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The Legal Requirements of Selling Your Car

4 min read

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By Tim Lee

More than 46,000 new and used automobiles are sold to individuals and families every day via businesses in the United States, but that doesn’t account for a robust private sales market. Selling your car yourself has numerous benefits, but if you don’t attend to the legal details involved in the process, you could negate those benefits by creating future hassle for yourself. Find out more about the legal requirements for selling your vehicle below, including a printable auto bill of sale.

Why Sell Your Car Yourself?

If you want to get rid of an automobile, you typically have a few options. You can trade it in for a newer model at a dealership, sell it for cash to a dealership or other business, or sell it yourself to another individual. All these methods come with pros and cons, but the biggest benefit of selling the car yourself is that you will likely get more money for it.

When you sell the car yourself, you can get closer to the blue book value of the car. If you sell it to a business, the business pays you much less than the actual value because it must build in a profit. Cutting out the “middle man” can leave more money for you.

Hilbert Hill/Unsplash

What Documents Do You Need to Legally Sell Your Car?

But selling a car yourself does mean you need to pay attention to details other than the price you’re able to get. For example, you need to have all of the right documentation to ensure the sale is legal and binding. Here’s a quick look at some of the documents you might need.

Parker Coffman/Unsplash
Stephen Goldberg/Unsplash

Fully documenting the sale of your vehicle is one of the best ways to protect yourself legally when transferring the ownership of a car, truck or other vehicle. Taking the time to complete a printable vehicle bill of sale and get it signed can help you prove everything about the transaction if you need to in the future, so it’s worth the extra time it takes.

But you should also follow simple common sense practices and ethics when selling a car yourself. For example, be honest when you advertise a vehicle and don’t try to cover up concerns about the car. You can sell a car as-is and document that you don’t accept any returns, but it’s not a good idea to sell a car based on a dishonest description.

Tip: Take the extra time and effort to document the sale of your vehicle, be truthful about its condition and abide by all state laws.
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Tim Lee



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