Whether you are driving a brand new vehicle off a dealership’s lot or you found a hidden gem from a private owner on the Internet, buying a car carries with it some basic legal responsibilities.
Let the Dealership Handle Your Paperwork
New or used vehicles purchased from a licensed dealer have the added benefit that the dealership will handle the paperwork to transfer ownership, though you should familiarize yourself with your state’s Lemon Law, just in case your dream car turns out to be a dud.
Unless You Do Business With a Private Buyer or Seller
Even if it doesn't provide an official form, each state has its own requirements of the buyer and seller to make the sale legitimate. Sometimes, this process is as simple as both the buyer and seller completing the back of the original car title. It is best to do your research beforehand, or run the risk of encountering difficulties when you go to register.
Many states - from North Carolina to Oregon - offer convenient online versions of the bill of sale that they prefer you use. If your state does not provide a form, there are several generic bill of sale templates out there to choose from.
Create Your Own Bill of Sale
If you are a do-it-yourself type and your state doesn't require a specific form, you have the option to make your own version - so long as you double-check the requirements of your state and include essential information such as:
- Date of sale
- Make, model, and year of vehicle
- Complete vehicle description (color, body style)
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Odometer reading
- Buyer’s full name and address
- Seller’s full name and address
- Signatures of buyer(s) and seller(s)
Additional Documents for Buying and Selling Vehicles
On the flipside, now that you have your new wheels, you may be looking to sell your old car!
When this is the case, read up on the paperwork you'll need to sell a car. For example, signing a Release of Liability form before you cruise off into the sunset might be in your best interest.