Help me sell my car!
July 7, 2011 3:10 PM   Subscribe

How to sell my car? I just moved from VA to CA and want to sell my car that still has a loan on it (though it should sell for substantially more than I owe)... how does that work?

I've never sold a car, so I'm pretty completely dumb on the subject but have a few specific questions:

1. Do I need to register it in Cali first? It is an '09 Toyota, so I assume it meets any environmental regulations out here... but do I have to go and get it registered before I sell it? If it isn't required, would it help?

2. How does the actual sale happen since I owe money and the bank has the title?

3. How do you make sure you don't get ripped off? My guess for #2 is that they pay the bank directly, not me... so would they send a check/electronic deposit to the bank and then the bank would tell me everything was good and I'd hand over the keys?

I'm sure there are other things I should know... so if you have any other advice, I'm happy to hear it!

Thanks!
posted by alaijmw to Work & Money (9 answers total)
 
For the least amount of hassle, consider taking it to CarMax and selling it to them.
posted by elsietheeel at 3:12 PM on July 7, 2011


Concerning registering your car in California... My partner and I moved to California two years ago. We had only JUST purchased a brand new car, an '09 Honda Fit. To get that car registered in California, it cost nearly $1,000. They don't mess around with out-of-state cars. I feel like it's a big cash cow for them. So, keep in mind, if you don't register it in California, your potential buyers will have to incur that cost; and they are going to want you to offset that cost by lowering the purchase price.
posted by AlliKat75 at 3:14 PM on July 7, 2011


For the least amount of hassle, consider taking it to CarMax and selling it to them.

Definitely considering that... except for two things. First, I took it to CarMax back in VA last fall and their offer was pretty crappy (probably two grand less than I could get selling it myself). Second, I'm currently in Berkeley and the closest CarMax is 80+ miles away... so I'd need a friend to come with me and would probably have to accept their offer no matter what it was :D

That said, I may well see if I can shop around at other dealers that buy cars.
posted by alaijmw at 3:18 PM on July 7, 2011


You may have some difficulty with this. I imported a car with an outstanding loan from out-of-state a couple of years ago. While registration was a breeze (and luckily, didn't cost anywhere near $1k [reg fees are based on the age of your car]), DMV didn't issue a CA title without the original Illinois title, which of course was being held by the bank. I paid off my loan before selling the car, so it all worked out for me.

Without the interstate issues, your buyer would pay you for the car, you'd expedite the funds to the bank, and they'd expedite the title back to you (for a fee). Then you'd do all the signatory stuff. It can be difficult to find a buyer who is willing to part with a significant amount of money without immediately having the title.
posted by hwyengr at 3:34 PM on July 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Concerning registering your car in California... My partner and I moved to California two years ago. We had only JUST purchased a brand new car, an '09 Honda Fit. To get that car registered in California, it cost nearly $1,000. They don't mess around with out-of-state cars. I feel like it's a big cash cow for them. So, keep in mind, if you don't register it in California, your potential buyers will have to incur that cost; and they are going to want you to offset that cost by lowering the purchase price.


According to the calculator on the CA DMV website it will only cost $201, thankfully!
posted by alaijmw at 3:35 PM on July 7, 2011


It is an '09 Toyota, so I assume it meets any environmental regulations out here...
Don't make that assumption. Check.
There should be a tag somewhere on the car (or, possibly in the manual) that states whether the car is a 50-state or 49-state emissions vehicle. If it says 50-state, you're gold. If it's a 49-state car, you will probably have to spend to bring it up to Cali spec before you register it.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:07 PM on July 7, 2011


Don't make that assumption. Check.
There should be a tag somewhere on the car (or, possibly in the manual) that states whether the car is a 50-state or 49-state emissions vehicle. If it says 50-state, you're gold. If it's a 49-state car, you will probably have to spend to bring it up to Cali spec before you register it.


Looks like I'm good - sticker on the inside of the hood says it complies with federal and California regulations.
posted by alaijmw at 4:42 PM on July 7, 2011


I bought a car in CA that had been registered in Michigan. The DMV required the previous owner and I to meet in person with a DMV worker to verify VIN numbers and mileage. After that the sale was the same as any other. I paid the registration and they gave me a brand new set of CA plates.

In order to sell a car in CA you need to have the title in hand with your name on it. If you still owe money on the car you need to talk to the lender about that.
posted by twblalock at 10:58 PM on July 7, 2011


Well, I decided to make the long drive out to CarMax today essentially just so I could get a written offer and then try and negotiate with local places that buy cars (since selling to a private party was seeming more and more like a pain in the ass).

I wasn't expecting much - I took it to Carmax in VA about 6 months ago and they offer me $11k. Since then I've put on several thousand miles and several large scratches. So I was hoping it would at least still be over $10k.


...and then they offered me $13,000! I only owe $8500 so I am very happy with that indeed! Thanks for the help everyone!
posted by alaijmw at 4:27 PM on July 8, 2011


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