I recently went and purchased a new vehicle and had my girlfriend co sign and I traded in my old car as a down payment.

The finance department ended up writing up the paperwork listing her as the primary and me as the co signer, which was backwards. I am in the state of Missouri so I have learned that we both have equal rights to the vehicle.

My question is, whether or not a document exists that I can have her sign that would state that she will relinquish claim of ownership for the vehicle as long as I make all of the payments. Does such a document exists?

I have done a little reading and I know I can try and re finance in 6 months to a year and see if I can just get financed and have her removed but to err on the side of caution I would like to have a legal document in place to keep me from loosing my payments and money I have put into this vehicle if anything goes awry. Thank you all in advance, I greatly appreciate it.


The key here is the bank, they hold the title to the car and as such have the final say in things.

The best thing you can do is to pay off the loan. Could you work like crazy and pay off the car in 6 months to a year?

The next best thing would be to sell the car. You will probably have to cover the depreciation out of pocket. You will also need to have some cash to buy a different car, but buy it for cash like you should have done in the first place.

The worst option and what most people opt for, which is why they are broke, is to seek to refinance the car. I am not sure why you would have to wait 6 months to a year to refinance, but unless you have truly horrific credit, a local bank or credit union will be happy for your business. Choose this option if you want to continue to be broke for the next five years or so.

Once any of those happen it will be easy to re-title the car in your name only provided you are on good terms with the girlfriend. It is just a matter of going to the local title office and her signing over her interest in the car.

My hope is that you understand the series of foolish decisions that you made in this vehicle purchase and avoid them in the future. Or, at the very least, you consciously make the decision to appear wealthy rather than actually being wealthy.

  • 5
    Your answer would be improved by toning down the insults and clarifying why refinancing or buying a car on credit are bad decisions.
    – Eric
    Jan 1 '17 at 2:31

Your arrangements with the bank are irrelevant. Whoever is named on the title of the vehicle owns it. If she is the "primary", then I assume her name is on the title, therefore she owns the car. If you drive off with the car and it is titled in her name, she can report it stolen and have you arrested for grand theft auto unless you have a dated and signed permission in writing from her to use the car.

Point #2: If a car loan was involved, then you didn't "purchase" the car, the bank did.

If you want to gain ownership of the car, then you need to have her name removed from the title and have yours put in its place. Since the bank has possession of the title, this will require the cooperation of both your girlfriend and the bank.

  • 6
    I think the middle and end part is plain wrong. The loan giver doesn't purchase cars, it gives loans that are used to purchase cars. The purchaser is still the owner, the loaning company is just a lien holder, meaning they have a right to get paid from the value of the car.
    – Aganju
    Dec 30 '16 at 11:25
  • @Aganju I was being a bit facetious, but in fact it is the bank that buys the car. The money goes from the bank directly to the dealer, and the legal owner of record on the title will be the bank. Dec 30 '16 at 12:30
  • 2
    @FiveBagger The usual practice is for the bank to hold a lien on the vehicle which would be impossible if they were the legal owner of record. By definition, a lien is a claim against another's property. Dec 30 '16 at 13:04
  • 1
    @FiveBagger Punch "car title" into google and search for images large enough to read. The first five I found all list the buyer under owner and the bank under "Lien Holder". I checked Texas, California, and Oklahoma, all are this way. Question is about Missouri, and this is the case there too. Dec 30 '16 at 21:36
  • 2
    @FiveBagger That's not what that statute says. It has three clauses. The first two don't apply (the first is where there's no lien, the second is where there's a lease). The third says the bank is the legal owner in the event they are entitled to possession, that is, when you don't pay the loan. Dec 30 '16 at 22:03

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