Is it bad to buy a motorcycle without a title?

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Today, thousands of people around the globe will purchase a motorcycle. In the United States, there are approximately eight million motorcycles. People love to upgrade and/or sell motorcycles especially in winter.

Buying a motorcycle can bit a little intimidating, especially if you’ve never done it before. One thing that’s often heard is to never purchase a motorcycle without a title to go with it.

Is it wrong to buy a motorbike without a title? A title is a legal document that establishes the owner of the motorcycle. It is not recommended to buy a motorcycle without one. A title is a legal form that establishes ownership of the motorcycle. Without this evidence, you could end up with a stolen motorcycle or a bike that has a lien.

There are many people out there who will try to take your money, and they will do whatever it takes to do so. I have purchased over twelve motorcycles in the last few years and have been able to gain an idea of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to purchasing a motorcycle and ensuring no future title issues.

The risks associated with buying an untitled motorcycle

You may find your dream motorcycle while browsing the web. You look at the posting and love everything you are reading about the bike but notice the seller doesn’t say anything about a title or states they don’t have one at all. But it’s for such a good price, it might be worth the hassle, right?

I’m sure there are many people who will sell a motorcycle without a title just because it was lost. it’s always a good rule of thumb to never to buy a motorcycle without a title. Even if it’s selling for a screaming good deal. Trust me, it’s happened to me many times and I almost did it.

You may face the following major problems when purchasing an untitled motorcycle: You’ll have to think of this one logically: any Joe Schmoe could find some motorcycle in a parking lot, load it up in their truck, take it home, and post it for sale stating they simply lost the title. The poor buyer buys into their lie, purchases the motorcycle, and goes to register it only to find that it’s stolen.

In this case, you will likely have to give the motorcycle back to the original owner that the motorcycle was stolen from and you’re completely out the money you just paid for it. The DMV or state doesn’t care that you just paid hundreds or thousands of dollars to buy it. It was taken from someone. They just need it back.

Another problem you might face when buying untitled motorcycles is that they could still have a lien.It means that there is still a balance owing against the motorcycle. If you’re caught in this situation, either you will be held liable to pay the remaining balance of the debt owed if you wish to own the motorcycle or your simply get it repossessed which means you’re out the money you just paid for the motorcycle.

Let me tell you a story. A good friend of mine in college decided that he wanted to ride a motorcycle. He bought a motorcycle for the first time and didn’t really know what to look for. The guy he bought the motorcycle from reported he had a title but didn’t have it with him and he “promised” He would send it to me in a few days.

He was not mailed the title for a few days. My friend tried several times to contact the seller, but received no response. My friend registered his motorcycle and discovered that it still had a lien for several hundred dollars.

My friend had already spent over $1,000 on the motorcycle, and now he needed to spend several hundred more to own it. Not only that, the motorcycle ended up having multiple mechanical problems that he simply couldn’t fix. After paying several hundred dollars to DMV to purchase it, he ended up selling it to a friend for $200 due to its mechanical problems.

A motorcycle without a title is a costly mistake that can lead to financial ruin and frustration. Always be safe and buy a motorcycle with a title.

How to Title a Motorcycle

Although it is easy to obtain a title for your motorcycle, it can take some time. While each state may have its own fees and procedures, most follow the same rules.

Bring your bill of sale and the title the seller gave to you when you visit the DMV. A new title application will be required to indicate all information that will appear on your title. Within a few weeks, your title will arrive in the mail after you have paid all fees and taxes. You should be able get plates and registration the same day.

If you borrowed money to buy the motorcycle, it is slightly different. You will not get the title under your name, rather the title will be under the bank’s name since they are technically the official owner of the motorcycle. The DMV will work with you and contact the bank to get the title under the bank’s name.

You will only need to complete a form if you purchased a motorcycle without a title. “lost title” You will also receive the bill of sale from the DMV.

The DMV will do a VIN inspection on the motorcycle to make sure it isn’t stolen or still has a lien on it. After the VIN inspection is complete, a title under your name will be issued and mailed to you within weeks. The DMV will inform you if there are any issues with your title on the day that you fill out the application.

Exceptions to Buying a Motorcycle Without a Title

One exception is buying a motorcycle that doesn’t have a title. Sometimes, the situation demands it. This exception applies in most cases. “barn finds,” meaning you have come across an abandoned motorcycle that’s probably pretty old and the owner is nowhere to be found nor is it possible to find them.

If you have fallen upon this case, there are still a few steps you can take to ensure you won’t run into issues. You can move forward with the transaction if you have done everything possible to locate the original owner.

The first thing you’ll need to do is get a VIN inspection on the motorcycle. You’ll probably need to take it in to your local DMV and have them visually inspect the VIN themselves, or, if it’s your lucky day you may have a police officer come out to where you are and inspect the VIN themselves. Sometimes if you casually mention to the police over the phone of the rare find you’ve found and they happen to be a motorcycle enthusiast, they’ll come out.

Once the VIN is inspected and cleared of any theft, there are no liens and you can purchase the motorcycle.

Tips for Buying a Motorcycle Safely

These tips will help make your purchase more legal and save you from future headaches.

First, you’ll obviously need to make an appointment with the seller to go see the motorcycle. Ask the seller to not “warm up” You can test the motorcycle before you arrive so that you can observe how it reacts to cold starts.

If possible, please wait 24 hours before you buy the bike It can be difficult to buy a motorcycle. Give yourself some time to consider it and make the right decision. This is especially important if you’ve looked at several motorcycles before making a decision.

Make sure that you have both the seller and you sign a bill. A bill of sale identifies the seller, their contact information and the details of the motorcycle. It also reveals how much it cost.

Although it may seem informal, a bill is actually a legal document the DMV requires to register the motorcycle and titling it under your name. In the event of any future issues, the bill of sale will provide evidence that the sale took place. The following is an example of a bill de sale:


Seller’s name and address:

Buyer’s name and address:

Make, model, year, and year of motorcycle:

VIN for Motorcycles:



Seller’ signature:

Buyer’s signature:

If the seller has receipts or maintenance paperwork, you can request them. This will provide a good indicator of how well the owner has taken care of the motorcycle. If the motorcycle hasn’t been registered in their name for a while or they never registered it at all, that can present some questions on your part that would otherwise not have been answered.

For more information on buying a used motorcycle, see my article here.

Similar Questions

Is it against the law to sell a motorcycle if there is no title? It is illegal in most states to sell any vehicle without a title. Even if the state does not require a title, the seller must still present a title to the buyer.

How do you know if your motorcycle was in an accident? You should look out for wobbly or bent handle bars, bent frames, crankcase scratches and a strange sensation while riding your motorcycle if you suspect it has been in an incident. Click here for more information.

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