How to Obtain a Title to a Vehicle When the Car Dealership Closes

by La Vera Frazier
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With the recent economic downturn many businesses, including car dealerships, have been forced to close their doors. Some car dealerships, especially used car dealerships, double as their own financing company, and offer "buy here, pay here" programs. The dealership holds the car's title until the car loan has been paid in full. If not, the car title gives the dealership the right to reposes the property. However, if you purchased your car from a dealership that closed down before you could repay the car loan, you may need to request a duplicate copy from your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office.

Step 1

Take care of any outstanding issues concerning the car (for example, parking tickets and insurance) before contacting the DMV.

Step 2

Contact the DMV in the state in which the car was purchased. Some states will only issue car titles to vehicles that are physically in the state. For example, if you bought the car in South Carolina and then took the car to California, South Carolina will only issue you the car title when the car is physically back in South Carolina. In a case like this, you can apply for a new title and registry in your new state.

Step 3

Obtain an Application for Certificate of Title/Registration. This form may vary from state to state. For example, in South Carolina, this application is known as Form 400 and is issued by the DMV. However, in Ohio the application is issued by the County Clerk's Office. Additionally, some states may offer an electronic version of this form that can be submitted online. Any fees applied may also vary depending on the state. For example, the title fee in South Carolina is $15 (as of September 2010).

Step 4

Return your application to the DMV. Some states will allow you to fax in the form others may require that you return the application to the office. Check with the DMV office for instruction on how and where to submit the application. Every DMV office has its own processing rate; however, you can expect to receive your new title in the mail within seven to 14 business days.

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