Most people in the United States keep their cars for about seven years. When it is time to buy a new car, you might want to sell your car first so that you have a down payment. The answer is that private car sales have different requirements in different states. Some require a bill of sale, and others do not. However, there are certain documents that are required and others that you should have, no matter where you are selling your vehicle.
- Car Title
All states require you to have a car title. This document shows that you are the legal owner of the car. It contains important information about the car, and it is the official record for the car. If you lose your title, you will be able to apply for a duplicate. There is a fee involved, but you can get one.
The title will show the name of the owner as well as any lien holders. It is not possible to change this information after the car is titled without filling out paperwork. In addition, when a car is totaled, the owner has to sign the title for the insurance company.
You will sign the title of your car, which is important and your signature needs to match your signature on your official id. The signature is important for protecting the title and making sure that somebody else doesn’t forge your signature.
Another item on the title is the VIN, which is the vehicle identification number of the car. It is 17 digits, and every vehicle has a unique VIN. The title will also contain the odometer reading and the date of purchase, as well as the vehicle’s weight class. This is one of the determining factors in the registration fees each year.
Finally, there is a section for assignments, which you use when you sell your car. You only get one chance to fill it out, so make sure that it is accurate. If you make a mistake, you will have to order a duplicate title, so be sure to get it right the first time.
- Bill of Sale
Some states require a bill of sale, but many do not. However, it is always a good idea to have one because it can protect both the buyer and the seller if there are any misunderstandings that come up. If you don’t have a bill of sale, the seller can take the car back or refuse to transfer the title. There are many reasons that a bill of sale is a good idea.
You should take it a step further and have the bill of sale notarized. Most cars are sold as-is, and the bill of sale is signed by the seller and the buyer and shows that both have agreed to the terms. This way, the buyer is not able to sue the seller later on for a tire that went flat or some other repair that needs to be made.
- Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability
Many states require this document, although some do not. This is a notice that informs the Motor Vehicles department that you have transferred or sold the car. This notice will ensure that the seller is not held accountable for any parking tickets, traffic tickets, or civil or criminal situations that may occur with the car.
Most of the time, only the seller needs to file this notice. It is a good idea to check and see what your state’s requirements are before you sell your car.
- Emissions Tests
Some states require emissions testing, and others do not. In fact, in California, you may need a smog certificate if the car is more than four years old. Make sure that you have a copy of your emissions testing report for the buyer if it is required in your state.
- Warranty Information
If the car has any existing warranties, you need to be prepared to transfer them to the new owner. Warranties provide value to the new owner, and you may be able to sell your car for more money if you have one. Most warranties are attached to the VIN of the vehicle, so they will go with the car when you sell it.
- Your State Requirements
Different states will have different rules and regulations, so be sure to check with your state to find out if there is anything else that you might need before you sell your car. For example, California’s smog certificate is specific to California laws. Some states may require a bill of sale, and others do not, but you should have one anyway for protection of both you and the buyer.
- Lien Release
If your car was financed, you will need to obtain a lien release once it is paid off. Most banks automatically send this to you, but you should make sure that you have it. If you have just paid off your car, you will need to submit this document to receive the title that is free and clear.
- Vehicle History Report
When you are selling your car, you are not required to have a vehicle history report, but it will help. You can order one from CarFax, and it will help to give your buyer confidence that they are buying a good car. Having this information on hand will give buyers confidence that your car is a good choice among their selections.
It is important to gather your paperwork prior to selling your car, and you should check the requirements in your state to make sure that you have gathered all of the necessary items. When you find your buyer, you will not want to waste time looking for this information.
Selling a car in the United States can be fairly uncomplicated, but you need to gather your paperwork before you make the sale. You can take steps to ensure that your car is sold quickly by having the required paperwork ready before you find your buyer.