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Lucy, Esq.
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Experience:  Lawyer
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I bought a new car in Washington state in Feb 2013 with bad

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I bought a new car in Washington state in Feb 2013 with bad terms on a loan. I refinanced recently through a local credit union and washington state sent me the title to the car with no lien on it. Now I've decided to sell the car. Is it illegal for me to sell it with? I plan on using the money to repay the loan but i will be short about 3k but will keep making the payments until the remainder is paid.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 9 months ago.
Hi,

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

if the credit union did not place a lien on the vehicle, it's not illegal for you to sell it. You are responsible to continue making payments on the car, just like you are now, but you said that you're going to do that. As long as you keep making the payments, the credit union probably will not even know that you sold the car.

If they had placed the lien, you'd still be able to sell it - you just couldn't transfer title and complete the sale until the loan was paid in full. But you'd be allowed to use the money from the sale to pay the loan. The only difference in that scenario is that most buyers won't agree to buy a car today, knowing it will be a few months before they get the title.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

This was a secured loan so the car was definitely supposed to be the collateral. I think through the refinance process there was most likely a mistake in the electronic titling process and I received the title with me as the only registered and legal owner. I gave them power of attorney when signing the loan papers for the refinance, but that was to get the title I have today. If I sell it, are they able to modify the title adding themselves as legal owner later on after the car has been sold? Just want to make sure I don't end up in cuffs

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 9 months ago.
A person in the US cannot be arrested for not paying a loan. It's not theft to sell your own car. If you think they meant to put themselves on the title and didn't, then you may want to contact the bank and ask them about it. If they try to add themselves after the car is sold, you wouldn't go to jail, but it could take a lot of your time to resolve it - especially if the buyer sues you for not giving him a clean title.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

Thank you. Just a couple more points... So at this point, as I understand it, the according to Washington state, the title is clear and the car is 100 percent owned by me. However there is an outstanding loan to which I owe money on and the car was the intended collateral. If I keep paying the loan but it's been sold and ownership transferred to another party, I would think the bank wouldn't be able to modify title at that point...? Or would they?

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 9 months ago.
They shouldn't be able to. It is possible, though, that they submitted a request to have themselves listed as lien holder on the title and something went wrong in the process. It's also possible that they made a mistake and didn't do it, or that they ended up issuing the loan as a personal loan rather than an auto loan. If you're trying to figure out who made the mistake and what went wrong, the starting point is with the credit union. Look at the paperwork for the loan and see if it says that they have a lien on the car. Then talk to someone in the loan department.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.

So it's not illegal to sell this car?

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 9 months ago.
It's not a crime. They can only sue you if you sell the car and don't pay the loan. They could do that whether or not it was a mistake not to put themselves on the title.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 19673
Experience: Lawyer
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