There are circumstances in which a car can be sold without the title, but as a general rule, this is something to avoid. You should also be aware that laws vary from state to state and in different regions of the world; if you are trying to sell a car without a title, you should talk directly with your local department of motor vehicles.
Even in areas where selling without a title is permitted, you may have trouble selling the car, as most buyers are suspicious of sellers who do not have titles. As a buyer, you should also beware of people trying to sell cars without titles; make sure that you understand the circumstances, and enter into a deal at your own risk when a car is sold without the title.
A car title is a document which proves ownership of a vehicle. It also has useful information like the car's mileage at last sale. Without a title, there is no way to prove that you own a vehicle except by going into the department of motor vehicles and asking them to pull up your title record. When a car is sold without the title, the implication is that the car may be stolen, and this could be problematic for the purchaser. It may also be difficult for the buyer to register a car which has been sold without the title.
The most common reason for a car to be sold without the title is in the case of a car which is actually owned by a third party lien holder, like a bank. In this case, the seller should ideally pay the loan and then sell the car, but when this is not an option, the seller can arrange for the sale of the car, while the lienholder transfers the title. In a situation where this occurs, it may be beneficial to carry out the transaction in the office of the leinholder, to ensure that it runs smoothly and that there are no problems in the future.
It is also possible to simply lose the title to a car, in which case some people may try to sell their vehicles without titles. Getting a replacement title is usually not that difficult, and it is highly recommended if you have lost track of the title to your vehicle. If getting a replacement title is not an option for whatever reason, contact your department of motor vehicles and find out if they allow transfers of cars with lost titles. Typically they will provide a “lost title form” which is given to the buyer of the car so that he or she can register it.