A lack of inventory has boosted used car values, which means selling your car now could fetch more money than you expect. Assuming you already have a plan to replace your car, the extra money from the sale can go a long way. When preparing to sell in the current landscape, time is of the essence—especially if you’re keeping an eye on a new vehicle. Make sure you’re ready to hand over the keys when you make a good bid by collecting essential documents like the car’s title and sales invoice.
Related: How to transfer ownership when selling your car
There are also a few additional items that are not required to sell a car but can increase the car’s value in the eyes of the buyer: the vehicle’s history report, maintenance records, and extended warranty details. Having all of your documents in a row before you list the car or head to the dealership translates to a faster sale (and possibly more cash in your pocket).
The most important document you will need when selling a car is the address; Trying to sell a car without being a challenge. The title is legal proof of ownership and includes details such as the make and model of the vehicle, year and vehicle identification number. Selling a car privately without proof of ownership is illegal in many states, plus you may be held liable for any traffic violations and tolls incurred by the new owner. If you lose the address, you will need to find or exchange it before selling.
If you still owe money on the car, the lien holder will likely have it listed in the title and may actually hold title until the loan is paid off. If you trade in your car, the dealer can handle the payment details for the lender and get the title deed. Selling privately without a title deed requires more steps: you’ll need to get the bonus amount from the lender and define transaction protocols.
Some states also require the seller to provide an invoice of sale to the buyer. The bill of sale usually includes information such as the vehicle identification number, a detailed description of the vehicle, the date of sale, and the purchase price; It must be signed by both parties when selling the vehicle. Unlike a transfer of ownership, a bill of sale does not legally transfer ownership of a vehicle. Instead, it sets out the terms of the sale and acts as a receipt for the buyer and a waiver of liability for the seller. Even if a bill of sale isn’t required in your state, it’s smart to complete one. Templates are available for download on DMV websites for most states.
When selling a car privately, presenting some additional documents can give the buyer more confidence, help the car sell faster and possibly increase its value. These items include the vehicle’s history report, maintenance records, and any transferable warranties.
The Vehicle History Report uses the vehicle’s VIN number to pull information such as the number of previous owners, total mileage, and any previous accident or repair history. Sharing vehicle maintenance records with the buyer shows that you have been diligent with routine maintenance and repairs, giving them insight into the vehicle’s reliability. Don’t worry if you haven’t saved all of your maintenance receipts, you can call your service department and ask them to share the records with you.
Finally, if the vehicle is still under the manufacturer’s warranty, the remaining warranty coverage can be transferred to the new owner, providing reassurance and added value to the sale. While a factory warranty is tied to a vehicle’s VIN number and should automatically pass to the new owner, transferring an extended warranty to a third party involves more steps — and sometimes a fee. Gather your warranty details, including the warranty company’s contact information, and then ask about the steps for moving it when you’re ready to sell the car.
proof of sale
After you successfully sell your car, there may be another document to complete in order to waive all liability: Some states require that you report the vehicle sale to the DMV within a specified number of days. For example, California sellers have five days to complete the Notice of Transfer and Disclaimer form, which can be found on the DMV website; Illinois sellers must complete a Notice of Sale form once the vehicle sale becomes final. Be sure to check your state’s DMV for post-sale paperwork requirements.
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