buying a car? what you need to know.
Are you purchasing a vehicle from a private seller?
Has the vehicle been reported stolen? You can check the TheftAZ website to find out! If the vehicle comes up stolen, do not take matters into your own hands! Politely decline the sale, walk away and contact law enforcement.
In most counties in Arizona, if the vehicle is older than 5 years it may require emissions. You can check the ADEQ website and enter the vehicles VIN to see if it requires emissions or if it has failed emissions recently!
Are you curious how much the vehicle will cost to put into your name? Adot explains how vehicle registration works with this chart that is quite helpful!
If all of the above check out, and you are ready to make the purchase, there is one more thing you should do before committing: Check the title!
Check the front of the title carefully, look at the VIN number (located at top of title) and odometer (usually around the middle). Does it look like the numbers have been altered or erased? Has there been a spill that has blurred the numbers? Does it look like different fonts have been used to type up different sections of the title? If you answered yes to any of these questions you should walk away from the sale. Altering vehicle titles is against the law, you will not beable to get the vehicle put into your name, you will lose money, and you may have to deal with the headache of dealing with the repercussions of an illegally altered title.
Make sure to check the BRANDS section (usually next to the odometer) on the front of the title as well! This is another section people like to try and erase off of a title. Also be aware that if it says SALVAGE or DISMANTLE you will NOT beable to legally drive this vehicle until you receive a level 2 or 3 inspection from the state.
Another important thing to look at is how the owner’s names are seperated on the title (if there is more than one owner on the vehicle). This will impact how the title will need to be signed off on the back.
If there is an “AND” separating the owner’s names then they will BOTH need to sign off on the back of the title. If one of the owners is deceased, then the vehicle may either have to go through Probate, the other owner may have to claim non-probate (can be done at any MVD office) and must get the vehicle in their name only first before being able to sell, or a Personal Representitive appointed by the court will have to sign off representing the deceased and must include either original or certified true and exact copies or the PR paperwork.
If “AND/OR” seperates the owners names, BOTH will have to sign off on the back of the title. Yes, it’s confusing because the “OR” is being used, and many people think that this means either owner can sign off, but this is not the case with “AND/OR”. The “OR” in this situation gives rights of survivorship meaning if one of the owners is deceased, only the surviving owner may sign off on the back of the title and must provide a certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased owner to show they have the right to sign off alone.
If the owner’s names are seperated by “OR” then there should be no issue on who signs off on the title. Either owner has full authority to sell the vehicle and only one will need to sign off on the back of the title.
At the bottom section of the title there is a Lienholder section. Either an individual or a business may be the lienholder of the vehicle. If a lien does appear in this section, either the bottom “LIEN RELEASE” section of the title must be filled out or a Notarized Lien Release with the vehicles information must be included with the title. One exception to this rule is if the lien is over 12 years old, it is then no longer valid (this applies to vehicles ONLY, not trailers, travel trailers, motor homes or mobile homes, and this rule also applies only to Arizona titles).
Then last but not least, check the back of the title. Arizona titles MUST be signed off by the owner(s) and notarized!!! No alterations or cross-outs may be made to the signatures or notary section, it will void out the title and a notarized ‘Bill of Sale’ will be needed. Make sure both signatures are present! We have seen many cases where the notary signs and forgets to make the seller sign, or where the notary will stamp the title and forget to sign! You WILL be turned away and be required to contact the seller if either one of these signatures are missing.
If everything looks good, and the VIN checks turned up nothing negative, then you can feel good about making this purchase! If you have any additional questions about the vehicle you’re looking at or you are still having doubts, give us a call! We will do what we can to help put your mind at ease.