What Does Car Title Pending Mean?

What Does Car Title Pending Mean?


When looking for a used car online, you may run into different definitions. Some of them, like “former rental”, “parts only,” or “flood damage,”  are quite obvious, while others may seem confusing. The most common car title types are Salvage Title, Parts Only, Rebuilt or Reconstructed Title, and Certificate of Destruction, but the car can also be put up for sale with a pending title. What does it mean, and more importantly, what should a motorist expect from such a car?

Car title pending is a term used when the seller not having the title ready, the document being misplaced, or the seller still having a lien on the car. Purchasing title pending vehicles can prove to be a daunting task if you lack knowledge about their implications and the buying process. Though these vehicles may be priced lower than their counterparts, the expenses can quickly add up if you are unprepared.

We at ClearVIN know that the issues with a car title are often complicated to understand, and motorists need comprehensive and up-to-date guidance on how to solve them. Luckily, we are here to help every car enthusiast. So, let’s dive deeper and discover what stands for the pending title status and why it is important to conduct a VIN lookup in order to get a great used automobile.

What Does Car Title Pending Mean?

What Does Car Title Pending Mean

When someone purchases a used car, they need to transfer the title into their name, which can take some time to complete. During this time, the car title certificate may be listed as “pending,” indicating that the pending title transfer is in progress but has not been finalized.

It’s worth noting that until the title transfer is completed, the new owner may not have legal ownership of the vehicle and may not be able to register the car or obtain insurance. So, we recommend following up and ensuring that the car title transfer process is completed in a timely manner.

Another key point to consider is the price of a pending title car. While it may be more cost-effective, many buyers opt for vehicles with pending car titles. However, this approach is only feasible if the vehicle is intended for use within the US. If you plan to ship the vehicle out of the country, it is advisable to avoid purchasing vehicles with pending titles to prevent any potential export issues and auto fraud. A VIN decoder will also help you to check other points concerning the car background by getting a car history report. 

Reasons for Car Title Pending

Reasons for Car Title Pending

When buying a used car and facing the pending title status, it’s necessary to understand and solve factors that can cause the issue to arise. It allows you to finalize the purchase deal and register the car in your name.

If you have ever asked yourself, ”Why is my title pending?,” we have you covered with our car buying tips. Speaking of the pending title reasons, we can outline the most significant points.

Unpaid Lien

There may be an unsatisfied lien on the vehicle, which means that the debt secured by the car lien has not been fully paid off and the lien has not been cleared from the title. This could be the case if the vehicle was repossessed and the court order relating to the repossession has not been properly recorded on the car title history.

It is essential for the seller(s) to sign over the car title transfer to the buyer. This step serves as a formal acknowledgment and legal recognition of the change in ownership. Without this transfer, the buyer may encounter issues with the vehicle registration and its legality. Additionally, in the event of a pending title, you may be subject to storage fees from both the auction house and shipping company if the vehicle is stored at their location. It is crucial to take note of these potential charges and factor them into your budget to avoid any unexpected costs.

Mistakes in a Car Title Certificate

There may be errors in the title itself, such as missing or inappropriate placement of signatures. In such cases, an affidavit of correction would need to be notarized and attached to the original title. An online car auction may require these corrections to be made before releasing the car title certificate to the purchaser. Therefore, it is important to ensure that all necessary documents are in order and submitted to the auction prior to the sale. It allows avoiding any further delays.

Problems With the Vehicle Background or Car Ownership

Resolving issues related to the vehicle’s ownership or history is essential to obtaining a valid title. This may involve resolving outstanding liens, correcting errors on the car title certificate, or addressing issues related to the vehicle’s previous ownership. It is important to address these problems in a timely manner to avoid complications in the title application process.

By working closely with the appropriate authorities, particularly with a local DMV institution, and providing accurate documentation, it’s possible to resolve these issues and obtain a valid car title. This ensures that the buyer can legally assume ownership of the vehicle and avoid any future legal issues related to the title or ownership of the vehicle.

Other External Factors Causing Delays

If a particular state or town is affected by storms, floods, or other natural disasters, it can cause delays in the court system’s processing. This, in turn, can directly impact the speed and fluidity of a pending title transfer and other procedures such as filing claims, processing titles, recording insurance, and filing AES (Automated Export System) documents. Ultimately, this delay can impact a vehicle’s ability to be exported out of the USA.

Keep in mind that these regional delays are beyond anyone’s control and can cause frustration and inconvenience for those involved in the process of receiving a valid car title. It’s advisable to monitor the situation closely and work with the relevant authorities to find solutions to any issues that may arise. Additionally, it’s important to allow for extra time and be prepared for possible delays in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

How to Avoid the Pending Title Issues

How to Avoid the Pending Title Issues

To prevent potential complications with title renewals or exportation, it is crucial to confirm the availability and title status of any used vehicle you intend to purchase. This step is especially important if you plan to use the vehicle domestically or export it outside the United States. If you do not have a valid car title, both U.S. Customs and maritime port authorities will not allow you to ship a car, despite the delivery method you have chosen.

A special attention to the car documents, in particular to a car title certificate, should be paid when dealing with online auto auctions. The point is that there are strict legal regulations and vehicle export control in the US, and you may face some restrictions and pitfalls when getting a used car from North America. That is why you should always check the car title type before bidding on and paying for an automobile. If you see the title pending status on the online auction website, it means that you will not be able to export the vehicle outside the United States.

Let’s remind which car document types and titles are eligible for export:

  • Clean Title
  • Salvage Title
  • Rebuildable Salvage Certificate
  • Certificate of Destruction
  • Rebuilt/Restored/Reconstructed

If you take part in an online auto auction, there is a great way to check how reputable it is. When bidding on used vehicles, pay special attention to the auction requirements concerning the inventory items and available bidding lots. When the auction requires titles and documentation to be satisfied prior to assigning or running your desired vehicle, it means you will not have any legal issues from the auction’s side. With our trusted partner, AutoBidMaster, you will get decent service and a great inventory of used vehicles to bid on.


A pending title status refers to a situation where a car title certificate has been applied for but has not yet been issued. This can occur for a variety of reasons, including delays in processing paperwork, waiting for lien releases, or resolving issues related to the vehicle’s ownership or history. While a pending title may cause some inconvenience and delay in the process of buying or selling a vehicle, it’s important to ensure that all necessary documents and requirements are met before completing the car title transfer. With the right steps and precautions in place, a pending title can be resolved and the vehicle’s title can be issued, allowing for a successful and legally valid transfer of ownership.

To avoid pitfalls and issues when buying a used car, the best solution is to conduct a VIN lookup with our online services. With more than 10 years of expertise, receiving all the needed vehicle data has become as easy as ABC with ClearVin. To find out more, check our resources or contact us online if any questions concerning our products arise. Alternatively, you can call us at: +1 (844) 268-5991 (8:00 AM–3:00 PM EST, Monday–Friday).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like