How To Avoid Title Problems When Buying a Used Motorcycle

Monday, September 16, 2019

     Buying a used motorcycle can be a rewarding experience. At the same time, you do need to take precautions when procuring a pre-owned vehicle. A botched or missing title can present all sorts of problems, including which OEM motorcycle parts to buy for that bike. Watch out for some common title problems while shopping for your used motorcycle.

How To Avoid Title Problems When Buying a Used Motorcycle
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Problem 1: Title Errors

     Let’s face it. Mistakes happen in important documents thanks to fat fingering or intentional misrepresentation. A few errant keystrokes can transpose digits in a VIN number or make a “1” look like a “7.” Either way, your potential purchase could end up with the wrong make, model or year. Getting these errors corrected can either be incredibly easy or prove difficult and require a lot of money and time.

Problem 2: No Title

     While error-ridden titles are problematic, missing titles present their own issues. You have no way of knowing whether you’re buying that bike legitimately or getting scammed. Even worse, you could wind up purchasing a stolen motorcycle. If you encounter this scenario, check for suspicious telltale signs. A parted-out bike or broken ignition lock could signal hot merchandise. On the other hand, sellers are probably bona fide if the bike looks clean and they invite you to their homes. Also, some states issue certificates instead of titles for vintage bikes. When in doubt, request the bike’s VIN and walk away if the seller won’t comply.

Problem 3: Floating Titles

     Floating titles aren’t as big of a problem as the first two scenarios, but they’re worth mentioning here. You’ll encounter this when someone else’s name and signature are still on the title of the bike you wish to buy. That means your seller didn’t pay the requisite fees to transfer it into his or her name. You’ll have to rectify this later and put it in your own name, of course, but the presence of a title means your bike was probably legitimately owned.

Problem 4: Missing VINs

     If you can get a valid VIN to check on a bike’s history, that’s a plus. A missing VIN, however, could signal major problems. In most cases, it means you’re looking at a hot bike or a formerly stolen one that’s been recovered by authorities. To be honest, you’re better off not buying this motorcycle and looking elsewhere instead.

Problem 5: Incorrectly Titled Bikes

     Thanks to the diverse range of bike manufacturers, motorcycles may have their VINs stamped either on their frames or engines. When you’re dealing with some types of choppers, this can get a little tricky. Since aftermarket frames were produced without VINs, one common practice is to title the machine by its engine. These configurations aren’t generally legal, so you may want to pass on this kind of bike.

Choose a Reputable Parts Dealer

     Once you’ve bought a legitimate secondhand bike, you need to maintain it with top quality parts. Take the same care in sourcing your components by shopping a trusted Powersports dealer for your OEM motorcycle fairings, engine components, electrical gear, and the best aftermarket motorcycle parts.

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