State Regulations in South Carolina

Regulations When Buying or Selling a Car in South Carolina

There is a lot more to buying or selling a vehicle than a simple exchange of money.

As a buyer, you'll need to think about car insurance, titling and registration fees.

As a seller, you'll need to think about canceling your car insurance, signing over your vehicle's title, and notifying the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of the sale.

Both parties also need to think about the paperwork, fees, and documents they'll need to submit to the SC DMV.

Buying A Car in South Carolina

Before you purchase a new or used car from a dealer or an individual, be sure to do your research. You should check with your agent about the cost of car insurance.

Car values can be compared using the Kelley Blue Book.

Once you've bought the car, you'll need to register and title it with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

The state also offers several options for license plates, so you'll want to explore those before you register.

Several car-buying tips:

  • Be sure to get a bill of sale. South Carolina requires the original document, so you may want to pick one up at your local SC DMV office before you purchase a car. The seller may have one handy, but at least you'll be prepared if he doesn't.
  • Keep all your receipts and paperwork concerning the purchase and care of your vehicle.
  • Test drive the car before you buy it. You'll need to check the acceleration, braking, steering, and overall fit of the vehicle to you and your driving style.

Selling Your Car in South Carolina

Before you sell your car, do some research and a little work. It will pay off in the long run.

  • Check the value of your car with Kelley Blue Book. Determine your price based on those values.
  • Clean up your car. Washing, waxing, and vacuuming will make the car more appealing to a potential buyer.
  • Plan to advertise. Put a sign in the window of your vehicle, place a classified ad in your local paper, and advertise with a local car trading magazine.
  • Gather all the paperwork concerning your vehicle. The buyer will need a copy of the registration papers, the original title, and a bill of sale. This online version is only a sample; South Carolina requires the original document, so you may want to pick one up at your local SC DMV office before you sell.

Buying and Selling A Car Without Paperwork

In South Carolina, you can't buy or sell a vehicle that doesn't have a title. You should use caution if someone attempts to sell you a car without a title, as this may signal that the seller doesn't really own the car or have a legal right to sell it.

If you want to sell a vehicle to which you've lost the title, first apply for a duplicate title from the South Carolina DMV (see our Title Transfers page for additional information). Once you've received your replacement title certificate, you can proceed with the sale.

Registration papers are another matter. Sellers are not required to provide the buyer with the vehicle's registration. When you, as the buyer, register and tag the vehicle in your own name, the SC DMV will give you a new set of documents.

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