Whether it’s for a junker that is no longer worth the effort, to get a better value than a trade-in, or for any other reason, at some point in their lives many people will need to sell a vehicle to someone through a private, third party sale. This type of transaction is not without risk, however. It is not entirely uncommon for someone to sue a prior vehicle owner after an accident where a prior sale was not properly transacted.

So, if you are going to sell the car on your own, there are several important points you need to keep in mind to protect yourself in the event something goes wrong. Here are a few tips to help you along:

  1. Use common sense and avoid “too good to be true” offers – If someone tries to offer you more than the asking price, or asks for strange payment terms, there is probably a reason why. Usually that reason will not be good for you. It may not always be a scam, but use your common sense.
  2. Take Photographs of the Condition of the Vehicle Prior to the Sale – Not only might this help you sell the vehicle, but it will help you prove the condition of the car at the time of sale. It can also be necessary if you do not have the official documentation to transfer title.
  3. Draft a Bill of Sale – You can find tons of different forms online. Most will have at least the bare bones minimum you want: party names and contact information; date of transaction; sale terms including purchase price and title transfer; warranties or disclaimers including designation of vehicle sold “as is,” if applicable. If you need any special terms or the vehicle is worth a considerable amount, consider hiring help to draft a document particular to your needs.
  4. Verify the Purchaser’s Information – Tell the purchaser in advance that, at the time of the transaction, you need a copy of their driver’s license or other government issued identification. Then actually scan it, take a photograph of it, or record all the relevant information from it.
  5. Document the Sale with the Proper Government Agency – do the necessary title work and then provide the title and other documents to the relevant government office. The purchaser can generally mail in the documents or deliver them in person. You must also log the sale as the seller to protect yourself. You can do so online at this link.

Of course, other steps may be necessary in many situations, so use your best judgment and follow the instructions and information available from the DVS or other reputable sources. You can find additional information here.

If you are sued as the owner after time of sale, or if you would like someone to prepare the sale documents for you to help avoid that possibility, contact Wilson Law Group to schedule a free consultation.