We Buy All Cars, Running or Not!

Here’s What To Do With Your Plates When Selling Your Junk Car

junk car

Selling a junk car can be a time-consuming and sometimes confusing process especially if it’s your first time doing it. It is especially important to carefully go through the process to get the best scrap car price for your car and to make sure you are ready to go. You now have the title, your registration and bill of sale, removed all your items from the interior and then it suddenly hits you, what about the plates. Here’s what to do with your plates when selling your junk car:

⚠️ If It's Broken, Don't Fix It - Get Paid Cash for Your Vehicle ⚠️


The questions are: do you hand them over to whichever junk car buyer ends up coming to haul away your car? Do you keep it? Does it really matter what you do with it? It is at your disposal what to do about it? The answer is very crucial and never should be overlooked.


First things first, never leave the license plates on your vehicle as it could open you up for uninvited liabilities. There is such a thing as an owner liability that connects your car to you through your license plates. Imagine having your license plates get into the wrong hands after junking your car.


If your vehicle gets involved in any sort of illegal activity after you sell it, whether you are responsible or not and your plates are still on it, that illegal activity could be linked back to you. This potential problem is not even limited to serious crimes or car accidents but can also apply to things like incurring parking tickets, towing fees, and the list goes on.


Let’s just say you live in an area where the rule dictates that the registration of a vehicle (with its license plates) is connected with owner liability, then you should remove the plates from your junk vehicle before you sell it. Make sure to take the plates off the car even before the junk car buyer shows up to haul it away. This is another very important thing that you should do when selling your junk car.


In most states, it is required for you to return the license plates to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before your registration cancellation. Also, you might not be able to cancel your car insurance policy before the plates and registration have been turned in. 


If you keep ownership of your old vehicle’s license plates, you may simply dispose of them at your local DMV, where either they will be recycled, destroyed or reissued to another vehicle. Once you do that the DMV should be able to issue you a receipt as proof that you have already handed in the plates. This will also be your proof that the vehicle is no longer registered under your name. 


Also remember to hold onto this receipt as future evidence in any case that something goes wrong. Just to be on the safe side contact your local DMV and find out the specific rules. They should be able to tell you right away what the rules are regarding license plates in your area or state as a whole.


But if you wish to keep your plates as they are personalized you may be able to do so. The exact process may vary slightly between states, but in general, the process is fairly simple. You will have to take the plates, your new vehicle’s title and your old car’s title or a copy of it to the DMV. You will then have to fill out a form and more likely to pay a small fee. You can then have your old license plates be installed on your new vehicle.

What Do I Do With My Plates After I Sell My Car? – What to do With Your Plates When Selling Your Junk Car


We already know what to do with plates coming from a junk car but what about the plates coming from a still-operating vehicle you are selling? 


In the United States, Vehicle Registration Plates, also known as license plates, are issued by the DMV, the state or territorial government department, or, in the case of the District of Columbia, the district government. License plates are also issued by certain Native American tribes. These plates are required per state and must be added for official identification purposes and security reasons to any automotive vehicle. Here are some things you should do with your plates when selling your junk car.


License plates help authorities identify the owner of a vehicle if it gets involved in traffic violations or accidents. There are overall 50 license plates that vary by design per state from standard to personalized plates. And with that, different states also have varying rules and regulations when it comes to keeping or getting rid of these identifying metal tags.


Most states require removing the plates before turning over the car to the new vehicle owner, while some other states require that the plates stay with the vehicle. Some state laws will even allow you to keep it then transfer it to a new vehicle. The most important thing is to always refer to the guidelines of the State Division of Motor Vehicles even before you complete the sale. 


The Standard Plate stays with the vehicle. Car owners can submit a form to the California DMV if they want to keep the same plates. For Personalized/Specialized Plates, it stays with the owner. Take off and hold on to the license plates as you may transfer them to your new vehicle. Specialized plates use a combination of numbers, letters and characters spelling out special words or phrases. These unique combinations of words cannot be vulgar, offensive or owned by anyone else.


Just see to it that all paperwork has been duly submitted to the DMV by either the seller or the buyer, otherwise, the transfer of ownership is not final and the former owner of the vehicle is still responsible for all registration fees, smog compliance, parking and/or traffic violations, renewals,  civil liability and criminal liability. This may be a 60-day process to complete before a new title is issued by the DMV. Some fees may also be due before the transfer of ownership is considered complete.


In states where you have to remove your plates before selling, always remember never let a buyer “borrow” your plate, as it was mentioned that any violations issued to the buyer already driving the vehicle, with your plate on the vehicle, will be your liability. This is something you should watch out for and never do when selling your junk car.


Under some state laws like in Michigan, a buyer who purchased a vehicle through a private sale may drive the newly bought vehicle home taking the most direct route without a license plate. But the buyer must do so within three days of purchase carrying the assigned title as well as proof of insurance during transit.


If you happen to receive any renewals or other notices from the DMV about a vehicle that you are no longer in possession of, you must inform them immediately so that the record can be updated and you are not to be found responsible for the vehicle and its use. 


You don't want any civil or criminal charges taken against you in the event that the vehicle is involved in an accident, parking and/or traffic violations or worst illegal activities, like when it’s used as a getaway vehicle.


Can I junk a car with expired registration?


It is possible to junk a car with expired registration but then you will still owe the money. So you have to turn in your plates and do whatever is required to terminate/cease the registration immediately. You're lucky if your junk car is unregistered and no one has complained about it. It could, however, be only a matter of time before it is brought to the authorities' attention. Further delays will cause you to incur additional charges or fines.


The easiest way to deal with an unregistered junker, in many places, is to call a salvage yard. Typically, they're going to tow your car to their lot, so you're not going to have to take the risk to drive an unregistered automobile if it even moves. Then they can remove any toxic substances and sellable parts.


The rest of the remaining car parts will be crushed and shredded. The removed precious metals will then go to a refinery to be melted down into new items for recycling. The whole process will save a lot of time, money, and energy resources in this process, so it is not only good for the economy but also the environment.


Not only are you going to get the unregistered junker off your sight, but when you hand your vehicle over, you'll get cash on the spot. Unless it's a rare car it's not going to be a fortune, but it's still going to be added cash you didn't have before.


In some areas, you only need proof of ownership, usually the title, when you sell your junk car to salvagers. But junkyards can also ask for registration in some areas.  A reliable company may still be able to help you through the process as they've seen it all before.


DMV Junk Slip


A DMV Junk slip is a receipt coming from the DM. In order to get one, you first have to provide the pink slip or the title of the car and the license plates of the vehicle. Anyone who also decides to junk their vehicle must pay back any fees/penalties if their registration has expired. 


But if your registration is current, then it will not cost you anything to receive the DMV Junk Slip. People often junk their car and get a junk slip when their vehicle is no longer moving and they have no plans of fixing it or operating it any longer. You may seek help at the No DMV Lines to make your life easier. 


Can I junk a car if the title is not in my name? – What to Do With Your Plates When Selling Your Junk Car


The answer is again state-dependent. For the most part, salvage companies only need the vehicle's Certificate of Title, however, in some states, other documents are needed. In most cases, companies even junk cars even if your name is not on the title, but you may need to acquire a new title or other documentation before they can buy it.


You may also need a signed release of interest by the registered owner found on the title or on a Bill of Sale. If your name has changed from the name on the title, then you will have to provide a marriage certificate, or a court record of the name change, and also a signed Statement of Facts. 


If for some reason you cannot obtain the required documentation then feel free to visit your local DMV office. This applies to states such as Arkansas, California, Florida, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Utah. In other states such as Alberta and British Columbia, a vehicle registration and tax form are required to sell the vehicle.


Other FAQ:

Do I need to notify DMV if I junk my car?


Yes, you must give notification to the Department of Motor and Vehicle (DMV) if you sell, trade or donate your vehicle, and you have to do it within 5 days. This can be done by going online, contacting them by phone or better yet by visiting a customer service center. You must also give notification to your insurance company when applicable.

Do I get a refund from the DMV?


You have just paid for the registration of the vehicle when you sold it, are you entitled to a refund? The answer is no, you are not as vehicle registration is inherited with the sale. So if you, unfortunately, purchased a vehicle with an expired registration, then you are responsible to pay for the registration and late fees.  


At the same time, if you bought a vehicle with current registration, you are then not subject to the current year’s registration, as they have already been paid for.  



States differ when it comes to their rules on license plates or on scrapping/junking a car. While it might be confusing there are simple steps to find what laws are applicable to you. The answer is right at your fingertips. So go ahead and use these tips for what to do with your plates when selling your junk car!


© 2022 Cash Cars Buyer. All Rights Reserved. Terms & Conditions | Privacy Policy | Sitemap