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Bumpers and Big Tires – But No Title – Now What?

Finding a great off-roading project in a salvage lot or hidden in some backroads barn can be an exciting moment. For the enthusiast who is handy with tools and enjoys the challenge of working on projects from the ground up, this offers an affordable way to build a dedicated Jeep or truck for the trails.

After assessing the condition of the truck, some may have grander visions of an awesome off-road truck all decked out with tires, struts, and off-road steel bumpersWait – does it have a title? If not, then what happens?

No Title – Now What?

Many times the whole reason why that gem of an off-road project has been sitting for so long is because somewhere along the line, the title was lost. While that doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker, most people either won’t go through the trouble to try to locate it or don’t know any other available options. The good news is that with a little time and effort, most of these discarded trucks can be retitled with what is called a bonded title.

What Is A Bonded Title?

A bonded title is one that is issued when reasonable attempts to locate a current title come up empty and the buyer is willing to accept instead a replacement certificate. Bonded titles provide legal proof of ownership in the absence of an actual title. To get one, all a buyer needs to do is confirm the VIN number, then apply for the certificate. Of course, accomplishing that in some cases may be easier said than done! The buyer then purchases a bond to insure against a previous owner coming forward with a title to re-claim the truck.

How to Apply for A Bonded Title

Before applying for a bonded title, certain steps will need to be completed.

—– VIN Verification – The vehicle must be inspected at an inspection shop so the VIN numbers can be verified. Buyers should then search their state’s stolen vehicle database to ensure they are not buying someone else’s stolen property.

—– Apply For Bonded Title – After verifying the VIN, buyers can fill out an application for a bonded title at their local DMV. The VIN previously verified must be included as well as an affidavit of how they came to purchase the vehicle and any other known details about its history.

—– Title Search – Once the application and any required fees are submitted, the motor vehicle department will conduct a title history search to see if they find any current or previous owners noted.

—– Attempt Owner Contact – If any names come up as current owners, buyers must attempt to contact such owners via certified mail to inquire about the truck.

—– Bonded Title Issued – If no current owners are found or there is no response to contact attempts, the bonded title can be issued based on the unsuccessful attempts to reach an owner.

At that point, the buyer becomes the legal owner of the vehicle with a bond to protect their interest should a previous owner come forward. As long as  attempts to reach an owner are made according to DMV specifications, owners who can no longer be located cannot reclaim your off-road truck. Requirements for applying for a bonded title may differ from state to state, so use this only as a guide.

So if you’ve been eyeing an old Jeep or truck that’s been sitting out in a field or tucked away and forgotten in an old barn somewhere for years, don’t give up hope. With a bit of patience and going through the right channels, you could be rehabbing an old truck with big tires and steel truck bumpers that could make it a great off-road project truck. Find those VIN numbers, start doing the research, and you could end up with a great truck for hitting the trails on the weekends!

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