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Summary
  • A car sale usually requires the title, bill of sale, and odometer reading.
  • You can also provide the buyer with the warranty information, vehicle history report, records of your car’s service and maintenance, and the owner’s and service manuals.

Are you selling your car or truck? Whether your buyer is a private individual or a dealership, you must provide them with specific documents, such as a title. Depending on the state where you are selling your car, you might be required to provide other documents. There are also documents that can make you a more credible seller, help you find the best offers, and secure deals faster. Let’s look at the paperwork you need to sell your vehicle.

What Paperwork Do I Need to Sell My Car?

No matter where you sell your car, you must always present your buyer with the car title, bill of sale, and odometer reading when you complete the sale.

Car Title

The title represents your right to ownership over your car. It proves that you’re the legal owner with the right to sell it.

Car titles include a section that covers ownership transfer. When you sell your car to a private buyer, you must fill out the relevant section of the document.

States like Kentucky, Louisiana, and Montana require a notarized car title when you sell your car to private individuals. The details can vary between states; Louisiana requires the notarization of the signatures of all parties. Meanwhile, Kentucky and Montana only require a notarized seller’s signature. Consult the nearest Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in the state you’re selling the car.

Many cars have loans on them. If you have completely paid off the loan, the bank or lender will transfer the car title to you. Alternatively, the lender might send the lien release if they cannot reissue the title.

Are you still paying the vehicle loan? Approach the bank or lender that owns the car title, inform them about the sale, and get the payoff on the loan. Furthermore, you must pay off the entire loan before transferring the car title to the buyer.

Is your car title damaged or nowhere to be found? Apply for a duplicate at your state DMV and wait for the new title before making the sale. Most states don’t allow vehicle sales without a title. They will also bar the buyer from applying for a duplicate title or registering their new vehicle.

Depending on the state that issued it, the car title might also have a section that you can tear off. It’s a transaction record for the seller after transferring the title to the buyer. Fill out the section and bring it to the Department of Revenue (DOR) to show that the vehicle isn’t your property. Once the DOR recognizes the change in ownership, you can stop paying the vehicle’s property taxes.

If the car title has more than one owner, all legal owners must sign the document for a complete transfer. The only exception are Transfer On Death (TOD) beneficiaries.

Bill of Sale

A bill of sale puts the sale’s terms and conditions in writing. It records the vehicle transaction between you and the buyer. Both you and the buyer can have a copy of the bill of sale.

Visit your local DMV’s website for a bill of sale form that you can download. Fill out the bill of sale with the following information:

Some states and transaction types require a notarized bill of sale. Either ask your local DMV office or visit their website to see if you need to get notarization for the bill.

Odometer Reading

The odometer reading shows how many miles the vehicle has traveled. It plays a considerable role in determining the value of the vehicle. Federal law requires all car sellers to present an accurate odometer reading to the buyer during the sale.

States might have different stances on the odometer reading during car sales. Some are fine with the reading on the vehicle’s title or bill of sale. Other states require the reading on a separate form. If you’re unsure where your state stands on odometer readings, consult with your local DMV.

If you own an older vehicle, it might have a five-digit odometer. This earlier type of odometer might lose accuracy after rolling over 100,000 miles. Fortunately, you usually don’t have to add their odometer readings to the car title.

You might need an Identification Number/Odometer Reading (ID/OD) form to transfer the vehicle title to a different state. The buyer must fill out the ID/OD form at a certified state inspection station or with the police to prove that the vehicle’s mileage matches the figures in the title.

Make Car Sales Easier With These Documents

These documents aren’t usually required by law. However, they can make the car sale faster and easier for both you and the buyer.

Warranty Information

Does your vehicle still have its new purchase or extended warranty? See if you can transfer the contract to the buyer. A transferable warranty will raise your vehicle’s value. More people will want your car, and they will pay more for it.

If you cannot transfer the warranty or its coverage is over, tell the buyer about it. You want them to make an informed decision about buying your car.

Vehicle History Report

The vehicle history report contains a wealth of data about your car. Its contents include previous owners and their locations, accidents, damage, repairs, and manufacturer recalls. Many buyers would like to know about their potential purchase, so the vehicle history report can draw their interest.

You can get vehicle history reports from the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System website. Enter your vehicle’s VIN to bring up its history. Most vehicle history providers charge you for their services.

Service and Maintenance Records

Gather the receipt sets and service summaries that show you diligently maintained and cared for your vehicle. The service and maintenance records can reassure the buyer about your vehicle’s condition, which increases its value.

Owner’s and Service Manuals

When you sell your vehicle, throw in the owner’s manual that came with your car. Sure, you can probably find a soft copy of the manual online. However, a physical copy can prove invaluable in emergencies, such as if the vehicle breaks down in a remote area without internet access.

If you’ve bought service manuals for your vehicle, consider transferring them as well to increase the car’s value even more.

Gift Affidavit

If you’re gifting your car to an individual or a charity, you will need a gift affidavit. A gift affidavit states that the vehicle was given to the recipient as a gift. It proves that there was no payment required during the transfer. You usually need a gift affidavit to save the recipient from paying car sale taxes.

You can make a great impression on the buyer by having the legally required documents and the recommended paperwork ready as early as possible. And always keep the car title, bill of sale, and odometer reading on you.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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