What do I need to do to sell my car?
The time has come for you to sell your car and, naturally, you've got questions.
There are a few obvious ones -
- What documents do I need to sell my car?
- Can I sell my car if the registration has expired?
- Can I sell a car on which I still owe money?
These questions may seem daunting, but in actual fact, the answers are fairly straightforward.
What documents do a need to sell my car?
The single key document you will need is a proof of ownership. Obviously, the state and the dealer will want to know that you are the owner of the vehicle and that you do, indeed, have the right to sell the car. The document you are most likely to have to hand is the title. If you have this, it's easy to just sign it over to the dealer. The dealer will also have all the forms to accompany the sale of a car using the title. If you do not have the title you must visit any DMV office and apply for a duplicate title by completing a Vehicle Registration/Title Application.
You'll also want to accompany the proof of ownership with an original bill of sale. This can take almost any form, as most DMVs do not supply official bills of sale. It needs to include the name of the buyer and the seller, the VIN of the vehicle in question, the date, the make and model of the vehicle and the price.
If the car is currently registered, you'll want to bring the registration documents with you. Once you have finalized the sale, make sure to remove the license plates and the registration sticker. That way you will not be liable for tickets the next owner may get.
If the car is paid off, you'll want to have the lien release document. This is a document sent by the lien-holder (usually a bank or finance company) once the car is paid off. It notes to VIN and the date of the final payment and officially releases the car from the lien. You can still sell the car if there is money owed on it (see below)
Almost all other paper work related to the sale of a car can be provided by the used car dealer.
Can I sell my car if the Registration has expired?
If the car is not registered or you cannot find the registration, a visit to the DMV will help. There you can get a Vehicle Registration/Title Application, or a Certification of Registration for Transfer of Non-Titled Vehicle. You could also use an original Affidavit of Sale or a Manufacturers Certificate of Origin. In some situations you can use an expired registration certificate.
Each state is has different rules about the finer points, but the answer to the question is yes, you can sell an unregistered car or a car for which you do not have the tags. The dealer will be able to help you figure out exactly which form you can use.
Can I sell a car on which I still owe money?
The dealer will arrange to pay off the money due on the car. This money will be deducted from the amount given to you for the car. Thus, if you agree on a price of $6,000 for the car and you still owe $4,000 on it, the dealer will pay you $4000 and give you the remaining $2000. You'll need to bring along the paperwork relating to the loan if you can. The payments coupon book will do, or at a minimum, you need to know that name of the institution which is financing the car. They will be able to look up the car by the VIN and then figure out the exact amount due.
Of course, the amount will be less than the figure in your coupon book. That's because you will be paying it off early and therefore paying less in interest. Cars which are still on lease are handled in much the same way. This is one of the great advantages of selling your car to a used car dealer. Because this is all they do, they are experts in doing business with the financiers and are able to get the paperwork done much more quickly. Often, when it is time to sell your car, the whole transaction can take as little as fifteen minutes.
A long-time New York used car dealer has a useful article about when it's time to sell your car. Most reputable dealers will make sure that everything is in order before you walk out, but this checklist will help you get to that point.