Junkyard and salvage auto auctions are great sources for finding cheap vehicles, but buyers beware that not all junk vehicles or junk parts can be titled. Even if the vehicle is in perfect condition, if the VIN is found in the NMVTIS database, you will never be able to title that vehicle.
“It’s not a title problem, it’s a VIN problem.”
The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) is the federal database that records every vehicle that is ineligible for a title. Once a vehicle’s VIN is registered with the NMVTIS, it is legally considered junk or parts and no title can be issued by any state for the vehicle. To enter the NMVTIS database, a junkyard or similar entity must deem the vehicle as junk and report the VIN to the NMVTIS. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice cracked down on underreporting from these entities in a memo stating that these entities are now required to report the VIN of junk vehicles within one month or pay $1,000 per vehicle that is not reported.
Fortunately, every DMV abides by this law and there are no exceptions. This law isn’t designed to prevent individuals from purchasing a vehicle from a junkyard or auto auction, but it is designed to protect buyers from unknowingly purchasing a vehicle with an invalid VIN. If you’ve purchased a vehicle from a junkyard or auto auction such as Copart or IAAI, make sure you perform a VIN check. We recommend checking the VIN of the vehicle prior to purchasing to ensure you have all of the accurate information about your vehicle. The NMVTIS makes it simple to check your VIN here.
One of the most common calls we get at CarTitles.com is from customers who bought a vehicle from a junkyard that has an NMVTIS history. If you’ve got a junk vehicle or junk parts, or you’re looking to purchase one from an auction, we highly recommend checking the VIN against the NMVTIS database. If your VIN is in this database, there’s only one way to get a vehicle title. To title a junk vehicle, you must obtain a new VIN from the DMV as an assembled vehicle. For more resources and assistance in getting a title for a junk vehicle, check out JunkTitle.com.