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Tips for Selling a Used Vehicle to a Private Party

  • Use common sense.  If you don’t feel comfortable, don’t go forward.   Do not invite a buyer you don’t know to your home.   He or she could be a burglar or car thief casing your car or house.  If possible, arrange to meet prospective buyers at your bank or business so they can test-drive the vehicle.
  • Don’t give out unnecessary personal information about yourself, your family or your schedule.
  • Don’t consider a test drive until you’re confident the buyer is legitimate.   Be sure the buyer has a valid driver’s license with a photo.  Leave the information about the buyer with someone who is not going on a test drive with you.   Do not let the buyer test drive the vehicle alone as the intent may be simply to steal it.  You may be held liable if the person is involved in an accident or commits a crime in your vehicle.  Limit the test drive to areas that are familiar to you.
  • Do not surrender the ownership documents until you have verified that the funds are valid.  Cash or cashier’s checks can be counterfeit or forged, and stop payments can be placed on checks.  Consider going to the bank where the personal or cashier’s check is drawn to consummate the transaction.   Also, if you accept any significant sum of cash, do so in a location where you can immediately deposit it, rather than carry it and become a robbery target.
  • Complete a Bill of Sale with an odometer reading and all pertinent information about the vehicle and the buyer, as well as the date and time of sale.  Have it signed by both parties and keep a copy.  If there is a lien, verify that it is paid or that the lender is releasing you from any obligation.
  • Immediately notify the Department of Motor Vehicle of the sale, even if the buyer intends to transfer title right away.  You remain financially liable for accidents and certain other matters until proper paperwork is filed with DMV.