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Tips on Buying Cars/title transfer/registration


My father gave me a car 3 years ago.  I flew from MI to AZ to get the car and drive it home.  While i was there we went to dmv to transfer car into my name, but they told us the title was still in OR, so we were unable to do it at time.  SO i drove home with his plates and waited for title.  Well three years later I still have no title and car is not drivable because of expired plates.  I have no clue why he has not gotten title to me, i have checked to see if there is lein and there is not.  What can i do???  Apply for lost title? can i register it with no title?  I just dont know what to do?  For three years i have heard every story in the book and still being promised he will get it taken care of.  I have no faith.  SO  I live in MI, car is here with me and apparently title is in Oregon, whatever that means.  Any suggestions?  I couldnt even scrap the thing if  i wanted!

Hi Lori,

I HATE title issues ...seriously they make my eyes glaze over and my head to throb. Before I get to the answers I have for you let me interject a quick thought on behalf of well meaning loving fathers everywhere. We aren't perfect ... title issues are no less confounding to us as they are to you. I have a title clerk who lives to solve problems like these (and then chastise whoever the guilty party is mercilessly) so don't be too hard on him because his heart was obviously in the right place.

Now what to do...there are two ways to go about getting this wrapped up and the car titled to you: The right way and the easy way ...and they are not the same. lol

The right way says to call oregon dmv at 503-299-9999 and give them the VIN number or preferably the plate number ...oregon dmv is the best and you will not have to wait to get thru to a real person...tell them your story (leave out the AZ part) "my dad gave me this car and he said it still has an oregon title but we can't find it so what do I do?" They will ask you your dads name and you tell them and say "I don't know who he bought it from but it's possible that it's still in their name" ...they will tell you if it is or isn't ...if it isn't then you will need to go to their website and download the form (or do this with the ladt or man on the phone or online) and pay something like $4.00 for them to disclose the registered owners name and address to you ...the DMV people will tell you what to do from there but it will include getting them to sign off on the car

The easy way would be to go to the Michigan DMV website and print out a packet to file a 'possessory lien" or "mechanics lien" against the car ... then wait for 30 days and issue yourself a 'certificate of lien foreclosure" which you take with a title and registration application down to your local DMV and register the car in your name and then wait for a couple of weeks to get the title from DMV. The certificate of Lien foreclosure will establish your ownership of the car (this is how tow companies get titles to the cars they tow and impound and the owner refuses to pay them all of their fees etc.'s also how a mechanic who did a bunch of work on your car gets title from an unpaying customer. There are companies who will do the relatively minor paperwork for you for 55-75.00 ... No worrying about tracking down the previous owners, no talking to oregon dmv no nothing.

My email address is and you will want to contact me if you decide to do it the easy way for a few pointers on expediting this process ... you are also more than welcome to ask me as many follow up questions as you want until you are 100% satisfied with the answers and can give me a perfect rating,,,

I look forward to hearing from you to help you finish getting this wrapped up


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Roger Alvey


I can answer any question about the car buying process. I am a recognized industry expert on all issues regarding auto finance, including sub prime and buy here pay here financing, I can answer questions about car lock out systems, GPS monitoring by your bank, and about auto recovery methods and defenses. I am a 20 yr car industry expert and can tell you what to look for in a used car, how to negotiate the deal, help with how to market your own car, and how to negotiate with the internet department of any car store. I can tell you every single way the dealer is set up to beat you and how to avoid those traps, I can discuss all aftermarket and extended service contract products you will be offered in the finance process, I have lectured extensively on "The Best Way to Buy a Car" to civic groups and university students. I am a credit expert and can tell you what the dealer and banks are looking for and the rate you can expect to pay. HERE IS THE LINK TO MY OTHER ALLEXPERTS CATEGORIES WHERE I HAVE ANSWERED LOTS OF QUESTIONS HERE IS A LINK TO MY BLOG


20 years industry experience in top management of dealerships and dealer groups. Recognized industry expert since 2004 in the Top 10 industry experts for The Gerson Lehrman Groups Auto Industry Council. I also do consulting work for Atheneum Partners, Expert 360, Expert Connect and Coleman Research. I have been a franchise owner and understand all facets of the auto industry from the time the car leaves the factory until it leaves the lot with it's new owner. I have written training materials for both the prime and the subprime sales and finance process.

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Willamette University - Salem Oregon BA Economics Willamette University Graduate School of Business - Econometrics Statistics

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