Car Buying

What Paperwork Do You Need to Sell Your Car Privately?

When selling your car, you want to be sure you are going about the process legally and in a fair way to inform a potential buyer. What documents do you need in order to accomplish that? Find out here.

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3 minutes

Date

05.31.2023

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When it is time to sell your car, you have options: trade it in, sell it to a dealer, or sell it privately. If you choose to go the private route, learn what documents you need to complete the sale safely and legally. Overall, selling your car privately takes work, but the payoffs are high. 

How to sell a car privately

Here are the steps you need to do to sell a car privately. Remember, selling a car privately involves interacting with strangers, so use caution during this process. Meet potential buyers in a public place and consider bringing a friend or family member for added safety.


  1. Figure out the car's value: Start by researching the market value of your car to establish a fair selling price. Factors such as the car's make, model, year, mileage, condition, and any additional features will influence its value. 
  2. Gather necessary documents: Locate and organize all relevant paperwork for your car, including the title, registration, maintenance records and any warranties. Ensure that the title is in your name.
  3. Prepare the car: Clean the car thoroughly, both inside and out. Consider getting the car professionally detailed to enhance its appearance. Fix any minor issues and perform basic maintenance like an oil change or replacing worn-out tires if necessary.
  4. Advertise the car: Take high-quality photos that showcase the car's exterior, interior and any notable features. Write a detailed description that highlights the car's condition, history and unique selling points. Utilize online platforms like Craigslist, AutoTrader, or local classified ads to reach a broader audience.
  5. Respond to inquiries: Be prompt and professional when responding to inquiries from interested buyers. Provide accurate information about the car, its history, and any additional details they may request. Arrange a time in a public setting for them to inspect the car or take it for a test drive.
  6. Conduct test drives: Accompany potential buyers on test drives. Before the drive, ensure they have a valid driver's license and are properly insured. Set a predetermined route that includes various road conditions to showcase the car's performance. Stay cautious during the test drive and address any concerns or questions the buyer may have.
  7. Negotiate and finalize the sale: Be prepared for negotiations on the price. Set a realistic bottom line and be willing to compromise. Once you and the buyer agree on a price, complete the sale paperwork. Sign the title over to the buyer and provide a bill of sale, ensuring you keep copies for your records. Make sure to follow your state's regulations regarding transferring ownership.
  8. Payment and transfer of ownership: Accept a secure form of payment, such as cash or a cashier's check. Verify the funds before handing over the car and its documents. Once payment is complete, remove the license plates from the vehicle (unless otherwise required by your local regulations) and cancel your insurance coverage. Provide the buyer with a receipt acknowledging the transaction.

7 documents needed to sell a car privately

For a successful sale of your car, have these documents ready and in order: 

1. Vehicle title

The title, also known as the pink slip, is the most crucial document when selling a car. It proves ownership and allows for the transfer of ownership to the buyer. Make sure the title is in your name, as some states require it to match the seller's identification.

2. Bill of sale

While not always mandatory, a bill of sale serves as a legal document that records the details of the sale. It includes information about the buyer, seller, vehicle identification number (VIN), purchase price, date of sale, and signatures of both parties. It provides proof of the transaction and protects both the buyer and seller.

3. Release of liability

Some states require a release of liability form or notice to be completed by the seller. This form notifies the state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that you are no longer responsible for the vehicle's operation, registration and insurance. It protects you from any liability associated with the car once it's sold.

4. Maintenance and repair records

While not a legal requirement, providing maintenance and repair records can enhance the value and credibility of your vehicle. It shows the buyer that you have taken care of the car and can help justify the asking price.

5. Vehicle history report

Although optional, providing a vehicle history report from services like Carfax or AutoCheck can provide transparency about the car's past. It includes information on accidents, title status, mileage and other important details that can build trust with potential buyers.

6. Odometer disclosure statement

In most cases, you will need to complete an odometer disclosure statement. This document certifies the mileage of the vehicle at the time of sale. It helps prevent odometer fraud and is required by federal law.

7. Warranty documents

If your car is still covered by a manufacturer's warranty or an extended warranty, gather all relevant warranty documents and transfer information to provide to the buyer.

Final thoughts

When selling your car, it is imperative that you have the correct documentation and paperwork in order. To avoid having to sell a car in the future, consider a FINN car subscription. 


With FINN, once you are ready for a new or different vehicle, there is no need to go through the process of selling the car. Browse through the available vehicles to find the next car you want to take on the road. 

What Paperwork Do You Need to Sell Your Car Privately
What Paperwork Do You Need to Sell Your Car Privately

Final thoughts

When selling your car, it is imperative that you have the correct documentation and paperwork in order. To avoid having to sell a car in the future, consider a FINN car subscription. 


With FINN, once you are ready for a new or different vehicle, there is no need to go through the process of selling the car. Browse through the available vehicles to find the next car you want to take on the road.