The 7 Dos & Don’ts Of Pawning A Car

Surprise! You need some quick cash.


Life surprises or financial emergencies are always around the corner. Job loss, medical expenses, and sudden moves are just a few examples.

Research shows that almost 25% of Americans are living without any type of emergency savings. Luckily, pawning a car can be the perfect solution, if you know how to do it the right way.

Read on to learn the 7 dos and don’ts for pawning your car.

1. Don’t Go Into the Process Blind

How does pawning a car work? First, you’ll need to apply for the loan either online or in person. Take some time to research who the best pawnbroker is in your area. A good way to tell the quality of a pawn shop is by reading their online customer reviews.

Next, you’ll need to take your vehicle to the pawnshop so they can assess it’s value. Usually, when you’re pawning a car the broker will have a minimum value requirement.

For instance, they may require your car to be worth at least $1500 for you to get a loan. However, if you have an older car, you should still explore the financing options the pawnshop has to offer. Sometimes, pawnshops are willing to make an exception by offering you a lower loan amount.

2. Do Bring the Right Identification and Paperwork

Are you wondering what to bring when you pawn a car? Here’s a shortlist of everything you’ll need:

  • Vehicle
  • Drivers license
  • Vehicle registration
  • Car title
  • Proof of insurance coverage

Research shows there are about 685 drivers for every 1,000 state residents in America. You’ll have to fall under the category of a licensed driver to pawn your car, and your driver’s license has to be valid.

Next, you’ll need up to date vehicle registration and proof of active insurance coverage. Your insurance identification cards will work as proof of coverage, or you could bring a copy of your insurance policy’s declaration page.

Can You Pawn a Car You Don’t Own?

Finally, the car title has to be clear because you can’t pawn a car you don’t completely own. What’s a clear title mean?

A clear title means it doesn’t have any current lien on it from anyone who could try to claim ownership of the vehicle legally. For instance, if you already have a loan on the vehicle from a creditor, or if the car’s on a lease, you won’t be eligible to pawn your car.

3. Don’t Forget to See If You Qualify

Once you have all of your paperwork, and identification together, the next step is to double-check that you qualify. While most pawnshops will be willing to take work with you despite your credit rating, there are still a few criteria you’ll have to meet.

Here’s a shortlist of things you’ll need to qualify for a pawn loan at most locations:

  • Proof of income
  • 18 years of age or older
  • State resident

To make sure you’ll be able to pay back the loan, most pawnshops will require you to provide proof of a current income. You could bring bank statements, or paycheck stubs to verify your earnings. If you don’t have a job, bring documents that show your retirement income, unemployment income, or disability payments.

How to Prove State Residency

To prove you’re a state resident, there are a few different things you can bring. First, you could bring a copy of your utility bill with your name and address on it. Examples of utility bills include electricity, gas, garbage, water, or a landline phone bill.

If the pawnshop requires you to prove how long you’ve been a state resident, bring an old utility bill from a year ago and a current one. Another option is to bring a copy of your up to date voter registration.

Finally, are you renting your apartment or home? If yes, a copy of a tenancy agreement (like your lease), with your name, address, and length of stay should work as well.

4. Don’t Forget to Clean the Car

On average, Americans spend 17,600 minutes driving their car each year. That’s a lot of time for junk, clutter, and grime to start building up.

After gathering all the identification and paperwork you’ll need, the next step in pawning a car is to go to the car wash. Of course, you can clean the car at home if you have a shop vac and access to water.

Thoroughly cleaning your car will help you have the best chances of getting a higher loan amount. Here are a few tips to help you detail your car like a pro:

  • Clean the battery
  • Service mechanical fluids
  • Adjust parking brake if needed
  • Service your tires
  • Replace windshield wipers
  • Use engine cleaner spray on engine
  • Fix cracked headlights and tail lights
  • Clear out the glove box
  • Remove add on devices
  • Vacuum the interior multiple times
  • Put air in tires
  • Use a tire cleaning spray
  • Remove bumper stickers

Are you looking at all of them to do’s on the list above and thinking, “I can’t afford to do that!”. Don’t worry, just do the things you can. Every effort you make to clean up your car will only further your chances of getting a better pawn loan.

You can explore cost-effective options, like using the air and vacuum service at gas stations.

When you’re all done cleaning your car, inside and out, it should be completely free of clutter. If you can’t afford a spray to clean your tires, check out this DIY tire cleaning spray you can make at home.

5. Do Ask About Storage Options

Before you pawn your car, find out how the pawnshop will be storing your vehicle. Do they offer indoor storage?

If yes, how secure is the storage? The last thing you want is for something bad to happen to your vehicle while it’s in their care.

Pawnshops that provide secure indoor storage are the best option to keep your vehicle safe. Of course, if you’re just pawning your car title, you won’t have to worry about storage options.

Difference Between Pawning Car and Pawning Title

A pawn loan is where you leave your vehicle with the pawnbroker. During a pawn loan, your vehicle stays in storage while you work to pay off the loan.

When you pawn your car title, instead of your loan, you still get to keep possession of your car. Pawning your title could be the preferred choice if you live in a 1 car household.

6. Do Look for Same Day Funding

You’re pawning your car because you need fast cash, which is why you should only go to pawnbrokers that offer immediate funding. Before you bring your vehicle in, call ahead to find when the pawnshop will be able to provide you with cash upon approval of a pawn loan.

For instance, do they offer payouts in as quickly as 24 hours? Or will you have to wait a week or longer? Quality pawnshops will offer quick turnarounds or even same day funding.

Next, ask about the interest rates. Oftentimes, pawnshop loans will have lower interest rates than you’d get on an unsecured car loan. However, be careful to read the fine print.

For many pawn loans, if you don’t pay off the loan in the agreed-upon term, the interest rates can skyrocket. Finally, find out if the pawnshop offers rollovers.

Rollovers are like a grace period for repaying the loan. Whenever possible, choose a pawnshop that offers rollovers to lower your risks of losing ownership of your vehicle.

7. Do Ask About Service Charges

Remember how we said earlier you should find a pawnshop that offers secure indoor storage? Typically, indoor storage comes with a small service fee. Before agreeing to hand your car over, find out exactly how the pawnshop’s service charges operate.

In some cases, a pawnbroker will charge a service charge for every 30 days of storing your car. However, every shop has the right to operate slightly differently, as long as they’re abiding by state laws. Ask the pawnbroker what they will charge as a minimum service fee for the storage, and also find out what the maximum charge could be.

Now You Know Everything About Pawning a Car

Pawning a car can be an easy experience, especially now that you know what to expect! What’s 1 new thing you were able to learn from our article today?

Was it that cleaning your car inside and out can make a huge impact on your pawn loan? Or how about how you’ll need to provide proof of some type of income?

Go ahead and start exploring pawnshops near you today! Before you know it, you could pay off your debts as you climb your way to financial freedom. For more articles like this, check out the rest of this site!

Team JST

Team JST work with our sponsors, shop vendors, and many more to create informative and engaging content.

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