What Paperwork Do I Need To Sell My Car Privately?

If you are looking to get the best value for your car, you will need to sell it privately. Unlike in dealerships where you get a wholesale price, you will have a chance to set your price in a private sale, allowing you to get the maximum possible income. In today’s world when you can easily create and post ads online to create attention and attract a large pool of buyers, you should not settle for a lower amount for your car.

The process of selling your vehicle privately is no longer difficult. You only need to create an attractive ad to sell your car. Furthermore, it will not take long to sell your car if you take advantage of social media platforms and car listing websites.

It is possible to create an ad and get offers on the same day. However, you will need to know how to negotiate the price and prepare your car for a private sale. This article focuses on what paperwork do I need to sell my car privately and tips on how to sell a car to a private buyer quickly.

What Paperwork Do I Need To Sell My Car Privately?

Before you can create a car selling ad, you should make sure that you have all paperwork necessary to sell a car. Putting all the paperwork in order will help make sure that you have all the answers to questions buyers may ask.

Furthermore, a change of ownership will happen smoothly when you have all the documents ready. The answer to what paperwork do I need to sell my car privately will vary among states, but the essential paperwork you should have for a seamless and safe transaction include:

1. Title

A title is a document that shows that you are the owner of the car you intend to sell. Your car title will have your name and a signature section for a private sale. What happens when you do not have a car title? If you buy a car through financing, you will not have the title until you clear the loan.

Unfortunately, with most people buying their cars through longer loans to benefit from lower monthly payments, very few individuals are able to complete their loan repayment by the time they choose to upgrade to a new car.

However, that does not mean that you cannot sell your car privately. You should contact the lien holder and ask about the remaining loan balance. The financing institution will quote the amount you should clear to get the title.

You can pay off the amount, or work it out with the buyer to make the payment to the lienholder and wait for the title to be sent over. If you have lost the title, you can apply for a duplicate and replace the lost title.

2. Bill of sale

Some states do not require you to have a bill of sale before you can sell your car privately, but it is beneficial to have a bill of sale for protection. It describes the condition of the vehicle, date of sale, price, and other transaction details. You may be required to have a bill of sale if the title does not have odometer disclosure or other essential details.

It is always necessary to ensure that both parties have signed the document as proof that you have an agreement. The document protects both parties by ensuring that the sale went as agreed. It is written evidence of the agreement, making it impossible to turn around and claim you lied about certain aspects of the deal.

3. Notice of transfer

The buyer can drive the vehicle upon making payment. What happens if the buyer gets into an accident when the car is still in your name? A release of liability or notice of transfer is a document that protects you from liabilities after a sale. You will need to inform the DMV and submit a Notice of Transfer. You should provide the document immediately you agree to a sale to avoid inconveniences.

4. History report

A history report is a critical document for buyers of second-hand cars. The report shows all the essential details of the car, like the previous owners and minor and major accidents if any.

Although buyers can get a vehicle history report copy for their reference, providing one during the sale process will help quicken the decision-making. A history report will also help you to prepare answers buyers may need to know before completing the sale agreement.

5. Warranty documents

If your car is still under warranty, you will need to have the documents on hand as proof. The presence of warranty documents can help you justify a higher price for the vehicle. You should not withhold the warranty information, especially since it is transferable. Make sure to include the contact information to allow the buyer to change the warranty to their name after a sale.

6. Maintenance records

Although the maintenance records are not a must, they can help you sell your car more quickly. Every buyer of a second-hand car will need to know whether you have been taking good care of the vehicle. Maintenance records help potential buyers to see how well you have been taking care of the car. Ensure all details, including the parts you have bought for the vehicle are in the report.

7. Odometer reading

Selling a car that is no more than ten years old and weighs not more than 12,000 pounds requires you to disclose the odometer reading to the buyer at the point of sale. You can follow up with your state to find out how Mileage Act applies to you as the execution varies by state. Some states make it mandatory to include the mileage on the title, while others want you to fill a separate form.

8. Emissions testing

Some states require a mandatory annual emission test, particularly in urban areas. You will need to ensure that your car passes safety and emissions requirements before you can create selling ads. Very few people will be willing to buy a car without emission testing.

How To Sell Your Car To A Private Party Quickly And Earn More?

Selling your car privately is not difficult and offers the best value for your vehicle. However, you will need to learn how you can maximize the value and quicken the selling process. You will need to take the following steps to sell your car to a private party quickly and earn more:

1. Prepare your car for sale

You will need to first access your vehicle’s condition before listing it for sale. A thorough inspection by a mechanic can help you know the mechanical state of your car. Find about the potential problems and the ones that need fixing. Some of the issues you should check before a sale include:

  • Brake problems
  • Transmission issues
  • Suspension problems
  • Electrical issues
  • Emissions system failures
  • Engine problems
  • Electrical issues

An older car will likely have more problems than the newer one. Once you find the existing problems, you can choose to fix them or inform the buyer. You should think carefully about what you should do as your action will impact how you sell your car.

For minor issues, fixing them is better as it allows you to sell the vehicle in the best possible condition. However, if the problems are expensive to fix, you can inform the buyer and in return accept a lower amount. Some of the things you should do before selling your vehicle include:

  • Take everything out of the trunk and interiors
  • Thoroughly clean your car, including interiors
  • Change oil
  • Get rid of interior odors
  • Keep all maintenance receipts and records in a folder
  • Return informational materials like manuals to the car

2. Create an eye-catching ad for maximum exposure

Once your car is ready for sale, you will need to create and promote a compelling advert. The content and format of your ad will vary by the medium, but you should ensure that it is attention-grabbing. The format of the ad will be determined by the medium as different sites tend to have different requirements.

Nevertheless, the advert should showcase the exterior and interiors of your vehicle. Take several copious exterior photos from different angles. You may zoom in on special features that you would like to showcase, like aftermarket rims, fancy headlights, and spoilers. You can use a photo editor to blur your license plate. Your ad should have:

  • Exterior photos from different angles
  • Interior shots highlighting noteworthy features
  • Price
  • Highlight features
  • Description of your car

Creating a compelling listing is one part of marketing. Once it is ready, it is time to give it maximum exposure. You should place the ad on all marketing sites you can think of to attract more potential buyers.

A higher exposure will help you sell the car quickly and even get a better value. However, some places might be more appropriate than others and thus, they should get the priority. Some of the best places to place your ad include:

  • Free online classified
  • Social media
  • Local media classified
  • Online marketplaces

3. Deal with prospective buyers

A well-placed, eye-catching ad will start attracting prospective buyers immediately. It is necessary to specify your preferred means of communication in your advert. You should ensure the specified means of communication are always open.

Respond to every buyer’s initial outreach in the shortest time possible. Text and email are the preferred means of communication as the exchange is in written form. In case of a phone call, you should write down the exchange for future reference.

Once you and a potential buyer are satisfied with your communication exchange, you should invite the buyer for a road test and physical viewing of the car. Very few people will be willing to make an offer without a test drive and thus, you should prepare in advance to meet new strangers.

Meeting strangers and even allowing them to drive your car is tricky and can put your safety in jeopardy. You should go an extra length to ensure your physical safety.

You can ask a friend to accompany you whenever you are meeting a stranger. Also, you should also not allow a group of friends to take the car for a test drive. Instead, insist on the buyer to accompany you for a road test drive. Although every meet-up will likely be unique, you can protect yourself when meeting prospective buyers by taking the following steps:

  • Remove valuables and personal items from the car
  • Meet buyers in a busy public place
  • Do not carry extra cash and credit cards
  • Request the company of a friend or a relative
  • Let other people know about the test drive route
  • Only allow one driver into the car
  • Set a time limit for a test drive
  • Trust your intuition

4. Complete the transaction

If the buyer is satisfied with your car, it is time to close the deal. How you will close the sale will depend on several factors, but negotiation skills are essential at this stage. The buyer will not likely pay your asking price unless you have strictly indicated that the amount is non-negotiable. Unfortunately, a firm selling price will not help you quickly sell your car.

It is beneficial to give yourself a negotiation room when setting the asking price. Set yourself the lowest amount you can accept for the vehicle and negotiate for the best value above the bottom dollar. Once you agree on a price, you should prepare the paperwork for payment and transfer of ownership. The steps that you should take to finalize a private sale include:

  1. Confirm payment
  2. Prepare the title for transfer
  3. Visit the closest motor vehicle registry with the buyer to formally sign over the title
  4. Notify the appropriate state authorities
  5. Notify your insurance company


Knowing in advance what paperwork do I need to sell my car privately will help you make the sale process smooth. It will also show that you are serious about the sale to a prospective buyer. Furthermore, it allows you to take the advantage of the buyer’s emotions as you can transfer the car immediately after a test drive.

If it takes longer after a test drive to change ownership, the buyer could find another vehicle and thus, abandon the sale process, which can be frustrating if you are looking for a quick sale.

CarsPlan Admin

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