What Paperwork Do I Need to Sell My Car?
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When it's time to get behind the wheel of something new to you, you'll probably want to sell your old car.
Selling your vehicle to a private party typically nets you top dollar, giving you a nice amount of money toward your next one.
But selling your car isn't as simple as money changing hands and a new owner driving off in your used car.
Many steps are involved in selling a vehicle privately, and following each one ensures you receive the best price and meet local regulations.
Among those steps is filling out paperwork to ensure the sale is above board to cover all the administrative technicalities.
What are the required documents for selling a car? What do you need to sell a car?
Let's look at the details of selling your car to a private party and the documents you'll need to have on hand.
How to sell a car privately
If you decide to sell your vehicle privately, you'll probably receive more money than if you trade in.
However, selling a car to a private party entails many tasks that can take considerable time.
First, you have to take detailed photos from multiple angles so potential buyers have a good idea of the condition of your vehicle.
Visiting online resources like Shift's free estimate calculator can help you determine a fair value for your used car.
Then you need to post an advertisement and wait for interested parties to contact you.
Once someone shows interest, you have to answer all of their questions before agreeing on a purchase price, as well as a public location for pickup. And even once all of those steps are complete, you'll need to fill out numerous documents like the title transfer and bill of sale.
All in all, a private sale can be a time-consuming process that could take weeks or even months before you find a buyer.
Though buying or leasing your next vehicle is fun, selling your old one can be a hassle. But Shift makes selling your car easy. All you'll have to do is enter the make, model, year, and mileage on Shift's easy-to-use website, and you'll instantly receive a purchase offer that's valid for seven days. You can get a fair offer, better than at the dealership, driven by powerful machine learning algorithms and tons of data.
And with Shift there is no need to spend the extra time waxing and washing the car. A little dirt won't affect the quote, as we fully detail the cars ourselves before listing them for sale. You can then browse Shift's user-friendly website for various makes and models to suit your needs and budget. And when you need an auto loan, Shift works with a network of trusted lenders who compete for your business, so you get the best deal on financing.
What paperwork do I need to sell my car privately?
Depending upon which state you live in, documentation requirements vary for a private sale.
But no matter the state, you'll need a clean and clear title to transfer to the new owner. The vehicle title demonstrates that you're the vehicle's legal owner, ensuring no one else can claim it as their own.
A clean title is in good condition, easy to read, and with all the vehicle info listed correctly. Additionally, a clean title won't have a lien against it. Some states mandate the attachment of a statement by the lienholder noting you've paid off the loan.
If you're still making payments on an auto loan and your title has a lien, you'll first need to pay off the balance before trying to sell your car. And if you misplaced the title or it's no longer legible, you'll need to apply for a replacement with your Department of Motor Vehicles.
Many states also require a signed bill of sale. Some state DMVs provide a standardized form, simplifying the process. But whether you use a bill of sale from the DMV or draw one up yourself, it has to include the following information:
- Make and model
- Year of manufacture
- Sale price
- Odometer reading at the time of sale
- Signatures of both the buyer and seller
- Name and address of both parties
To finalize the transaction, you may have to file a report of sale. At the completion of the sales process, you'll need to report it to the state. Though not mandated in all locations, it's a legal requirement in those that do. In that situation, the seller must file a report of sale within days or weeks to meet their obligation.
Buying a used car can save you thousands. But where can you go for not only a great deal but a quality vehicle? Shift offers fair, no-haggle prices driven by powerful machine learning algorithms and tons of data. And at Shift, certified mechanics perform extensive 150-point inspections on every car sold, and you get a free Carfax report for the ultimate in transparency. Shift's website has a large selection of fully inspected vehicles located across the country that are ready to go. The website is user-friendly, and you'll be able to find various makes and models to suit your needs and budget. Want to take a test drive before you buy? If you live in one of Shift's many service areas, a concierge will drive to you, letting you get a feel for the performance before signing the papers.
Additional documents for selling a car
Some states require extra paperwork beyond a clean title and a signed bill of sale.
In those locales mandating emissions inspections, you'll have to provide documentation demonstrating your vehicle's passed the required tests before completing a sale. And in some states, you'll also need to have the emissions inspection performed a set number of days before the transaction goes through.
However, if you own a hybrid vehicle or a classic car more than 25 years old, you don't have to worry about this step.
Often, states call for safety inspections to deem a car safe and roadworthy. Typical components checked are the turn signals, tires, brakes, and other possible problem areas. In these locations, your vehicle must have an up-to-date inspection before you sign the bill of sale and transfer it to a new owner.
When you sell your car, other helpful paperwork includes warranty information, maintenance records, and a vehicle history report.
Though not required, each can further reassure potential buyers and put them on the road to a good ownership experience.
2015 Honda CR-V LX (from $17,950)
What is required to sell a car in summary
When you sell your used vehicle, it's essential to pay attention to the necessary paperwork and be sure you meet state regulations.
No matter where you live, you'll need a clear title showing you as the legal owner so that you can transfer it to the next one.
And you'll also probably have to have a signed bill of sale with pertinent information to provide to your state DMV.
At the completion of the sales process, you may need to report the transaction to your state to meet local rules.
Other documents that can reassure buyers include the warranty information, maintenance records, and a vehicle history report.
Remember, in short, the more relevant paperwork you have, the easier it is to sell your car.
2013 Hyundai Sonata Limited (from $14,100)
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April 15, 2022
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