Buying and Selling FAQs in Tennessee

Buying and selling cars can be get complicated fast. Find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about buying and selling cars in Tennessee. 

I'm considering purchasing―or selling―a used vehicle. Is there any special information to help me along the way?

Yes―and tons of it!

First, familiarize yourself with the Used Car Rule issued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If you're purchasing the used car from a dealership, note that the dealer is required to provide information about a salvage status and lemons. If you're buying from an individual, ask about this information.

Too, if you're the buyer, consider getting a Vehicle History Report as well as checking with the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) about potentially severe damage the vehicle has endured.

Is there any reason I can't sell my vehicle at a very low price?

Not that we can find; however, if you plan to sell your vehicle at 75% lower than the fair market value, you'll need to complete an Affidavit of Non-Dealer Transfers of Motor Vehicles and Boats (Form RV-F1301201) for the Department of Revenue

I recently purchased a used car from an individual, but I'm having trouble getting it titled. Can I still get tags for it?

Possibly. If you can prove you own the vehicle and that something is being done to rectify the situation, you may be able to get Tennessee temporary tags. You must also provide your driver license and a $10 fee.

Contact your local County Clerk's office with your specific information.

What's the difference between buying a vehicle and leasing a vehicle?

There are several differences between buying and leasing vehicles, but we'll highlight the point of ownership.

When you buy a vehicle, it belongs to you and the institution (usually a bank) from which you borrowed money to pay for the vehicle. Once you pay the loan in full, the vehicle is completely yours.

When you lease a vehicle, it's not yours. You make payments to use the vehicle until a particular amount of time is up. At the end of that period, you can choose to purchase the vehicle, usually at a discounted price.

For more information about leasing vehicles, and the difference between leasing and buying, refer to the Federal Reserve Board's Keys to Vehicle Leasing.

If I sell my car to another individual, can the entire transaction take place in my backyard?

Yes, but Tennessee recommends conducting business at your local County Clerk's office for two reasons: Your name is immediately taken off the vehicle, and their system won't charge you unnecessary taxes on the vehicle.

What should I do about car insurance?

Whether you've bought or sold a vehicle, contact your auto insurance agent to update your policy.

If you don't have auto coverage, check out our Car Insurance section for Tennessee's Financial Responsibility Law.

If I can't save money to buy a new car outright, should I finance?

Many Tennesseans, as well as car buyers across the nation, finance vehicles. Not only does financing help you get the car of your dreams, but it also helps build your credit.

Visit the Understanding Car Financing page to help you better understand how to take out a loan, from whom you should take the loan, and what kinds of incentives you should expect from your lender.

How do I bring a vehicle purchased from another country into America?

Unless you're coming from Canada, you'll need to get an HS-7 Declaration Form from the port you use to re-enter America.

The process is much easier if your vehicle conforms to our country's requirements, i.e., the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS).

If it doesn't conform, a Registered Importer will contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to find out if it can be modified to conform. If it can, you must bring it into America, have it modified, and post a Department of Transportation Conformance Bond.

For more details, check out the Vehicle Importation Regulations, and then contact an expert at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at (888) 327-4236.


Affidavit of Non-Dealer Transfers of Motor Vehicles and Boats
Submit this affidavit to the TN Department of Revenue if transferring ownership of a motor vehicle OR boat to a relative OR as a gift.
US DOT Declaration
Complete this form when importing a vehicle OR vehicle parts from outside of the U.S. to disclose compliance with federal safety standards.
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