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View Full Version : Bike without a title advice.... HELP!



BLUEGTC
12-06-2009, 03:21 AM
Hello,

I need some input... I've purchased a 1996 K1100LT with 26,000 miles from a dealer for $2600. The bike was bought from a salvage auction by the dealer and he said it was a simple process for him to bond the bike and get a salvage title. The bike is very clean and the only damage was the front tire rim was bent, the left mirror was missing and there were some scratches on the left side of the fairing($250 to repaint)...

I just received a call from the dealer and he said that he was unable to get a bonded title and that the DMV(North Carolina) said that he would have to go to the salvage yard(in Virginia) and have them apply for the title. He seems to think that the salvage yard won't go through the hassle of applying for the title(since they sold it without the title)....(it was a "totaled" bike which I believe the salvage yard bought from Allstate Insurance and the bike was originally titled in NY.)

I contacted International Title Service in Nevada and they only deal with bikes up to 1994 but said they are working on a new system that they hope to have in place in two to three weeks that will allow any age bike to be titled.

The dealer has already said he will refund my payment, so I'm not stuck with anything, but to be honest it's a well-maintained bike at a great price.... and I might be able to get it for an even greater price...

Now here are my thoughts...
1.Most important is to be sure that the bike is lien free and not stolen so that it DID have a clear title before the accident....

2. Talk to the dealer and tell him I'll take the bike for less $1500(or less?) without a title and I will work on getting the title(through the title company in Nevada, the salvage yard or maybe even the insurance company(or the original owner?- I'm wondering if neither Allstate nor the salvage yard bothered to re-title the bike which is why NC is not allowing my dealer to get a title- so the title is still sitting in the original owners name in NY?)...

3. When I called the NCDMV they said the problem was that the dealer told them where he got the bike from so they told him that he had to go back to salvage company and have them get the title and then transfer it. I'm wondering if I can just take the bike and register it in another state(NC now has a file on it) and say I bought it from an individual and he didn't have a title..... then they can do a check on it to see if it is stolen or has a lien.....(which it shouldn't have if I check it out first)... if it's clear then I apply for the title.

So... I'm thinking..... get the bike for less.... try to get the title through the methods outlined above or any other ideas you all may have.... and if I succeed I will have a wonderful bike for $1500-2000.... If I fail and there is no way to get the title then I just part the bike out and I should be able to recoup my investment plus more since it is a virtually perfect bike(the only thing that doesn't work is the radio!)...

Your thoughts? Ideas? Know of a good approach to get a title?

thanks,
David

DARKCLOUD
12-06-2009, 04:02 AM
What does your bill of sale say? It is the sellers responsibility to give you a marketable title or something to the effect that it is for parts only. I'd take it back, and get my money back while whoever sold it to you gets you a title. Have you checked out all the paperwork with the bike to see who owned the bike before the insurance company. If you come up short, take the VIN to a BMW dealer and have him run it. You'd find out if there were any outstanding recalls on the bike etc. If you end up with the bike and no title I doubt if you could part it out for a grand, or you could get a donor K1100LT and start putting parts on it from the one you have now. JON

osbornk
12-06-2009, 06:27 AM
I would wager that it was totaled in Va and received a nonrebuildable title. If that is true, you cannot get a title of any kind for it, You should return it or use it for parts only.

jforgo
12-06-2009, 08:42 AM
It is the dealer's responsibility to supply the title. You cannot even go to Virginia to get title; since you were not a party to that transaction, you have no standing to do so.
Take the bike back to the dealer. Get your money back. They have no title, so they really have no standing to sell it.
I wouldn't mess with this. Your papers simply are not in order.

BLUEGTC
12-07-2009, 04:37 PM
Thanks for the input.... so far I'm not ready to pack it in since there appears to be clear lineage of the title.... I guess the problem is that I've seen the bike and the idea that it was totaled or can't be rebuilt doesn't fit the picture... http://www.greeceworld.com/BMW

I've contacted the NCDMV and they see that the title is clear, it just wasn't registered by the salvage yard who sold the bike. The DMC said to write them a letter basically saying that the bike was purchased from a salvage yard, is perfectily operational and that the salvage company is unwilling to go through the titling process.... so it's not an open and shut case... will keep you posted....

thompsonr
12-07-2009, 04:57 PM
Can understand why you would continue the fight. Good Luck . And let us know how it goes!:clap

osbornk
12-07-2009, 05:29 PM
Thanks for the input.... so far I'm not ready to pack it in since there appears to be clear lineage of the title.... I guess the problem is that I've seen the bike and the idea that it was totaled or can't be rebuilt doesn't fit the picture... http://www.greeceworld.com/BMW

I've contacted the NCDMV and they see that the title is clear, it just wasn't registered by the salvage yard who sold the bike. The DMC said to write them a letter basically saying that the bike was purchased from a salvage yard, is perfectily operational and that the salvage company is unwilling to go through the titling process.... so it's not an open and shut case... will keep you posted....

The salvage title law in Virginia and the determination of whether is gets a non-rebuildable title or not has nothing to do with the facts. It has to do with the % of the estimate as it relates to the actual cash value of the vehicle and how lazy the adjuster handling the claim was. With a motorcycle, the repair estimate can be more than the value of the bike and the damage won't show in the picture. If I recall (I helped write the law in an attempt to keep it reasonable when I was a claims manager), if the damage is over 75% of the settlement value, the vehicle is deemed non-repairable. If no estimate was made and it an "obvious" total loss, it also gets a non-repairable designation. Except for Harleys, motorcycle value at salvage auctions is very little. They don't bring enough for an effort to be made to hold the value up by making a realistic estimate to save it from a non-repairable designation. The law has been changed several times since I was involved but there used to be minimum values and maximum ages that applied to salvage title laws.

Ken

BLUEGTC
12-07-2009, 08:45 PM
Thanks Ken... that's the kind of info I'm looking for... I sent the letter to DMV so we'll see what they say... but my thinking is also that you've outlined the VA law to the best of your ability, but there are probably 50 other laws for each state so this may just preclude me from registering the bike in VA and there may be another state(or company) that will register an untitled bike w/ a bond.... since no one has really seen the title it's not even known if it was "not for rebuild" or "salvaged"... or even it was registered in VA... the current inspection sticker on the bike is NY so I was thinking more in the line that the title was signed over to the insurance company who either registered it or didn't.... and then possibly it on to the salvage company who didn't register it... If the last registered title is sitting in NY in the owner's name because no one after him registered it because it was easier(and faster) to pass it on without the title... then it's a whole different ballgame than a "salvaged" or "not for rebuild" title... is my thinking flawed somewhere?.... thanks

osbornk
12-07-2009, 09:12 PM
Thanks Ken... that's the kind of info I'm looking for... I sent the letter to DMV so we'll see what they say... but my thinking is also that you've outlined the VA law to the best of your ability, but there are probably 50 other laws for each state so this may just preclude me from registering the bike in VA and there may be another state(or company) that will register an untitled bike w/ a bond.... since no one has really seen the title it's not even known if it was "not for rebuild" or "salvaged"... or even it was registered in VA... the current inspection sticker on the bike is NY so I was thinking more in the line that the title was signed over to the insurance company who either registered it or didn't.... and then possibly it on to the salvage company who didn't register it... If the last registered title is sitting in NY in the owner's name because no one after him registered it because it was easier(and faster) to pass it on without the title... then it's a whole different ballgame than a "salvaged" or "not for rebuild" title... is my thinking flawed somewhere?.... thanks

The part you don't know is where it was wrecked. That is where the title problem would be. If it was wrecked in Virginia, Virginia law would apply regardless of where the bike is from. If it is deemed non-rebuildable, there will be no title. The title is sent to Richmond and a non-repairable document or certificate is returned. When an Insurance company pays for a vehicle and gets the vehicle, it obtains the title by law. If they can't provide you with a title quickly, I would walk away from the deal and get my money back. A salvage auction will not sell a vehicle if they don't have a clear title (or non-repairable document). When you buy a vehicle at a salvage auction, you go home with the title. I've had them sit at the auction for many months waiting on a clear title. I don't know what the law is not but when it was instituted, the title law applied to anything valued over $5,000 or less than 6 years old.

montana
12-08-2009, 04:06 PM
I'm surprised you can't just provide proof that it is a salvage, and then register it as a rebuild. Once you put together a bike from various parts, you can title it. You can even register a custom-built bike as long as it meets the basic vehicle requirements.

BLUEGTC
12-08-2009, 07:39 PM
Yes, I'm surprised also... I think the problem is that the dealer told them where he bought it from and they said to get the title..... I suspect if he said he bought it from someone without a title it would be less of a problem.. they now have a file on the bike but wouldn't have had we just requested a title.... but I guess we're going to find out what can and can't be done here.... Besides the bike being nice, I enjoy "the chase" of finding a way to get something done... and as long as it doesn't take a vast amount of time and money, I have all winter to figure this one out.... and hopefully I'll be set for the Carolina spring!

BUDDINGGEEZER
12-08-2009, 09:11 PM
Not all states have the same salvage/damage title laws. In Arkansas you can get license on a 'salvage' title. I was told there is no process for cleaning up the title to read non salvage, but I didn't care.

If the bike is as good as it looks and a title can't be obtained you could look for a frame with a title. Every now and then I have seen them come across the 'net. It would be a relatively simple matter (compared to most bikes) to unbolt the old frame and bolt the new frame on, since the frame doesn't hold the drive train.

How simple to find a frame with a title??????????????

Ralph Sims

osbornk
12-08-2009, 09:41 PM
Not all states have the same salvage/damage title laws. In Arkansas you can get license on a 'salvage' title. I was told there is no process for cleaning up the title to read non salvage, but I didn't care.

If the bike is as good as it looks and a title can't be obtained you could look for a frame with a title. Every now and then I have seen them come across the 'net. It would be a relatively simple matter (compared to most bikes) to unbolt the old frame and bolt the new frame on, since the frame doesn't hold the drive train.

How simple to find a frame with a title??????????????

Ralph Sims

Switching the frame is the age old trick used to "legalize" stolen vehicles. That is one reason salvage laws were developed. Before salvage title laws, a burned to the ground Corvette with a title and frame would bring between $1,000 and $2,000 at any salvage sale. David was told the history of the bike but is that really true? It might have a lein on it or be stolen. Many of us have a friend (policeman, DMV employee, FBI agent, etc) who can run the ID number and find out it's status. I would not spend a lot of time or money until I knew I owned the bike legally. It hurts when the law comes and takes your vehicle from you and gives it back to the rightful owner. You lose it all even if you are totally innocent and you have to go back to where you bought it and they go back to where they bought it and they go back, etc. until somebody can't find who they bought it from.

BUDDINGGEEZER
12-08-2009, 09:56 PM
Switching the frame is the age old trick used to "legalize" stolen vehicles. That is one reason salvage laws were developed. Before salvage title laws, a burned to the ground Corvette with a title and frame would bring between $1,000 and $2,000 at any salvage sale. David was told the history of the bike but is that really true? It might have a lein on it or be stolen. Many of us have a friend (policeman, DMV employee, FBI agent, etc) who can run the ID number and find out it's status. I would not spend a lot of time or money until I knew I owned the bike legally. It hurts when the law comes and takes your vehicle from you and gives it back to the rightful owner. You lose it all even if you are totally innocent and you have to go back to where you bought it and they go back to where they bought it and they go back, etc. until somebody can't find who they bought it from.

I don't know the laws where you live, but I can buy an auto without an engine with a clear title, a bike frame with a clear title (Might be hard to find) and put any engine I want in it an it's perfectly legal. Salvage titles laws were developed so the buyer of a vehicle would know the vehicle had been wrecked. I wasn't talking about buying a salvage title frame, but a frame with a clean title. I'm not talking about removing the VIN plates and replacing with a salvage vehicle VIN like on stolen vehicles to acquire a title on the stolen vehicle that doesn't have one.
No difference than putting a different engine in a frame, which is exactly what I suggested being done. A different engine in a different titled frame.

You do make a great point about the non titled bike possibly being stolen. My solution is for states that will not license a salvage title vehicle should he acquire a salvage title or bill of sale from the salvage yard and his state not title it.
Ralph Sims

BLUEGTC
12-09-2009, 04:35 AM
OK... if I can't get it titled here I may send my papers to Arkansas, or anywhere else that will let me title them....... as for selling a stolen bike, wouldn't you think a salvage yard(this came from a salvage auction yard in VA) would be very careful about accepting and selling stolen property... with the VIN number transferred in the bill of sale(and on the bike) it would put a company in a precarious position to make only $500-1000(or have the bike in their possession before the sale). I would think the salvage company would take the VIN off, but I would suspect that selling salvage vehicles would be pretty regulated....

Yes, the bike may have been stolen... but we've been to the NCDMV and I would think they would have access to information to see that it was stolen.... but maybe I'll check in with my local police department..... and maybe they'll have a record. Who else besides police have records of stolen vehicles...

thanks for your input....

BLUEGTC
12-09-2009, 04:43 AM
Also, as for stolen... the bike was wrecked.... so either the guy wrecked the stolen bike and then put it in a truck to try to sell it, some one else recovered it and tried to sell it or the police made a record of the stolen bike after the accident and it went to the salvage yard... but I would think that once the police got involved they'd realize it was stolen... and someone who steals a bike probably wouldn't try to sell it after they wrecked it(unless he was really dumb)... so if it was stolen, I would guess it was someone who found the bike and wanted to get a couple of hundred dollars by selling a bike that wasn't his...... that sounds like a lot of work and risk for a couple of hundred dollars.... and most junkies don't have pickup trucks....

ted
12-09-2009, 05:56 AM
I have just gone through something similar to this with a good friend. She dropped her '87 K75C and chipped the fairing by the turn signal and slightly scratched the engine case, unfortunately she dropped it on her leg and broke it in two places. She filed a claim for the bike and for her medical and they came back with a total loss. She elected to keep the bike for $200 off the final award, with minor cosmetic damage it seemed a shame not to.

The insurance adjuster mentioned several times that when folks keep bikes after a total (and accordingly keep the title) there is a different reporting procedure to follow and even admitted he actually wasn't quite sure what it was. He went on to mention that because of gaps in red tape or because many people simply don't bother, many times the title brand never actually makes it to the title and the title itself remains clear.

jforgo
12-09-2009, 07:48 AM
I live in Nevada, but California is close by, with a lot of bikes for sale. Some I have called about had no title. Each time, the titleless seller would claim that I could affidavit it dormant, or whatever story, and I could title it here.

So I went on the NV DMV website, and started hunting thru all their forms with regards to purchase, titling, and registration. Some of these forms would also have instructions, which cite the statutes the forms were designed to fulfill. After reading thru the relevant laws, I could not find a procedure which did not begin with a title from any state. I did call the titling division and they verified this was true.

What I am suggesting here is you do the same, but with Arkansas, as you mentioned, or whatever state you choose (don't bother with NV!). Back into the process. Wade thru their forms, read the instructions, look at the cited statutes, and see what the procedure is for your situation, if in fact there is one. Most states also have an administrative code, like the Federal Register, which has pretty much the force of law. If there is a legal procedure, and you do your part, they also must follow it, and give you your title. Of course, you must have all, and I mean all, the required documentation.

It is also very helpful to bring pertinent pages from the DMV website, codes, etc.,as you are proposing an unusual transaction. I went into NV DMV with a slightly odd titling transaction. The clerk refused to process it, claiming my papers were not in order. I politely gave the clerk the relevant pages, summarised them, they went to a supervisor, and a few minutes later it was "sorry to keep you waiting sir". It pays to be polite and prepared.

IIRC, I saw either Georgia or Florida had a procedure for what you want to do. You may want to start there.

osbornk
12-09-2009, 08:04 PM
My solution is for states that will not license a salvage title vehicle should he acquire a salvage title or bill of sale from the salvage yard and his state not title it.
Ralph Sims

In Virginia, if a vehicle is marked as non-repairable, a title ceases to exist. With the connectivity between state DMVs, I don't what problems that would cause in other states. It might nobe be a problem but I would make sure I had the title issue resolved before I spent in time or money on the bike.

My comment about the possibility of it being stolen was that whether it was bought at a salvage sale or elsewhere was based on what the seller said. As one who used to sell used cars and fix totals, truth about a vehicle's true history sometimes get "confused".

dbrick
12-10-2009, 12:29 AM
After reading thru the relevant laws, I could not find a procedure which did not begin with a title from any state. I did call the titling division and they verified this was true.

Sort of. My friend DarrylRi titled a 1928 BMW a few years ago which had been brought from Europe, and was without a state title. The problem BlueGTC has is that this bike has been titled somewhere, and because DMV computers talk to each other, he can't present it as a never-titled machine.

RINTY
12-10-2009, 12:51 AM
...was without a state title...dbrick

The provinces and territories in Canada don't even have motor vehicle titles. Registration certificates here are not title documents, only an indication that an ownership interest to the registrant may exist.

The first chattel certificate of title that I ever saw was last year, when I bought a car in Utah.

BLUEGTC
12-10-2009, 02:19 AM
I think this is a bit of a muddled area(wrecked, salvaged etc.. which we don't even know if it is on the title), but if a title existed and the VIN is traceable(as it seems to be) there is a trail of who has owned the bike. I think that is the purpose of bonding the bike- to make sure that no conflict of ownership arises.....

wharthog
12-10-2009, 04:40 AM
I think the easiest way to solve this problem is to find the last registered owner and get a bill of sale from them. Here in CA, the police will come out and do a VIN verification. (there is a DMV form for this which they sign) It's like a affidavit that the VIN on the vehicle is correct and that the vehicle matches what you paperwork is representing. This is primarily for vehicles that are custom built, with registration that is no longer in the system, or salvage rebuilds, etc. I would try calling the police and having an officer come out. If they do VIN verifications (which they must) tell them you want that. Try explaining the problem to the cop, perhaps when he runs the VIN he can tell you who the last owner was and you can get in touch with them that way...

Just a thought.

BLUEGTC
12-10-2009, 12:25 PM
thanks.... I'll see if I can get the last owner's name.... but since I'm assuming that the signed it over to the inusrance company he may not be willing to give me a bill of sale(especially since he didn't sell it to me and I didn't pay him any money).... but the other problem is that there is a file on the bike in NC now so anything I do other than what NC wants me to do will have to be done in another state.... I'm trying to do it within NC so it's just a matter of hearing what NC wants me to do... If I can't meet their requirements then i have to look at other options... so keep the ideas coming if you have any.... thanks.... but i will contact the police to see if I can get the last owner's name to at least get some history on the bike from him.... since he's no longer the owner the chances are probably better that I'll get accurate info(although it certainly does look like he took care of the bike)...

J Brase
12-10-2009, 07:49 PM
I have no experience in this regard, but I have heard that Maine and Arizona have relatively easy DMV rules about getting a title to a vehicle. I think Maine will issue a title based on a bill of sale alone. There are services on the net who, for a fee, will handle it for you.

John

osbornk
12-10-2009, 08:07 PM
I think you are going to a lot of trouble that should be handled by the dealer. If he sold you a vehicle, he is required to provide a title or certificate to you. The DMV might be interested if a dealer sold you a vehicle without providing a title (unless he designated it parts only). You said he bought it from a salvage dealer in Virginia. I checked the code and a salvage dealer in Virginia is required to have a title, salvage certificate or a nonrepairable certificate in his possession for all vehicles in his possession. The salvage dealer in Virginia didn't necessarily buy the vehicle in Virginia so the title requirements could vary. The salvage dealers I know frequently travel in 3 or 4 surrounding states looking for vehicles.

I checked the current Virginia code for salvage and nonrepairable certificates. The law applies to "late model vehicles" which is defined as current year plus the five prior years and for vehicles with an actual cash value in excess of $10,000 regardless of age. However, an insurance company or owner can declare a vehicle nonrepairable if they wish regardless of the age or value. To get a salvage certificate, the damage must be more than 75% of the actual cash value but less than 90%. They must also provide an itemized estimate of the damage. A nonrepairable certificate is required if the damage is over 90% of the value or the insurance company does not provide an itemized estimate of the damage (lazy adjuster).

montana
12-11-2009, 06:39 PM
I have first hand experience that salvage and "totaled" vehicles can be put back on the road. We had a Subaru wagon that was rolled and declared totaled. It was sold as salvage, and a year later someone called us to say they were the current owner, they had traced us as the previous owner, and had we had any transmission trouble? Ha ha ha. We never had transmission trouble, but once that thing bounced end over end, I would imagine some things got bumped pretty hard! The adjuster had showed me where the crumple zones had done their work. You can weld on a new roof but you can't hide crumble zone indicators.

briana
12-14-2009, 03:26 PM
I know Mass. and RI make it very difficult to get a title unless you have a previous registration. Throw a salvage situation into the mix and i wouldn't be very confident in being able to get a title. The older the bike the easier it is. If you can get the bike at that price it might be worth paying a lawyer to help figure out the legal details.

85K100LT
12-14-2009, 08:41 PM
I am in AZ and had a Honda Goldwing 1980 I got for free with no title. Guy said when he moved into the house the previous owner had left it. I did some work on it new tires some engine repair. Took it to the AZ DMV for a title after a 2 hour wait it was confisgated as a stolen vechile and returned to Allstate insurance Co.

My wife and her girlfriend had a good laugh when I called to get picked up from the DMV. Local police stolen vechicle division did ask me how I aquired bike.
Remember some things are to good to be free. Lession learned.:dance

BLUEGTC
12-14-2009, 09:31 PM
It's getting interesting.... I spoke with NCDMV and they said to send a letter explaining the situation and address it to "her", which I did... I gave her a few days to get the letter and then thought about calling NY to see if I could find the last owner.

I called the DMV in NY, gave them the VIN number and he came back and said to me basically "Return the bike, you can't do anything without a title".... "yikes", I thought to myself. "I think I should return the bike".

I decided to call NCDMV and find out what their response to my letter. The woman I spoke to was very matter of fact and calmly looked through her inbox and said "Nope, I haven't heard back from license and theft yet".

I asked her if this was pretty routine what I was asking for and she said, once again pretty matter of factly that it was and that we should hear back on Wednesday. She explained that the bond process was just to make sure that there were no problems with the re-issued title.

Since I spoke to NCDMV(and they located the bike) and they didn't seem to be too worried about it I don't think it was stolen. As a matter of fact he said that it was still titled to an individual, so I'm starting to think that neither the insurance nor the salvage followed through with title transfers....

What I did find was interesting was when I mentioned that I wanted to try to contact the original owner but the DMV employee said "Oh no, you can't do that, ,it's illegal to contact the title holder if you haven't had previous contact with him."
I find that hard to believe and if it is true I can't imagine that it would be enforced or that a person who was had a title would even think to call the police because someone ask them about a bike they have titled in their name....

Also called a custom bike builder in FL who built a bike for my cousin, to get some insight on titling in FL and she said that Florida has some of the strictest titling laws in the nation....

So, I'm hoping that the news from the NCDMV is positive... so far no one is sending out a sheriff to pick up the bike, so I think the title is probably clear... and if I'm lucky no one bothered to put a "salvage" on it!!

BLUEGTC
01-01-2010, 02:38 AM
I received a clean title in the mail today.... Makes me happy that I didn't take the advice of all the people who said to return the bike and get my money back..... I guess the moral is.... titles and the DMV is not an exact science.... thanks for your input!

ted
01-01-2010, 04:11 AM
Did you go through a broker or was the brand never recorded?

BLUEGTC
01-02-2010, 01:58 PM
Hello Ted,

I'm not sure I understand your question... can you clarify?

thanks,
David

BetterLateThanNever
01-03-2010, 01:27 AM
Well done!

Was interested to follow this thread... not something I've had to deal with, but opens my eyes to some issues I wasn't really aware of.

Enjoy the new ride!

kbike
01-10-2010, 02:37 PM
Dave

If you are interested, I am the former owner of the K bike you picked up, I have sent you a PM with contact information.

Thanks
Rich