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  • State Regulations in Arizona

    Purchasing a used car from a private seller is often a good way to save money, but it has its risks. To protect yourself, you should cover the obvious bases by test-driving the automobile and having a trustworthy mechanic inspect it.

    In addition, you should examine the title of the vehicle for the following warning signs:

    • Match the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the title with the one on the vehicle. The VIN number is usually on the dashboard just below the glass. If they do not match, you will have problems registering the vehicle with the MVD.
    • Look for the type, status, or brand of the vehicle on the title. If the words "dismantled" or "salvage" appear, you could be dealing with a vehicle that has been created using stolen parts from other vehicles.
    • Look for the word "reconstructed" or "homemade" on the title. If the car has been specially constructed or built from scratch, it may be missing a VIN, so you will have problems registering it with the MVD.
    • Check to make sure that the lienholder on the title is the person you are dealing with. If they are not, you will need a notarized release from the lienholder.
    • Confirm that there is only one person listed as the owner of the vehicle. If there are multiple owners, you will need all of their signatures to release the vehicle to you.

    Title-Holding Details

    The holder of the title is the owner of the vehicle in the state of Arizona. If you pay for the vehicle in full at the outset, you should receive the title from the seller to take to the MVD. It will need the seller's signature notarized.

    However, if you plan to pay for the vehicle in installments, the vehicle's seller will hold the title of the vehicle until you pay it off. They will put their own name on the title as a lienholder until you do. This will allow you to register the car in your name which you must do in person at a local MVD office within 15 days of purchasing it. When you have paid for the vehicle in full, the seller will document it on the title, have it notarized, and mail it to you.

    The seller must provide the title at the time of delivery of the vehicle. If the lienholder still has the title, the seller must first obtain it from the lienholder. If the seller has lost the title, he or she must obtain a duplicate from the MVD before the sale can proceed.

    However, if you're selling your vehicle to a dealer but the lienholder still has the title, the dealer will have you sign a Dealer Acquisition Contract in order to complete the sale.

    A seller doesn't need to produce the vehicle registration at the time of the sale. But showing it to a prospective buyer might help facilitate the sale. For example, the buyer might be able to verify that the tags are legitimate, and that the vehicle has passed recent emissions tests.

    Bills of Sale and Sold Notices

    Acquiring valid proof of the sale in the form of a Bill of Sale will help ensure that your registration, insurance, and titling go smoothly. Even though the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) does not require that you file the Bill of Sale, having the signatures of both you (the buyer) and the seller on a single notarized document will alleviate any confusion about the legitimacy of the transaction.

    Likewise, if you sell an automobile in a private transaction, you can submit a Sold Notice online to inform the MVD that you have done so. The submission will limit your liability if the new owner drags their feet in registering the vehicle with the MVD under their name (they have 15 days to do so).

    If you have trouble downloading the Arizona MVD's version of the Bill of Sale, DMV.org provides a generic form as well.

    License Plate Refunds for Vehicle Sellers

    Private vehicle sellers may be eligible to receive refunds on fees associated with the license plates of the vehicle they sell because license plates belong to people, not vehicles. To see if you qualify for reimbursement, you can utilize the online Plate Refund tool.

    Find more details about buying and selling vehicles at the MVD's information page.

    Also see related articles at Car Registration and Title Transfers on this site.

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