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Auto Dealer Services Division

Auto Dealer Services Division > Title In Mind Title In Mind

When you buy a vehicle, chances are you take a look at all the features, accessories, bells and whistles.

But along with a leather interior, a moon roof and that rear view backup camera you’ve always wanted, make sure a valid title is also on your checklist.

When you buy an automobile, you have a right to your title in a timely manner.

Buying a car involves many steps and can be exciting — and overwhelming. But one step you simply can’t skip is securing your new car’s title from the dealer.

State law requires the dealer to deliver your title to you within 21 days of purchase. You need to receive your title within the legal window to guarantee you have time to get your car’s license plates within the standard 31-day period allowed by law.

Don’t have your title? We can help.

How to Claim Your Title

If you do not receive your title within 21 days, there are steps you should take to ensure you receive your title.

1. Write a letter to the dealer and demand delivery of the title. After receipt of your written demand, the dealer has 10 days to provide the title or reverse the deal.

2. If the dealer still does not provide you with the title in those 10 days, you can do one of two things:

1) Return the vehicle in the same or similar condition as it was when purchased. The dealer is then required to provide you with a refund of the purchase price plus tax, finance expenses, insurance expenses and any other fees you paid to the dealer.
2) Call the Office of the Indiana Secretary of State’s Dealer Services Division at 317.234.7190. The team will help you file a complaint and start the process of obtaining your title.  Fill out and submit a complaint form.

If you don’t receive your title to which you’re entitled, the worst thing you can do is nothing. If you cease making payments, you may forfeit your legal right to return the vehicle or secure a new title. This should never be considered an option. Obtain legal advice before stopping payments or continuing to drive a vehicle without a title.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a vehicle title?
A vehicle title (also known as a car title or pink slip; or “pinks” in the plural) is a legal document, establishing a person or business as the legal owner of a vehicle. Vehicle titles are issued by the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).

When should I be provided the title for my vehicle?
Indiana Code § 9-17-3-3 generally requires a dealer to issue a title to the purchaser at the time of the sale. Under certain circumstances, the dealer may have up to 21 days to deliver a title; however, the burden is on the dealer to show the underlying transaction qualified for this limited exception.

What should I do if I don’t receive a valid certificate of title within the 21 days?
If your dealer does not provide your title within 21 days, you have the right to return the vehicle to the vehicle dealer. You must provide the vehicle dealer written notice demanding delivery of a valid certificate of title in 10 days. If the dealer doesn’t comply, you can return the vehicle to the dealer in the same or similar condition as when it was purchased — and the vehicle dealer will be required to repay you the purchase price plus tax, finance expenses, insurance expenses and any other costs paid to the vehicle dealer.

I purchased a car with a lien on the title. What does this mean?
If there is a lien present on the previous owner’s certificate of title, it is the responsibility of the seller to satisfy the lien and obtain a release from a third-party lienholder in a timely manner. A third-party lienholder should deliver the certificate of title to the dealer within 10 business days of satisfaction of the title claim.

I didn’t buy my car from a dealer — I purchased from an individual owner. It’s been more than 21 days and I still don’t have my title. Can you help?
Unfortunately, the Office of the Indiana Secretary of State only has jurisdiction over dealerships, including buy-here-pay-here establishments. We are unable to take actions against consumer vehicle sellers. However, both the BMV and the Office of the Indiana Attorney General have resources to help in these situations. These resources can be found at www.in.gov/bmv or www.in.gov/attorneygeneral.

If I still haven’t received my title, can I stop making payments?
No. If you cease making payments, you may forfeit your legal right to return the vehicle or secure a new title. This should never be considered an option.

Do title delivery regulations only apply to passenger cars?
No. Although cars and passenger trucks are most commonly involved in non-delivery of title incidents, boats and RVs are also protected under our state regulations.

What if I traded in my car for a new one and the dealer closes its doors without providing my title?
While most dealers provide vehicle titles quickly in a turn-key process, title transfers may be delayed if a dealership goes out of business. Call the Dealer Services Division for help.

What is a bonded title?
If a vehicle owner has no documentation of ownership during the titling process, a bonded title is created. The bond serves as a guarantee of title and remains in effect for three years, or until the vehicle is no longer registered in Indiana.

Sources: BBB.com, Carfax.com, IndianaConsumer.com

File a Complaint

If you purchased your vehicle from a dealership in Indiana, the Dealer Services Division can help you get your title.

Click here to file a complaint.

The Office of the Indiana Secretary of State’s Dealer Services Division offers many resources to help obtain your title.
If you have any questions please Contact Us