How screwed am I by the stupid way I sold my car?
December 9, 2010 6:11 PM   Subscribe

I was stupid. I sold my car very stupidly. Now what?

I was in middle of cross-country move from Ohio to Oregon couple weeks ago. To simplify the process I sold my old beater to my co-worker's brother. I gave them a good deal (~$500) for the car and even threw in a free tank of gas.

They requested me to leave the license plates on the car so they can drive it home because I sold car on Sunday. I reluctantly agreed. They promised to send me license plates right away.

Flash forward two weeks later, still no license plates. I have been politely remind them few times to return my plates but they still haven't return it to me.

What should I do now? Gave them few more days? Escalate the situation? Is there a easier way to solve this situation if they don't return my plates?
posted by Carius to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total)
Why would you want the license plates? Unless it's a personalized plate, doesn't it go with the car? All the cars I've ever sold, the license plates went with.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:24 PM on December 9, 2010

Is getting your plates back a state requirement? I've always sold my cars without giving a thought to the plates (CA). Exchange the car/pink slip for cash, notify insurance company... done.
posted by cecic at 6:24 PM on December 9, 2010

did you transfer title or complete a bill of sale? info about selling a car in ohio - once the title is transferred, the plates won't be linked to you anymore, unless i'm missing something.
posted by nadawi at 6:26 PM on December 9, 2010

It depends on the state. Some states, the plates stay with the car. In others (IL is one), the plates are owned by the person, and you can put them on any car you want to register.
posted by gjc at 6:38 PM on December 9, 2010

Many states tags do not transfer with the vehicle. In California they do but in many states they do not. Call the DMV in the state where the buyer lives and see if they transferred the title. If they did you have nothing to worry about. If they did not transfer the title then you might just be liable if they have an accident, etc. You need to know the status of the car title.
posted by JayRwv at 6:39 PM on December 9, 2010

Response by poster: It was Sunday, so I did not transfer the title before a notary public. I did not even think about a bill of sale. Now, I am afraid if I don't have the tags and if the car get into accident I will be liable for it. Am I wrong?
posted by Carius at 6:42 PM on December 9, 2010

Best answer: getting the tags won't keep you from getting in trouble. the VIN is connected to your title and if you didn't transfer the title, according to the state of ohio, you still own the car. you need to call the DMV and figure out how to transfer ownership if you're in a different state.
posted by nadawi at 6:45 PM on December 9, 2010

Does the state of Ohio have an online form for reporting a sale? Here in WA that's all you need to do, fill out the form and submit it.

Wow, having looked, nothing seems to be available. hardly any information whatsoever about what to do if you sell. This was it:

"DO NOT fill out the assignment on the reverse side of the Certificate of Title until an actual sale has been made. Make certain that you know the proper name and address of the buyer before making the assignment. You as the seller, are required to state the actual purchase price and the odometer reading of the vehicle. You must sign the title exactly as the title was issued to you and your signature must be notarized. When sale is to an individual, make a copy of the completed, notarized assignment for your personal record of date of sale/transfer."

No mention of plates.
posted by maxwelton at 7:40 PM on December 9, 2010

Threaten to report it stolen. If nothing then report it stolen.
posted by pianomover at 12:09 AM on December 10, 2010

Go to or contact the DMV in the state where you registered the car. Ask them what to do. Or maybe the information will be on the web site. In some states, the plates stay with the car; in others, the plate comes off when the car is sold.
posted by wryly at 1:16 AM on December 10, 2010

It was Sunday, so I did not transfer the title before a notary public.

Uh, a notary is the only way you can enable the buyer to legally own the car. (I live in Ohio, and have sold vehicles here.) Unless your co-worker's brother is a notary, or is close personal friends with a notary who will do him a favor, he can't transfer the title into his own name and he can't get permanent plates of his own.

You don't need to get your coworker's brother to send you the plates. You need him to send you the title so you can take it to a notary yourself and have it stamped, then send it back to him.
posted by jon1270 at 2:36 AM on December 10, 2010

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