published Saturday, November 9th, 2013

Misplaced your car title? Hamilton County clerk's office can help

Life just got easier for some of Hamilton County’s less organized residents who try to register or sell their vehicles. County Clerk Bill Knowles can now instantly print duplicate car titles when residents lose track of them.

Until last week, duplicate titles had to come from Nashville. But Hamilton County residents now can avoid weeks of bureaucracy and red tape by coming to one of Knowles’ offices, he said this week.

“It would take at least a three-day waiting period, and before I worked out a contract with the state, it would take several weeks” for the title to be received, Knowles said.

All county clerks used to be able to print titles, but the state revoked the ability in March 2011. After years of having to turn away frustrated residents, Knowles said he is glad to have the ability reinstated.

“You know a title is like a birth certificate, I guess. When you got to find it, you can’t turn it up,” he said. “People get on edge. When they need something, they want it yesterday.”

The program will benefit car dealers, too, who often have to wait on information to finalize sales. Clearing up title questions early could also protect dealers from fraud.

“It’ll help us tremendously,” said Tim Kelly, president of Kelly Auto Group. “Being able to duplicate the title quickly will cut down on funny business.”

If someone tries to trade in a car but the title is pawned, dealers will know sooner than before that something is amiss.

Knowles said his office will not duplicate any titles that have liens filed against them.

Aside from that, quick turnaround on titles will make selling cars easier, according to Nancy Turner, controller at Capital Toyota.

“It makes it easier on us because of the time frame that we have from the state to perfect the lien,” she said.

In layman’s terms: Selling a car takes more than a transaction and a handshake. Turner said there is a lot of paperwork and waiting involved — and there are deadlines that dealers have to meet. Having access to same-day titles will alleviate much of that limbo, she said.

People who need to register or sell their vehicles, but have misplaced the titles, can bring a current tag receipt, which shows their name and title number, along with photo ID to the clerk’s office in the Hamilton County Courthouse or the Bonny Oaks branch office at 6135 Heritage Park Drive.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon or at 423-757-6481.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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