Table of Contents
- Get Prepared Before Going to Craigslist
- Overview of Selling Cars on Craigslist
- How to Post Ads on Craigslist
- How to Price Your Car to Sell on Craigslist
- Selling Cars on Craigslist: How to Protect Yourself
- Setting Test Drive Appointments
- Negotiation Tactics and Tips on Craigslist
- Closing the Sale
- Protecting Yourself from Liability
Get Prepared Before Going to Craigslist
Craigslist is considered by many to be the definitive site for selling and buying cars from private owners. This makes it a valuable resource if you're trying to get some cash for your car. Getting organized and prepared will help you to have a smooth experience selling your car on Craigslist.
What Documents Do I Need to Sell My Car on Craigslist?
At the bare minimum, you will need the car's title to transfer ownership to a buyer from Craigslist. However, if you still owe money on the car, you must talk to your lender about your plans to sell it. If the title is held by your bank, you must ask them how to release the lien, for example.
Minimum Paperwork vs. Maximum Preparation
Meeting the minimum paperwork requirements will allow you to sell your car on Craigslist successfully; however, consider the benefits of obtaining optional documents.
Documentation for establishing maximum credibility:
- Vehicle title
- Proof of vehicle registration and insurance
- Kelley Blue Book value listed for your car printed out on paper
- Maintenance records
- Vehicle warranty documentation
- Smog check certificate
- The original owner's manual
A print-out showing the Kelley Blue Book value for the car can help you during negotiations. Warranty information and maintenance records increase your credibility as a seller. The smog check certificate shows the buyer that you're prepared to conclude the transaction in a timely manner.
Overview of Selling Cars on Craigslist
Experienced buyers will be reviewing your Craigslist advertisement. Organizing all your paperwork communicates to your buyer that you're serious and trustworthy. As a seller, this can be an effective strategy to help you close the deal fast.
Does Craigslist Charge for Selling a Car?
Craigslist built a reputation for being a free site to sell anything including cars and trucks. The site maintained its free status for over 20 years. However, the site began charging what is called a nominal fee of five dollars starting April 15, 2019. This fee only affects Craigslist users who are selling cars or trucks on the site.
Car Selling Etiquette Tips
- Experienced buyers will check the Kelley Blue Book price to see if your vehicle's make, model, and mileage fall within a reasonable price range. If you top that off with a comment that your offer is firm, or non-negotiable, you may alienate serious buyers.
- Check to make sure that your car or truck advertisement is listed in the correct section after you post it. It would be a shame to create a stellar ad, only to find that you accidentally misclassified it.
- Omit all personal information and details. Provide as much information about the vehicle as possible including minor flaws. Buyers will suspect that they exist anyway. List them on your ad so that readers know what to expect.
- Always be courteous with your prospective buyers. This might seem obvious, but some contacts might ask annoying or repetitious questions. If you want to end the conversation, simply maintain your composure, and just politely advise them to look elsewhere.
How to Clean and Photograph Your Car Before Selling
Clean your car before taking photographs. If the car is valuable, consider the benefits of a professional detailing job. However, if you clean it yourself, make sure to be thorough. Clean cars simply sell faster. This process includes the interior, exterior, engine bay, and undercarriage.
Refer to these tips for cleaning your car before taking photographs for your Craigslist ad:
- Remove all personal items and trash from the interior of the car. Don't overlook the ashtray, trunk or glove compartment.
- Remove all decals, stickers and other personal markings from the exterior of the car. Use a fine razor to scrape them off before washing the car.
- Rent a strong shop vacuum to clean the interior. These are often available at public car washing facilities. Clean the carpet, upholstery and the area underneath the seats.
- Wipe down the sides with an automotive interior cleaner or all-purpose cleaning agent. Make sure you clean all parts of the interior including the steering wheel area. You can even get into the edges and nooks of the dashboard with a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove dust. If you have leather seats or upholstery, use a leather cleaner.
- Use a glass cleaner to clean the interior glass, and carefully avoid streaking.
- Apply a stain remover if needed and do a spot test first for carpets and seats.
- Clean the engine bay and wheels before you wash the vehicle's body. This will prevent chemical cleaning agents from damaging your car's paint.
Engine Bay and Exterior Cleaning
Engine bay: Position your car in a well-ventilated area. Cover your face with a dust mask to avoid breathing fumes. Don't touch the engine to avoid burns. Warm up your engine for around five minutes to make it easier to clean grime and grease. Turn the vehicle off and disconnect your battery's negative cable. Cover any wires with plastic and duct tape. Spray your engine degreaser onto the metal areas of the engine bay and the cylinder head. Avoid paint and the covered areas. Read the instructions for length of sitting time, then scrub the surfaces with a stiff bristle brush. Rinse with a power hose. Repeat if necessary.
Wheels and tires: Use a tire and wheel cleaner for rims and tires. Let it sit a few minutes. Scrub the area with a soft bristle brush and rag to remove grime and brake dust. Do not reuse these items. Rinse thoroughly with a hose.
Exterior: Start by rinsing the body of the car using a high-pressure nozzle. Use a small amount of automotive soap in a bucket filled with water, but don't let it dry on the paint in direct sunlight. Start the washing at the top and work your way down. Rinse each section thoroughly to avoid damaging the wax, paint, or clear coat. Use automotive wax only after the car is completely dry. Use chamois towels to buff the car.
Photographing Your Car
Ads with a lot of pictures get the most attention. Once you have them, edit them before posting. Make sure that none of them came out blurry, unclear or cropped. Take several shots of each angle and choose the best ones to publish.
Make sure the camera is stationary when taking each shot. This will avoid blurry images:
- Roll up the windows to give the vehicle a solid look. Plan the shot so that any background elements are minimized.
- Use a digital camera with high-resolution output. Shoot at sunrise or sunset.
- Shoot each picture at eye level and avoid extreme angles.
- For the exterior, shoot the front, side, and back. For the wheels, turn them to the left before taking a photograph of the tread.
- Remember to take clear photographs of the interior. Sit in the back seats and recline the front seats to get a clear view of the stereo, instrument panels, transmission and steering wheel. Take a close-up picture of the odometer.
- Open the hood, and shoot pictures of the engine compartment.
- Take separate pictures of extras, optional items, or unique features. For example, if you're selling a convertible, show it with the top both up and down.
- Photograph any dents or flaws, and clearly show them in your ad. This actually increases buyer confidence because it shows that you're willing to be honest and direct.
- Be cautious when using any photo editing software. Shoot photographs for clarity, and limit most of your editing to cropping the image and compressing the file size for publication.
How to Post Ads on Craigslist
Each Craigslist post consists of a headline and a body. Write an honest description of the vehicle using the list below as a guide. The body should consist of detailed, precise information. Create a headline that grabs attention.
What Details to Include in Your Ad's Description
Use these items below to create the advertisement:
The make refers to the vehicle's brand. Examples include Toyota, Honda, BMW, Ford and Dodge.
The model refers to the specific product. Examples include Camry, Civic, Gran Coupe, Mustang and Grand Caravan.
The vehicle's trim level is expressed in letters after the car model. The terms LX, EX, SE, XR5, GT3 and Deluxe are all examples of trim levels. This represents the total interior and exterior options offered by manufacturers. Trim options may also include upgrades on engine or wheels, for example. Safety enhancements and upholstery can be mentioned.
The mileage on the car affects the market value. The odometer records the miles driven on the car, and it is located below the speedometer. New cars have digital odometers, but odometer fraud is still common. Carfax reports are often used to detect odometer rollbacks, so report your mileage accurately. Tampering with the odometer is classified as criminal activity.
The vehicle year can be found by looking at the 10th character in your vehicle's VIN. Check this number to make sure it matches your other documentation. This only applies to vehicles manufactured after 1981.
Mention if the car has two or four doors.
Always mention the vehicle transmission type. Many buyers will consider the automatic or manual transmission as a deal-breaker feature, so omitting it will alienate these buyers.
You can also mention fuel efficient features of the engine. Electronic control over the cooling system optimizes the running temperatures, for example. Cylinder management technology is another example.
Make sure to list the MPG, and confirm the accuracy of this claim. For example, the vehicle might get 40 MPG, and you can take a picture of a fuel consumption monitor on some vehicles to verify it. Include this photograph with the others in your advertisement.
The term AWD means all-wheel drive, RWD means rear-wheel drive and FWD means front-wheel drive. The term 4WD is used only for vehicles with four-wheel drive.
Mention if the paint color is original or customized.
A clean title means that the vehicle has never been in an accident, and the odometer reading is accurate. The vehicle has also never been recalled if it has a clean title. A salvaged title means the car has been totaled from an accident. If the vehicle is repaired, it will be given a rebuilt title. If the title has a lien, mention it. Always include the title status in your description.
If you're the original vehicle owner, mention it at the beginning of the description. If it's had more than one owner, list that information towards the end.
Rust and body damage should be disclosed. Give the buyer the vehicle identification number or VIN. This will reduce the number of questions asked and allows buyers to verify the vehicle's condition.
Mention the status of any active warranty on the vehicle. Be sure to say if this warranty is transferable and keep copies with your other vehicle records. For example, if there are two years left on the power train and 3,000 miles on a bumper-to-bumper warranty, include this in your description. If there is a transfer fee cost, mention it. Buyers appreciate detailed information. Always back up your claims with documentation.
Include all unique extras or optional items. Examples include side air bags, electric windows, GPS, ABS, heated seats and new tires.
Find your supporting documents for each feature, and keep it in a single binder for future reference. Be prepared to offer this as documented proof to any buyer who expresses interest.
Example of Title and Vehicle Description
Use the list above to create a concise vehicle description. A high-quality car advertisement will catch your reader's attention within three seconds. Never forget to mention the most important information first. As strange as it seems, some sellers focus so much on describing the car's features that they forget to mention the price.
Here are examples of good vehicle descriptions that are ready to post on Craigslist:
- 2005 Honda Accord LX Sedan, clean title & original owner. Odometer 158,443. Automatic transmission. Silver body, two-doors, FWD. Great condition, well maintained. New tires, 4-cylinder engine. Price $3,900 obo.
- 2019 Subaru Impreza Sedan, AWD. Manual transmission, 5-speed. Odometer under 50K miles, 27 MPG. Manufacture warranty. Asking $17,000.
Common Mistakes When Posting a Craigslist Ad
The mechanics of posting your Craigslist ad are simple. To start, just go to the Craigslist website. Click on the link that says create a posting, which is located on the top left side of the landing page. Follow the steps until it asks you to publish. When you're completely ready to publish, pay your five dollars, and post your ad.
Make sure to avoid these common mistakes:
- Omit all personal details, and this includes your reason for selling the car.
- Post one ad at a time. Many sellers end up confusing their buyers by posting multiple ads for the same car.
- Check the accuracy of your information before posting the ad.
- Finally, review other advertisement headers before writing your post title.
How to Price Your Car to Sell on Craigslist
Make a clear pricing strategy to stay competitive. Sellers normally expect to sell cars on Craigslist at around 20 percent below its market value. However, if your car is in great condition and has valuable add-ons, you might consider asking for a higher price.
Pricing a car around $500 above market value is still considered reasonable, and it gives you room during negotiations. However, you need to find this value before setting the asking price. The most authoritative guide is the Kelley Blue Book. Always check their website before setting your price.
Once you obtain the Kelley Blue Book value for your make and model, compare this amount with other reliable sources including:
- TrueCar.com: This site allows you to get a cash offer for your car, which is useful information when pricing it to sell on Craigslist. You can also confirm the condition of your vehicle with a Certified Dealer. Use the VIN or license plate to obtain this information, then compare it with other sites and private sellers.
- Edmunds: Visit this site before setting your asking price. Enter your vehicle's details for a quote.
- Autotrader: This site will give you an estimate on the value of your car once you provide the make, model, trim and mileage. You also have to provide an email address and zip code.
If these sources produce numbers that are too different from each other, simply average them out. To calculate the average, just add all the values, and divide by the total number of sources used.
Pricing Tips to Follow
After you find the market value or average value for your vehicle, observe the following tips:
1. Compare Similar Cars: Go to competitor sites like eBay Motors, and see what prices are posted on vehicles with the same make, model, and year. Remember to review the condition, optional features and mileage when making this comparison. Repeat this process for similar vehicles.
2. Set an asking price relative to the market value: Remember that the asking price is just the first stage of the negotiation process. This amount can be a little higher than the amount you really expect to get for the car. This allows you some room to negotiate.
3. Justify your asking price: Be aware that pricing your car too much higher than your competitors can reduce the number of respondents. If needed, justify the price with the vehicle's low mileage or other desirable attributes. Always be ready to use documentation as leverage. However, expect the vehicle to sell at less than market value if there has been an accident that will show up on a Carfax report using the VIN. Buyers will eventually find out about the accident, so adjust the price accordingly.
Selling Cars on Craigslist: How to Protect Yourself
Anyone engaging in a Craigslist transaction should be cautious. Expect your buyers to understand it when you protect yourself. Taking precautions also increases your confidence level, and that will help you to navigate the transaction successfully.
Precautions When Selling a Car
As a rule of thumb, be ready to anticipate everything. Make a backup plan for every single thing that could go wrong. This could include setting up a speed-dial number for an emergency contact, for example.
Take the following precautions when dealing with buyers on Craigslist:
- Communicate every agreement in writing by email. Use this to clear up any disputes. This also serves as an effective way to show that you are aware of your legal standing.
- Avoid contacting anyone who isn't based in your local area.
- Avoid posting pictures of your car that show any landmarks that can identify your area.
- Don't post pictures of your vehicle's license plate. Block them out before publishing.
- Never wire money to anyone, and don't accept wire transfers.
- Be ready to verify any form of payment other than cash.
- Be prepared to turn down unreasonable requests.
- Get to know your buyer within reason before agreeing to a meeting.
Common Scams and Red Flags on Craigslist
Be aware of the most common scams on Craigslist so that you can protect yourself at all times. Prepare yourself to deal with strangers in a professional but cautious manner.
Here are some common red flags:
- Buyers who are unable to explain their interest in your vehicle in specific terms. You might be dealing with a phishing scam if the contact misspells words constantly, refers to your car as an item and uses other vague terms.
- Buyers who refuse to meet in person for any reason.
- Those who object to you bringing a friend along for any reason.
- Buyers who contact you at unusual hours might be operating from another country.
- Any requests to use wire transfer services or escrow accounts are suspicious.
- Any email link directing you to a website without an HTTPS heading in the URL is suspicious.
- Trust your instincts about every person who contacts you. Even if it seems legitimate, always go with your gut feeling about the situation.
Should I list my phone number on my Craigslist ad?
Never provide any personal information in your public post. Assume that anything posted publicly can be used to harm you. Instead, create an email account that will only be used for Craigslist. File your communications and stay organized. This way, you can refer to previous emails in case your buyer contradicts a previous statement. Screen your buyers in email before attempting verbal contact.
How can I establish verbal contact with my buyer?
Buy a temporary phone if you want to screen them verbally before agreeing to a physical meeting. This way, you have three levels of protection before encountering them in person.
I just got an offer from a buyer that seems too good to be true. How can I verify it?
You can't, and most offers that sound too good to be true turn out to be scams. Be careful and use your best judgment for each situation.
Setting Test Drive Appointments
Setting a test drive means that you have established a high level of confidence that your buyer is sincere and legitimate. Some Craigslist sellers recommend meeting at your local police station to begin and finish the test drive. The imagery of the police station can serve as a deterrent.
Conduct yourself with courteous efficiency. Never hesitate to ask to see the buyer's driver's license. Take a picture of the test driver holding a valid driver's license close next to the person's face. Most legitimate buyers will be willing to accommodate reasonable requests.
Take these steps before the meeting:
- Bring someone with you to the test drive meeting place.
- Choose a public location that is well lit.
- Get your buyer's contact information.
- Confirm that your buyer has a valid driver's license.
- Use the valet key for your buyer.
- Depending on your level of concern, you can leave the gas tank near empty.
- Limit the test drive to 15 minutes if the buyer goes alone or 30 minutes if you go along.
Take a second picture of the license and email it to a friend who knows what is happening. If you decide to go with your buyer on the test drive, you have informed another person so that they know who you are with in the car. You aren't required by law to allow a test drive, so always trust your instincts.
Does My Car Insurance Cover Test Drives?
Permissive use coverage is a specific type of insurance coverage that permits certain people to drive your car even if their names aren't on your policy. This is the type of coverage that goes into effect if you allow a friend or roommate to drive your vehicle, for example.
When a potential buyer drives your car, that person might be covered under the permissive use portion of your policy. Call your insurance provider to confirm this before the test drive takes place. You must have current insurance for the test drive to qualify. You might also learn about conditions that apply to the permissive use coverage. For example, some policies will increase your deductibles if a claim is made under the permissive use clause.
Negotiation Tactics and Tips on Craigslist
Car buyers may look for flaws in the car as an attempt to get you to lower the price. You can counter this move by producing documents fast. Set up a filing system, and practice locating each record. You need know exactly where each one is located in your binder before meeting the buyer.
Your capacity to produce a document quickly is a powerful negotiating tool. Service and maintenance records can show that regular oil changes and spark plug replacements occurred. This makes it impossible for the buyer to make untrue claims about the engine's maintenance, for example.
Prepare for every stage of the selling process in advance:
1. Become an expert on your vehicle.
If the buyer is better informed about your vehicle, you can lose leverage fast. Some buyers will research your vehicle carefully and attempt to use their knowledge to convince you to lower your price. They might even know what similar cars are worth on other sites. Don't allow yourself to enter into any negotiation poorly informed. It can cost you real money.
2. Avoid using terms like "firm" or "best offer" in your advertisement.
Buyers will automatically assume that you're trying to sell fast. Never let them think that you're willing to accept the lowest offer.
3. Decide on these three numbers before meeting your buyer.
You've already set the asking price for your vehicle. That's your first number. The next number is the target price. This is what you hope to get paid for the vehicle. The third is the lowest amount that you'll accept. Never tell your buyer this third number. If the buyer's best offer is lower than this amount, you must be prepared to turn it down.
4. Screen your callers carefully.
This will help determine their level of interest before meeting in person. If they make an offer that is unreasonably low, you can politely decline to meet. This method allows you to get offers from your buyers and select the one with the amount closest to your asking price. You can ignore the other buyers. This method works best when your vehicle price is already reasonable relative to its market value.
5. Plan your key strategies in advance.
If the buyer is ready to walk out on the deal, you can either bring your price down or call the person's bluff. Always be prepared to justify the value of your price based on market value of the vehicle. For example, if the odometer reading is low, you can justify demanding a higher price than an identical vehicle with higher mileage. Remember that buyers will say things like "this is the best I can do." This often indicates that the person is close to disclosing the real amount they're prepared to pay. Keep this in mind if the buyer acts willing to walk away from the deal. This might be the perfect time to make the ideal compromise that creates a win-win situation.
Closing the Sale
Each state has the authority to create its own rules for buying and selling cars. In addition, localities also have jurisdiction over specific items like damage disclosure statements. Never assume that you can conduct this transaction identically just because you previously sold a car in another state.
Tips for Closing the Deal
Close the sale at your state DMV for the best results. Take the time to read your DMV's rules for transferring ownership carefully. Many people only find out about their state's requirements while selling or buying cars. Acting on inaccurate or incomplete information can cause costly mistakes.
Visit your state DMV website to find out if your state requires the following documents to finalize the transaction:
- Damage disclosure statement: Some states require sellers to report the amount of damage to a vehicle. This is done by documenting the amount of parts, material, and labor used in the repairs. This is called a damage disclosure statement, and you won't be able to sell the car without it if your state requires it.
- Bill of sale: Check your state DMV to see if they offer a bill of sale that can be downloaded. You can also ask a DMV representative what items must be included in a bill of sale if you plan to write your own.
- Odometer disclosure statement: Some states require an odometer disclosure during transfers of ownership. For example, California allows the odometer disclosure to be reported on the title, or you can use a REG 262 form, which can be obtained at the state DMV office. The form can be used if the title is held by a lien holder or has no section for the odometer.
- Smog check, or state inspection certificate: The smog check is required in certain states, and you will need this document to successfully transfer the vehicle.
Research Your State's Requirements
Get informed by simply visiting your DMV website before attempting to close the transaction. Make sure you fully understand all the requirements for transferring ownership. Every state is different, so you might need to create an itemized checklist.
Sellers and Buyers, Get Organized and Prepared
Efficiency and organization are critical to closing the deal and completing the ownership transfer. Get organized before you meet your buyer. Place all your paperwork in once location like a large binder with protective sleeves.
- Title, key fob, original keys: Replace a lost key fob as a point of courtesy. Check to make sure you have the original keys. This small point is easy to overlook.
- Screwdriver: Your plates might be fastened with either a Phillips or a flat-head screw. The screwdriver is for removing the license plates at the DMV while the buyer is getting temporary replacement plates. Turn in your plates immediately. Your insurance company will use that as proof that ownership of the car was transferred, and you can cancel your policy.
- Insurance company phone number: Keep this handy, so you can cancel your insurance policy immediately after the sale.
- Release of liability form: File this immediately after the sale with your motor vehicle registry. This gives you additional protection from any actions performed by the car's new owner.
- Driver's license identification
- Agreed form of payment
- Proof of car insurance
- Personal check for registration fees and sales tax
How to Choose a Safe Meeting Place
Make sure that you meet a reasonable distance away from your home address. Check to make sure that you're not being followed once you leave the location. Never be shy about taking this extra precaution.
Suggested meeting places for Craigslist transactions include:
- Police station
- Mall parking lot
- The buyer's bank
- State DMV parking lot
What Payment Methods Are Safest?: Your List of Options
Consider the advantages of only accepting cash payments against the risks of other payment methods. Craigslist actively discourages users from accepting any form of electronic payment for a good reason.
1. Western Union: risky
Accepting a payment through a vendor like Western Union is risky. Serious buyers on Craigslist may assume that you're conducting a scam.
2. PayPal: good but with a caveat
PayPal is a trusted site, and you can easily accept payments from buyers before transferring the car title. The payments can be made through your mobile phone at the location where the closing is taking place. However, PayPal will allow the buyer to file an unauthorized payment claim. The site won't help the seller if there is no electronic proof that the item was delivered.
3. Cashier's check: credible
Cashier's checks are issued by banks. This is usually a credible method for conducting transactions, and the amount involved is typically higher than what a person will accept in cash. You must be prepared to authenticate the cashier's check if you decide to accept it. Get the buyer to meet you at the bank and watch them issuing the check. You can also request that your bank contact the bank issuing the check. Their bank might verify that the funds are being held for deposit. However, if the bank is unresponsive, you won't know if it is valid until it clears, which can take up to two weeks.
4. Money order: beware of forgery
Money orders, like cashier's checks, can be forged with relatively little effort. Weigh the risk of accepting a money order carefully and be wary of any buyer who insists on using one. Reported Craigslist scams often involve money orders because they are relatively easy to forge.
5. Credit card: be wary of possible fraud
Credit card payments are available to sellers who possess a portable processing machine. However, this transaction carries the risk that your buyer is using a credit card fraudulently. This can become a serious inconvenience if you get caught up in the aftermath of a buyer's credit card scam.
6. Deposit required: carries some risk
Finally, you might consider splitting the payment method by requiring a certain amount in cash as a deposit. Then you can allow your buyer to pay the remainder using a different method, which will carry a higher amount of risk. This is just something you have to decide using your best judgment about the buyer. If the amount of the purchase is high, this option makes more sense, but it also carries a higher level of risk.
Protecting Yourself from Liability
To protect yourself from liability, take appropriate actions that are based on accurate information. This is truly your best legal shield. The most important documents for your legal protection are the notarized bill of sale, or notice of sale, and the release of liability form. This section explains how each one protects your legal position differently during the ownership transfer process.
Release of Liability, Vehicle Transfer Laws
State laws are clear: The liability of the car remains with the seller even after the sale. As a private party seller, you can be liable for a crime committed by the buyer during this transition period. If that sounds scary, that just means you fully understand the danger. This is in effect until you submit a release of liability form or until the buyer registers the vehicle.
Bill of Sale or DMV Notice of Sale
The bill of sale also helps protect you against illegal actions the buyer might commit after the sale. However, this only serves as documentation to support a legal claim after the fact. The release of liability actually transfers all liability to the new owner. Some states require you to notarize the notice of sale, or bill of sale. In other states, notarization is recommended, but optional.
Accurate Odometer Reading
An accurate odometer reading is required by federal and state law. Never round up to the highest number because you could be liable if an accident occurs until the odometer displays the recorded number. The odometer disclosure statement is only required for cars that were manufactured within 10 years of the sale date.
License Plate Removals
Protect yourself by learning about your state's laws regarding license plate removal. Close your deal at the DMV and bring a flat-head or a Phillips screwdriver to remove your license plates on the spot. Never let the buyer drive off with them still on your car. This will make you liable if they run a stop light, cause an accident or commit other illegal acts. The buyer must get temporary license plates from the DMV until the vehicle is registered. This is the perfect time to fill out your release of liability form, which protects you until the buyer registers the car.
Assume Responsibility as a Car Seller
When dealerships sell their cars, they take care of the paperwork internally. Because of this, you might be unfamiliar with what is involved in fully transferring both ownership and legal responsibility of a car. Always refer to your state DMV as the authority on how to transfer ownership and liability of any vehicle.
Always make copies of the documents you plan to give to the buyer. This will protect you in the event that there is a legal dispute. Keep clean and accurate records, and buyers will be less likely to attempt to commit fraud. Before meeting your buyer, make sure you take a black marker and block all your personal details from all copies of the vehicle documents including maintenance records.
Check your glove compartment to ensure that you've removed any items like credit applications or contracts. These often contain your social security number and other details that can be used for identity theft. Always use your best judgment, and never hesitate to protect yourself during every stage of the selling, negotiation, test drive, and title transfer process.