There is no minimum age at which to title and register a car in Iowa.
Your son should be able to title and register a vehicle in his name at age 15 or 16 if he has an Iowa instruction permit. He should also be able to get insurance, however he will need a parent to sign on the policy with him.
A representative of the Iowa Department of Transportation told us that there is no minimum age to title and register a car; you can have a vehicle in your name in IA if you are under 18 years of age under certain circumstances. She went on to say that under Iowa Law (Iowa Code Sections 321.1 and 321.20), if an applicant for registration and titling of a vehicle is under the age of 18 years and is the sole owner of the vehicle, an Iowa driver's license or Iowa permit is needed. So if your son has an instruction permit in his name already it appears he can own a car in his name.
At age 15 your son would not yet have an Iowa driver's license but he is old enough to have a learner's permit in his name. Iowa is one of the few states that allow a teen as young as 14 to get an instruction permit and start to drive. If your son has not yet started the graduated driver licensing (GDL) process in IA, he can start by obtaining the instruction permit with written approval from a parent or guardian after passing a vision screening and knowledge test.
Even if it is legal at age 15 or 16 to title and register a car in your own name, it can be difficult to buy a car at this age. Dealers and private parties typically do not want to write up a sales contract or bill of sales to a minor without a parent or guardian signing on it as well.
Typically a contract to purchase a vehicle signed by anyone younger than 18 is voidable. The minor can release themselves from the sales contract, return the vehicle, and recover the vehicle purchase price paid, even though the vehicle has been used and deteriorated in value. For this reason those selling vehicles do not usually want to do business with a minor unless an adult signs it so that the contract is with both parties and not voidable.
The same is true for car insurance companies since the policy so your son will need to check with automobile insurance companies to see if they will allow him to get a car insurance policy in Iowa at age 15 or 16 by himself.
Typically even if the state allows a minor to buy, register and title a car solely in their name most all car insurance companies will require a parent or guardian to sign on the policy along with the teenager since it is a legal contract. If your son only has his permit and not a full driver's license then a car insurance company would also normally require a fully licensed driver to be on the policy with him.
Once your son is fully licensed and 18 years of age he could carry the car insurance policy in his name only without the need to have a parent on the policy with him.
At CarInsurance.com we offer advice to teenage and young adult drivers and let you shop around for affordable car insurance. We offer multiple company insurance rates for personal auto insurance and the ability to purchase from one place; we are ahead of other online insurance companies.