Hooray I own my car
March 8, 2006 3:05 PM   Subscribe

Paid off my car. The bank sent me the title and a letter that tells me to submit the title to the DMV, who will then issue me a lien-free title in my name alone.

The question is, what if I don't do this? Nobody likes going to the DMV. Also, I'm in NJ if that makes any difference.
posted by jclovebrew to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total)
Seems to me that if you ever want to sell your car, a lien-free title would be a good thing to have. If you intend on driving the car into the ground, it probably doesn't matter.
posted by pdb at 3:14 PM on March 8, 2006

Response by poster: I should have added that I do not plan to sell this car ever. But if that ever changes, could I just go get the lien-free title at the last minute (which might be years from now).
posted by jclovebrew at 3:16 PM on March 8, 2006

I ended up trading in the first car I ever bought for myself, and brought my pink slip in when I completed my transaction for my new car. All I'd ever done with the pink slip was take it out of the envelope to see what it was and then stick it right back in again, and didn't even notice the text telling me to go to the DMV and re-register with them. Basically, nobody gave a crap, and whatever happened afterwards I assume the dealership that took posession of my car dealt with whatever had to be done with the pink slip.

It seems like it's no big deal. But losing the pink slip and/or your car and trying to get either replaced afterwards would probably be hell.
posted by LionIndex at 3:21 PM on March 8, 2006

You'll have to do it if you ever want to use the car as collateral for a loan too.
posted by loquax at 3:22 PM on March 8, 2006

Also: 2+ years passed between my having full ownership of the car and then selling it.
posted by LionIndex at 3:22 PM on March 8, 2006

Is there an option to do this by mail? Seems like you can do it that way here in Illinois.

At any rate, even if you have to show up in person, it seems like it would be a good idea. You never know what complications might pop up in the future.
posted by hwestiii at 3:23 PM on March 8, 2006

By the way, it costs money to get a new title, $75 in Illinois.
posted by rabbitsnake at 3:24 PM on March 8, 2006

The bank send me the tittle to my first car, after I paid off the loan. I thought I filed it away, but ten years later when I went to sell the car I couldn't find it. It cost $25 in PA to get a replacement. I say get it and stick it in a safe deposit box.
posted by fixedgear at 3:32 PM on March 8, 2006

Hennepin County, Minnesota has 'government service centers' where you can do all sorts of folderol: car-driver stuff, pay fines, get a passport, you name it. I did exactly what you're describing just a couple of months ago, and it was very hassle-free here. You hand over the docs, they do a bunch of rubber-stamps and computer entries, you make a payment, done. New title shows up in the mail later.

If I had to go to an actual DMV station, the wait in line alone would probably be a hassle, so I sympathize on that point. But it's still worth doing. It would look weird to have the car re-titled long after the loan has been paid off.
posted by gimonca at 3:45 PM on March 8, 2006

Could be a bitch if you get in a wreck and wanna get paid by insurance. Maybe?
posted by rbs at 3:50 PM on March 8, 2006

My similar experience, where I'd paid off a car-loan, I found it the hard way I should have gotten the title taken care of up front. Despite initially swearing I'd never sell the car, I did end up using it as trade in a few years later, only to discover that the loan company, when filing the lien-release with Oregon, had sent them paperwork with the VIN number off by one digit. By then the original loan company had been bought/sold several times, and it took a lot of work on my part to find out who had the legal authority to resend the lien-release paperwork with the correct VIN. Bottom line, my suggestion is to get all the paperwork done while you still know where everyone involved is at.
posted by nomisxid at 4:56 PM on March 8, 2006

>Could be a bitch if you get in a wreck and wanna get paid by insurance. Maybe?

I'm in Minnesota. I paid off a car about four years ago, and got a "release of lien" from Chrysler. I dropped it in the fire safe along with the title showing Chrysler as the lienholder.

Two months ago, I totalled that car. American Family Insurance asked for the title and the "release of lien" card. There waqs absolutely no issue with the title having Chrysler listed as lienholder. All these years, they've been listed on my insurance policy as the lienholder. Claims have been paid without issue the whole time.

I did carry collision and comp the whole time; perhaps if I'd tried to drop those coverages or take the lienholder off the policy, I'd have had to get a new title. I'm not sure, though. It seems to me that if they're willing to write me a check for the total value on the strength of an old title and a release card, why wouldn't they let me take the lienholder off with the same documentation?

YMMV, of course.
posted by chazlarson at 5:06 PM on March 8, 2006

Try using a AAA office for any car title issues. In California, you can do it all in one of their offices, and it's so not like visiting a DMV-style Land of the Dead.
posted by frogan at 5:21 PM on March 8, 2006

they should've sent you a clear title but for some reason they didn't and now unfortunately it sounds like you have to take care of it.

also, i don't know if the DMV is going to just accept the title as is and issue you a new clear. did they send you a letter saying that the debt is now paid in full and the title is clear? from the DMV's point of view, you could've gotten that title through "other means" and now are trying to get a clear title.

you might have to prove to the DMV that the debt is indeed clear, maybe a letter from the bank...or call them up and complain and tell them that the DMV won't accept the title they sent you and that they're the one's who need to send you the clear title.

good luck!
posted by eatcake at 5:28 PM on March 8, 2006

Hmmm...I just paid off my car too and was wandering about this (I'm in NY, though.)

Check out the NJ DMV page regarding liens.

It sounds like telling the DMV that the lien has been satified is required, but reissuance of the title may be optional.
posted by bim at 5:53 PM on March 8, 2006

When I paid off my old car, I was told that the main benefit of registering your release of lien title is that you can get a copy if you lose yours. In this case, if you don't register the release of lien, the copy you would get would still show the bank as the lienholder, forcing you to jump through hoops to get them to sign the release again.

Should you end up selling/trading to a dealership this might not be a problem, but might cause Joe Public, should you sell to an individual, to walk away.

I'm in CO, by the way.
posted by dunderhead at 6:54 PM on March 8, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for all the replies. Based on everything above I'm going to play it safe and go get myself a clean title.
posted by jclovebrew at 7:47 PM on March 8, 2006

Varies by state. In Indiana, there is a spot on the title for "release of lien" that the bank just stamps. No need to apply for (and pay extra for) a title with no lienholder on it. Have never, ever had a problem selling or trading in a car with a title so marked. Call your DMV and find out what the law is in your state.
posted by AstroGuy at 8:29 PM on March 8, 2006

If you're anywhere near Englewood, the DMV there is worth an hour's drive out of your way, especially on a weekday morning. It was actually pleasant the three times I had to go there.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:56 PM on March 8, 2006

« Older It's called couch-surfing, not...   |   My first trip to Europe! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.