You decided it’s time to part ways with your old car, so you posted an ad and found a buyer for it. Now it’s time to say goodbye to your vehicle. How do you transfer ownership to a new owner? Ensuring secure payment and eliminating your liability after the sale of the vehicle should be your priorities. Here are a few last-minute reminders on what to keep track of — and what not to skip — when ownership of your vehicle is about to be handed off.
Related: Prepare to Sell
- Don’t jump the gun; make sure the sale is secure. If you accepted payment via cashier’s check, follow the steps for securing safe payment to ensure the payment is valid before you sign over the title. To prevent fraud, don’t transfer the title of your car to the buyer until their check has cleared or you’ve received full payment for the vehicle; never accept a check for more than your asking price; verify the authenticity of any cashier’s check with the issuing bank; and look up the bank’s phone number and call to verify the routing number, account number and name on the account. If you used an escrow service, wait until it tells you that payment has been received before transferring ownership.
- If you’re dealing with an out-of-town buyer, arrange for that person to pick up the vehicle, or consider employing a professional vehicle delivery service. Delivery services transport vehicles on large hauling trucks. Prices vary depending on the length of the transport and the vehicle’s weight, but the average price to ship a vehicle across the country is $1,650, according to Forbes. Work out the cost and payment details with the buyer first.
- In most states, license plates stay with the seller, not the car, though California is a notable exception; sellers should check their state’s laws with the Department of Motor Vehicles. If the plates remain with the original owner, remove them so you don’t retain a legal tie to the car. If the plates stay with the vehicle and will transfer to the new owner, you need to fill out the proper paperwork at the DMV.