By: Gov Auctions | 7 February 2014

Clean Titles: How Do I Get Clear Title At A Car Auction?

The title for the vehicle is usually provided to the successful purchaser at the time of settlement. Typically at the car auction the successful bidder pays a deposit and then has up to 2 days to pay the balance. At the time of payment the purchaser is given all the necessary documents to complete and is also given a receipt for payment which, all up, guarantees clean title. Upon final payment the purchaser is given the registration papers to prove that the vehicle is theirs.

Before an auto auction there is an obligation on the auction company to disclose the status of the title for each vehicle. Titles are usually held by the auction facility on the day of auction and are immediately transferrable to the successful bidder. However, typically an auction company will have up to 30 days to provide the purchaser with the title (this may take a few days if the auction company are dealing with an interstate bank for example). If, in the unlikely event that the auction company cannot obtain the title, then they will fully refund any money paid to them for the vehicle (deposit, auction fee, document fee). Therefore, the buyer is fully protected in that regard (but they are not protected for any money spent on the vehicle prior to the purchaser obtaining the title).

For titles for government seized vehicles, the process for these title transfers may vary from state to state. Typically the auction facility will hand the purchaser the title at the auction counter once auction payment is settled.  Then the purchaser takes the title and bill of sale document to the local court house to have the title transferred. Otherwise if the title was not with the vehicle when it was seized then a new title will be issued by the State.

We always recommend that buyers obtain an independent vehicle report, such as a Carfax or Autocheck report prior to purchasing a car at auction, as well as conducting a full inspection using a qualified mechanic. These should show up whether there is any dubious history of the car. Often the auction facility themselves will provide all the necessary reports to show the history of the vehicle and that clear title will be passed to the purchaser.

Happy bidding!