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What documents do I need to sell my car?

In most states, the minimum required to sell a car to others or use it as a trade-in at a car dealership is a clear title for the vehicle. You may also need to create a registration, file an odometer oath, and create a bill of sale that includes a vehicle description, mileage reading, selling price, and delivery date for your purchase. If your car is still under warranty, you will need to create a warranty card. It is useful to provide the purchaser with vehicle maintenance records, such as service records and receipts for major repairs.

Vehicle history report

Nowadays, few people buy a used car without looking at the car history report. When you place an ad for a car, you probably add the car’s identification number to the ad. VIN allows future buyers to look up the vehicle history. If you are the first owner of your car, that may be all you need. However, if this is not the case, we recommend that you review the vehicle history report yourself to prepare for questions from buyers.

Maintenance record

It’s easy to say in your ad that your car is well maintained, but it’s even better to have real proof of this. Regardless of whether you did your own maintenance or it did it at a dealer or repair shop, any kind of record is valuable to future buyers. If you do your own vehicle maintenance, a record of the parts you purchased will suffice.


If you still have a transferable warranty on your car, it’s a good idea to keep it handy as well. Making this available can also justify the higher price of your car. However, it is imperative that you have proof of this warranty so that potential buyers can see it. It’s also a good idea to have your contact information ready so that buyers can quickly contact the provider and get a warranty by name.

Current documentation

So you can protect yourself, make things clear to future buyers, and have something in writing to show that your car will be sold as-is. This means that we do not offer vehicle warranty or repurchase. By signing, you agree that you are solely responsible for the condition of the vehicle and future repairs. The problem is legal after you receive the payment and the vehicle changes hands.

Odometer reading

If the vehicle is less than 10 years old and weighs less than 12,000 pounds, the mileage truth law applies. This federal law requires anyone who sells a vehicle to disclose the odometer reading to the purchaser at the time of sale. Enforcement of this law may vary from state to state. In some states you can write your current mileage in the title, but in other states you will need to get a different form.

The odometer disclosure form typically requires the following:

  • Vehicle VIN, model year, manufacturer, model
  • Buyer’s name, address, signature
  • Seller’s signature
  • Current mileage
  • Notary’s seal or signature

Vehicle title

If your used car is free and clearly owned, you probably have the car title at hand. You can fill the space to transfer ownership and give it to the buyer. However, if the vehicle has a lien, the title may be owned by the bank or other lien owner. To promote sales in this situation, you need to call your bank or creditor to receive your current payment. Next, you need to work with the buyer to pay the bank and wait for the title to be sent.

Bill of sale

A bill of sale is generally not an absolute requirement, but it is a good idea to have it to release liability. This document contains comprehensive terms and conditions for sale. You can add a vehicle description, odometer reading, price, delivery date, status statement, and buyer and seller signatures. Notarization is also possible if desired. If you are notarizing, you will need to prove your identity, so please bring your driver’s license. In the event of a dispute after the sale, a signed sale certificate will protect you from any liability.

Sell ​​your car

Once you’re ready for the paperwork to sell your car, you’re ready to move on to logistics. Some things to consider include how to receive payments, prepare for complications, and ensure that your liability is limited. You also need to create a checklist of what you need to do to complete the sale.

A list like this looks like this:

  • Perform a smog test if needed in your state
  • Prepare an exemption form and submit it to your local DMV
  • Collect records of maintenance or parts and show them to the purchaser
  • If your state needs it, remove the license plate from the car
  • Remove all personal belongings, such as registrations and pink slips, from the glove compartment and elsewhere in the car.
  • Collect all keys and documents and transfer them to the new owner
  • Cancel car insurance

Receiving payment

One of the most important parts of selling a car is getting paid for your car. The easiest way to deal with this is to accept cash only. If the purchaser requests a receipt, you can submit a bill of sale. However, if the price of your car is well over $ 2,000, it is advisable to process your check with a check. The easiest way to make this transaction is for both the buyer and seller to go to the seller’s bank and complete the transfer. That way, it’s in a safe place and the buyer can be confident that everything is legal. For remote sales, you can use the escrow service to check the funds between the buyer and the seller.

Limit your liability

Have you ever wondered what would happen if someone bought your car and had an accident? Therefore, you need to cover the base as much as possible. The sale certificate and signed over title in your buyer’s hands will help. You can also immediately visit the DMV site to report that the vehicle has been sold. We also recommend that you cancel your insurance as soon as possible.

What about complications?

In another complex scenario, what if the buyer wants to contact you the next day and return the car? What if they claim they didn’t reveal a serious mechanical problem that suddenly appeared? The good news is that most states consider as-is sales to be the default. In other words, there is no post-sale warranty. It also means that it is the buyer’s responsibility to perform due diligence in the inspection of the vehicle. As a seller, you may want to encourage them to check it thoroughly. Another area where bills of sale are involved. If the buyer approves the car as-is, there is no reliance on their part.

Fair asking price setting

Keep in mind that when you start deciding on a price, you will probably have to submit a lower offer unless your car is in great demand. With this in mind, it is advisable to set the price just above the market price. Start by looking up the value of your car in the Kelley Blue Book and Edmonds. Next, it’s a good idea to check out sites like Craigslist to see what your car is for sale in your area. Another thing to consider is where to round. Many people search using the closest $ 1,000. For example, if you list a car for $ 6,200 and its value is less than $ 6,000, those buyers will not limit your search for $ 6,000. You might consider listing your car for $ 5,900 instead.

Curve appeal

It’s not just about selling homes. You don’t have to spend a fortune to repair everything in your car, but you should at least thoroughly wash and vacuum it. You want a car buyer to appear and immediately like the look of the car when it sits. It’s especially important if you have a pet in your car.

Take good pictures

The first impression a buyer may have is from an ad. Writing good ads is essential, but more importantly, high quality photos. Take pictures of your car from several different angles with good lighting. A photo of the interior with the door open, including the front and rear seats, if applicable. Take full shots from the sides of the vehicle and from the front and back. You can also consider engine shots and tire photos to show tread wear. It’s also a good idea to take a picture of the odometer to see the mileage you’re talking about. The lower view is not a bad idea either.

Where to list your car

There are many places to list your car online. Craigslist is very popular and available for just $ 5, but scams are still widespread. More specialized sites include Autotrader, eBay Motors, and CarGurus. If you are selling rare or special cars, we recommend that you consider various collector sites. Write in your ad details that may add value, such as options and recent upgrades.

Screen buyer

You can save time and effort by carefully reviewing all offers before returning to the buyer. In general, you should avoid things that sound common or that contact multiple lists at once. Lowball offers may also not be legal.

Set up a meeting

If you make a reasonable offer, set up a meeting place in a safe place and stay with someone else. Ride a test drive, but resist the temptation to sell them a car. Just answer the questions they may have or point out what they don’t know about the vehicle. Once everything is checked out, you can use the documents you have prepared to arrange payments and transfer ownership.

Contact your State Automobile Authority (DMV) by clicking on the appropriate link below to find more specific information for selling your car. What documents do I need to sell my car?

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