the state?
posted by radioamy at 12:00 PM on May 18, 2013

« Older Where them like-minded people at?   |   Aches And Pains - How Often How Normal - What is... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.