California Vehicle Title Search

Name Phone Number License Plate VIN
Name Phone Number License Plate VIN

How To Run A California Vehicle Title Search

A California vehicle title search is an easy online process that is typically run on used vehicle to find out if there the vehicle title is clean and there are no lien holders still on the title. CA vehicle title searches are often times part of a vehicle history report where you can also find out the history of the used vehicle including accidents, recalls and previous owner information. The intent for most people that run these types of reports are to uncover any potential issues when purchasing a used car, truck, SUV, or motorcycle. It’s a best practice procedure that only cost a few bucks, but it can uncover any issues that might not be known or disclosed by the previous vehicle owner. If there is a lien holder on a vehicle or the title is salvaged, it might be very difficult to register the vehicle with the California DMV as well as getting the title information transferred over to the new owner’s name. To begin your CA vehicle title search and verification, you will need the full vehicle identification number but you can also use the license plate number as well. Then you’ll enter the information into the search fields of and begin. The next step is to verify your results and make sure that the make and model match, one misplaced character can bring up a completely different vehicle. Next, you’ll select the vehicle history report which will cost a few bucks and then you’ll have access to all the vehicle title information that is available.

Information Included on a California Vehicle Title

  1. The owner’s name and address
  2. The vehicle’s year, make and model
  3. The date the vehicle was first sold
  4. California vehicle title status
  5. Vehicle identification number
  6. Odometer information, and if it’s accurate
  7. License plate number
  8. California vehicle title issue date
  9. Release of Interest section at the bottom of the title

Issues To Look Out For on a California Vehicle Title

There are certain items that should be reviewed carefully on a California Vehicle Title if you are looking to verify a used vehicle you want to purchase. An issue with a CA vehicle title can lead to a real headache if you don’t verify them before buying a used car, truck, SUV or motorcycle. Title issues are not always obvious when looking at a vehicle but they can dramatically bring down the value of a vehicle, or make it very difficult to transfer the used vehicle into your name. Some of the issues to look out for are:

  1. Title Branding: If the vehicle you want to purchase says junked, salvaged, rebuilt, flood damaged, or lemon law recall, you may want to reconsider the purchase price of the vehicle or just walk away completely. These title brand issues mean that the vehicle had been damaged or there were significant issues that made it not drivable at some point. There could have been a major accident or it could have been involved in a natural disaster such as a flood. This can dramatically affect the value of the used vehicle you want to purchase
  2. Title Ownership: You want to make sure that the seller of the vehicle is indeed the owner or you may have difficulties transferring the title into your name or registering it in the state of California. You can simply ask the seller to see their ID to confirm the ownership information on the title.
  3. Lien Holder Information: If the title says there is a lien holder or the seller does not actually possess the title of the used vehicle that is a big red flag. If there is a lien holder that usually means the bank still technically owns the vehicle and you will not be able to transfer the title into your name until the bank loan is paid off. Make sure to review this carefully as purchasing a vehicle without a title can lead to significant hurdles when you try to register and transfer it into your name.
  4. Check The VIN: The vehicle identification number (VIN) should be verified so that both the VIN on the title and the physical VIN that is stamped on the vehicle match. If they don’t match then you may be purchasing a stolen vehicle. There are a lot of scams out there and many stolen vehicles sold each year. According to the Insurance Information Institute, there were over 1 million stolen vehicles in the United States in 2022. You can also check with the National Insurance Crime Bureau to find out if a vehicle was stolen with a simple VIN check. You can be out a lot of money if you purchase a stolen vehicle and often times, there is little recourse.
  5. Odometer Verification: Make sure that on the CA vehicle title that the odometer reading says it’s accurate. If it says anything other than that then you really have no idea how many miles are on that vehicle or if it has something else wrong with it.

These are important items to verify before purchasing a used vehicle in the state of California that can save you a lot of money and headache. If the seller does not have the title or it’s lost then you may consider walking away from the deal or ask them to request for a duplicate copy from the California DMV before making your purchase. Running through this check-list is a best-practice procedure before buying any used SUV, car, truck, motorcycle or Motorhome.

California Vehicle Title

How to Transfer a California Vehicle Title

The transfer of a California vehicle title is very simple if you have the physical title in your possession. The previous owner will sign the bottom of the title, as well as the new owner. The purchase price and date of the vehicle must be included as well as the mileage and the “Release of Interest” section that should be mailed in by the previous owner. The Release of Interest, aka The Release of Liability, can also be filled out online through the California DMV website. This is a very important step because if there is an accident or a situation the vehicle is involved in and the release of liability form was not sent in, it will leave the previous owner open for getting sued or being liable for any damages that were incurred. Another good procedure when transferring the California vehicle title is to have a bill of sale and to also make sure to have the condition of the vehicle listed on both the title and bill of sale. Most of the time that a vehicle is sold, especially without an existing warranty, the vehicle condition will be listed “As-Is” which means that what you see is what you get and there are no guarantees by the original owner.

Car Owner Search

How to Get a Duplicate California Vehicle Title

If you visit the DMV website and you select the “Vehicle Registration” tab, you will select the “Application For a Duplicate Title” form (# Reg227). You can download the form in a PDF format, fill out the form with your full name and address as it’s listed on your registration, your driver’s license number and any additional information you have. Then you can mail in the duplicate vehicle title form to the California DMV with the appropriate fee for the duplicate title. Please note that when you apply for a duplicate California vehicle title, the original title is cancelled and null and void. Processing may take a few weeks and your duplicate CA vehicle title will be mailed to the address listed on file unless you request to have it sent to another address

Vehicle Title Lookup By State

California Vehicle Title Search - FAQs

Can I run a free California vehicle title search?

It will usually cost you around $20 to run a California vehicle title search and vehicle history report on a used car, truck, SUV or motorcycle. You will need to have your vehicle's 17 digit vehicle identification number to run a CA vehicle title search.

Can I buy a vehicle without a title in California?

You can but there are risks with doing so. It's always a good idea to verify the title information on a used vehicle before buying it as there can be major issues that can lead to you not being able to register it or transfer the title into your name

Can I transfer a vehicle title into my name that is abandoned in California?

Yes, it is possible to transfer an abandoned vehicle that is on your property into your name but you will need to first report it as abandoned and make a clear attempt to contact the previous owner before doing so. You should start by contacting the California DMV directly to inquire what is necessary to do this

How long does it take to receive my California car title?

After all the necessary forms and fees have been submitted, it typically takes the California DMV between 4 to 6 weeks to process the paperwork and send the new car title via mail.

What are salvage titles in California?

A salvage title is issued for a vehicle when it has been significantly damaged or totaled, typically from an accident, flood, or other natural disaster. Salvage vehicles can be sold, but the salvage title brand lets potential buyers that the vehicle has been significantly damaged in the past.

What should I do if I lost my California car title?

If your car title is lost or damaged, you can apply for a duplicate title from the California DMV. You must fill out a form for a duplicate title, pay the necessary fee, and submit the application. A copy will be mailed to the address registered on the

How do I obtain a title for my car in California?

To get a title for your car, you must submit an application to the California DMV directly. The application must include a vehicle identification number, proof of ownership, and any other relevant documentation such as a bill of sale

Can I sell a car in California without a title?

Possibly, depending on the documentation you have. You typically need a car title in California to sell it. Itu2019s easy to get a duplicate title if you have lost your original by contacting the DMV directly.

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Responses to “California Vehicle Title Search

  1. says:

    I need to have proof of a vehicle owners ownership to settle an insurance claim

  2. says:

    I purchased an suv new from dealer VIN: KM8S7DA27NU056640 in California and need the registration document to register it in Arizona

  3. says:

    Justin, unfortunately this is a DMV issue that you’ll need to resolve with them unless you can get ahold of this guy that sold you the trailer

  4. says:

    How can I get either a duplicate or lost title on this 3X5 trailer that I purchased from this guy who moved from Cali to Wyoming. He claimed that I didn’t need the title. He also said that he got it from his aunt that got it from his Grandmother who passed. Well she did send him something on the trailer but it wasn’t the title. I did get him to write a bill of sale the day I got it. I know, Lesson Learned right? I tried to get a lost title here in Wyoming, but the DMV here doesn’t do that. It’s been over 2 months now trying to deal with this guy. Yeah, I could be out the $400 that I spent, but this guy is getting shady now. I did Google his aunt, she is real but the number is old, so I am unable to contact her. So what I would need is to find out if there is a way of getting a duplicate or lost tile from Cali so I can legally own the trailer.

  5. says:

    I recently purchased a Vehicle that looks like it may have been title washed. The whole purpose of washing is so issues do not show up on a search by the usual commercial providers. We need to see actual title history by title number to see if the branding was changed.

  6. says:

    Kevin, in California it is possible to register and transfer the title of a vehicle without the title as long as you have the bill of sale. You will want to confirm the details of this sale with your local DMV before purchasing in case they need additional documentation from the seller. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance with your California truck title needs

  7. says:

    I am looking to purchase a 1964 Chevy C10 pickup truck. It has no motor or transmission. The seller said he would provide a Bill of Sale as he said, “it is out of DMV Records”.
    Can I register the truck using only a Bill of Sale that the seller provides me? I understand he never owned the truck. He bought it and is no reselling it.
    Thank you,

  8. says:

    Lance, our California car title lookup only works on newer cars with 17 digits in their vehicle identification number

  9. says:

    I am trying to get registration info to license an old Ford Mustang. It has not been registered in years. 1966 Ford Mustang. License number RWW060 Vin # 6R07A165659. Any information is appreciated. Registered to Catherine Younger 1181 Fulton Ave #29, Sacramento, Ca. She still owns the vehicle in storage since it was stolen and recovered years ago. I am inquiring on behalf of Catherine Younger. Thank You Lance Howard

  10. says:

    Karen, you’ll need to contact the California DMV directly about your CA title mistake and have the VIN on the title corrected.

  11. says:

    I work at a dealership. We purchased a vehicle with a California title. The vehicle is a 2006 Chevy pk, but the title is incorrect and shows it is a 2008. The vin# is..1GCHC23D86F256350. We are in Texas, how can I get this corrected so the DMV here will accept the title.
    thank you.

  12. says:

    Steven, our California car title resources only accommodate vehicles with 17 digit VINs. You can reach out to your local California DMV to inquire about obtaining a vehicle history report on this vintage California car

  13. says:

    I have a 1960’s or 1970’s Volkswagon Bus with a a 10 digit VIN. Can a California Vehicle Title Search be done on it? (It has expired 1975 California license plates.

  14. says:

    Yuchi, try running a California vehicle history report on this Chevrolet Corvette to find out more information. It’s peculiar that there are 2 different VIN numbers listed for the vehicle

  15. says:


    I live in Japan and own a Corvette C3 imported from the US.

    My English is not very good.

    The VIN on the plate on the pillar of the car is 194379S737315.
    I looked it up and found that the vehicle has been smog checked in California on July 18, 1997.

    However, the vehicle has a frame VIN 194371S108809 February 4, 1971. The exterior and interior are also 1971, so the pillar plates may be from another vehicle. I am not sure if the rivets are original either.

    If they are illegal, some people might be sad to see this car go.
    I am thinking that it may have been obtained illegally from the previous owner.

    I love the car, but if there are people who will be sad to lose this car, that is hard for me.

    I am waiting for your reply.


  16. says:

    If your California vehicle has a VIN that is shorter than 17 digits then we will not be able to run this for you unfortunately. You might want to contact your local California DMV office to inquire about the vehicle identification information you’re interested in.

  17. says:

    what if the vin is a shorter in because the car is from the 50s

  18. says:

    Maureen, the bill of sale is not always need when transferring the title of a motorcycle or vehicle. A good place to find out exactly what you need is your local California DMV. You can visit an office or try reaching them by phone, there is usually a long waiting time for this option. Here is a link to our Free California DMV Finder to assist you with finding the closest DMV to your location

  19. says:

    I am trying to transfer (gift) deceased husband’s motorcycle. I provided the DMV with the required forms (death certifcate, etc) to put the vehicle in my name. They gave me a PNO-reg deferred receipt. The bill of sale is lost.

    What do I need to do to get the “bill of sale” and transfer to the new owner? Do I need to pay full registration as an operational vehicle before transferring? that does not make sense as the new owner will have to pay registration fees again.

  20. says:

    My brother recently passed away and I cannot find the title to his truck in order to transfer ownership. How do I request a duplicate title?

  21. says:

    I owned a Model A between 1980 and 1987 or so (In California of course). Sadly, I had to sell the car. I was hoping there would be a way to retrieve the cars VIN, in order to trace is whereabouts. The only info I have is my name and the Calif plate number from 1981. Is there any hope?

  22. says:

    Hello I have a car that was originally from California and is now in Ontario Canada. Is it possible to find out the history of who previously owned the car.

    This car is a 65 GTO

  23. says:

    I am looking for the pink slip for my deceased father’s 1951 Jeep Willy’s Overland. My sister threw out the pink and the Willy’s Overland has not been registered in years. Can any body help me with find who owner the Jeep that my father has stored over the years.

  24. says:

    Gregg, unfortunately we will not be able to obtain that California car title information with a VIN that is less than 17 digits. You might want to reach out to the California DMV directly about your inquiry

  25. says:

    Trying to see if my 1939 chevy 2 door sedan is still in California. The Vin number when I sold in kansas is NEBR001421. Can you help

  26. says:

    i am trying to get the license plate that came with this van I had the plates changed some time ago and know I need to find out what was the old plate numbers.

  27. says:

    Keith, you will want to contact the California DMV directly about your inquiry. Unfortunately we cannot weigh in on this vehicle as our car title search resources will only be able to access information about vehicles that have 17 digits in their vehicle identification number

  28. says:

    Hi, I was wonder buy a 1974 Ford PK classic from someone carfax unable to check history VIN F1DGRU63481 plate number 69978X . I wondering if this car is legal?

  29. says:

    Lori, in this situation it’s best to contact your local California DMV directly about what to do. There is most likely a procedure and a precedence for this situation. You might want to contact them before making this RV purchase

  30. says:

    In buying a RV the current owner (has pink slip) but not in his name as he never tranferred it and the current reg is not current and isnt the same name as the pink slip/// how should I proceed and what will it require for me to get all paperwork right??? I have bill of sale and out dated reg. and pink slip.??? Thanks

  31. says:

    Peter, you can run a vehicle history report through our system if your Chevy truck has a 17 digit vehicle identification number. You will need read through our terms of search first and then you have the option to run a California vehicle history report for a nominal fee.

  32. says:

    Trying to track any information about my 1957 Chevrolet truck.
    I can provide serial/chassis number if required
    It was built at Los Angeles plant, but that’s about as much as I know about it.
    Probably a long shot, but worth a try, thanks in advance

  33. says:

    John, how may we assist you with your California vehicle title search?

  34. says:

    checking history of vehicle,1979 dodge dart swinger when purchased to where it landed later in life

  35. says:

    Mitsi, that is a very old vintage California vehicle and unfortunately we only have records that go back for the last 30 years. You can contact the California DMV directly about your inquiry. They should be able to better assist you

  36. says:

    I have a California title for a 1950 HD and California put in the Vehicle ID Number as a 8 digit number. Can you explain what that number is? To my understanding this was a police motorcycle back in the day. It has the motorcycle engine number on it also. Back in 1950 the engine number was the vin number.

  37. says:

    Darren, you need to contact the California DMV directly about the status of your CA trailer title

  38. says:

    I need my title you have not sent it why?

  39. says:

    Carlos, you will need to contact the motor vehicle department in Mexico if it was titled and registered there. Unfortunately our resources can only assist you with looking up a California car title

  40. says:

    I purchased a vehicle without the title in tijuana Mexico. How can i get a copy title for export only.

  41. says:

    Herberto, you can obtain a duplicate California car title by contacting the California DMV. You can also visit their website and order a duplicate title online through their web portal. You will need to register for an account and then fill out the forms to get a duplicate CA car title. There will be a nominal fee and a copy can be mailed to you

  42. says:

    Hi, i purchase a Toyota Avalon 2000, whichs was imported to Tijuana, Mexico. For getting new plates i. MÉXICO, transportation authorities(like DMV) are asking me to show the Certificate of Title, which I do not have. Is it possible a duplicate because the original is lost

  43. says:

    Enes, this is not an uncommon situation where the vehicle title was lost or the vehicle title was never received. You will want to contact the California DMV directly about this situation and fill out the forms to obtain a duplicate California vehicle title and you will also need to present your bill of sale and any other information that proves you purchased this vehicle. Also be prepared to fill our an affidavit which is a legal binding document that you legally purchased this vehicle from the previous owner.

  44. says:

    Hi. I purchased a vehicle in the state of Wisconsin from the owner.
    She never did title the vehicle when she moved to from California. I am having troubles reaching her. How can I obtain the title from California.

    Please help

Last Updated: 2020-09-02

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