What You Need to Know Before You Transfer Car Titles

Two men exchange car keys

Do you want to sell your car but don’t know where to start? 

You have probably treated your car well, including protecting it with the right insurance. However, when the time comes to buy a new vehicle, you need to figure out what to do with the old one. 

Getting rid of a car means understanding how to transfer car titles, but many drivers don’t know how to get started. Ready to transfer your own title? Keep reading to discover how to get started! 

How Does Transferring a Car Title Work? 

The transfer involves the buyer first releasing ownership of the automobile by signing its title, then the buyer returns it to the DMV. From there, the new owner of the car can get their own new registration and title. 

Throughout the process, there may be other paperwork you need to fill out, including a bill of sale for the original car. You may also need to pay certain fees. The rest of our guide will walk you through everything you need to know, and don’t forget: You need to keep the vehicle in good condition until it is in someone else’s hands! 

Here are some helpful steps to take when selling your car.

Check That You’re the Official Owner 

Before you do anything else, it’s important to check your car’s existing title to determine whose name is printed on there. The answer may determine whether you can move forward with the transfer or not. 

As long as your name is the only one on the title, then the automobile is yours to do with as you please. If a bank or lender’s name is on there, though, it means you still owe money on the vehicle’s loan or the financer neglected to remove its name when you paid it off. 

If this is the case and you are still interested in making a sale, we recommend you contact the lender. They can most likely walk you through how to proceed after you finish making payments, and they may have tips on how to save on insurance for your next car. 

Consult With the DMV When Selling a Vehicle 

While nobody likes visiting the DMV, you will still need to consult with them about the exact requirements for selling your automobile to someone else. This is important because some states require more documentation (such as the current sale value of the car, the current odometer reading, etc.). The DMV can also tell you whether or not your signature on the paperwork needs to be witnessed by a notary public. 

The earlier you get this information, the quicker you can get the vehicle in someone else’s hands. If you wait too long to get this info, it might disrupt your attempts to sell or trade the car to someone else. Remember not to let your coverage lapse during this time. 

Create a Bill of Sale 

If your state requires a bill of sale to facilitate the transfer, it’s easy to make one. You need to create a form that has your name and address, the sale price of the car, the date of the sale, and the current odometer reading. You may also want to include the VIN, terms of sale (such as the vehicle being sold “as is”), and the buyer’s contact info and signature. 

This info is typically only required if you are making a sale to another driver. If you are instead selling or trading the vehicle into a dealership, they will take care of much of the paperwork to make the process easier for you (more on this later). 

People exchanging a car title

Be Very Careful When Filling Out Paperwork During a Car Sale 

Being very careful with the paperwork is just as important as being careful on the road. Due to how important this paperwork is, even a small mistake can mess up your attempts at transferring ownership. 

That’s because you are dealing with a legal document. Should you make any mistake, it’s not appropriate to try to erase it or white out the mistake. Instead, you must request a correction form or affidavit with the corrected info and then have that correction properly notarized. 

In the worst case, you may be forced to order a brand new title and begin the process all over again. Because this can slow down your efforts to get rid of the old vehicle, we recommend you avoid paperwork mistakes at all costs. 

Pay Auto Sales Fees as Needed 

In most states, you will pay a certain amount in fees to complete your transfer. Exactly how much you pay in fees depends on the state. 

The most likely fees you will pay are the transfer and title fees. But you may also have to pay a sales, use, and property tax depending on the state. Depending on where you live, the total cost of a transfer may be around $20 or even over $100, so we recommend checking with your DMV and tax office before proceeding with the sale. 

Buyer’s Responsibilities When Purchasing a Car From a Private Owner 

Remember that transferring ownership is a two-step process. Once you have signed the title and given it to the buyer, the buyer must take the next steps to take ownership. 

This primarily involves the buyer taking the signed paperwork to the DMV and/or tax office and registering the vehicle in their name. It is recommended that you accompany the buyer on this task, since if it is not done, you can be held legally responsible if the vehicle is involved in tickets, crimes or other mishaps.  

The Next Steps You Need To Take When Selling Your Car 

Let’s say you have successfully completed the transfer. What are the next steps you should take? 

First, you may wish to touch base with the buyer and see if they need any help taking ownership of the vehicle. You may be able to speed things up for them if you go to the DMV together. 

Second, report the sale of the vehicle to your state’s title agency. Formally recording the new owner is critical. Different states have different laws when it comes to this process, so be sure and ask questions. 

Protect Your New Car with the Best Insurance! 

Now you know what to do when selling your old vehicle. But do you know how to give the new one the protection it deserves? 

At InsureOne, we specialize in giving new rides the protection they deserve. We are always ready for you to get a quote online. Alternatively, you can pick up the phone and give us a quick call at 800-836-2240. Finally, feel free to come into one of our nearby offices at your earliest convenience!