Selling a car in NJ
September 14, 2016 5:31 AM   Subscribe

I have a beater car that runs. The registration is expired and it has no insurance. How do I actually go about selling this to someone else?

If they test drive it with me, will I be liable? I guess so as long as I own it. Also what do I need? A title transfer card? I'm not sure what that is or where to get one. I'm going to do this on craigslist. How should I accept payment so I don't get screwed over? Cashier's check? Venmo? Cash? Anything else I am missing? Thanks!
posted by MisantropicPainforest to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not familiar with NJ DMV stuff, but generally the title to a car has a place to "sign over" the title (proof of ownership) to someone, along with the price charged, odometer reading at time of sale, etc. It is then incumbent upon the buyer to go to the DMV to complete this paperwork in the eyes of the DMV (again, not familiar with NJ's nuances, so YMMV).

I would highly recommend a cash transaction.
posted by kuanes at 6:00 AM on September 14, 2016

If at all possible, you should probably get it insured so you can let people test-drive it. You should be able to get a pro-rated refund after you sell the car and cancel the insurance.

I'm also not familiar with the NJ process specifically, but my experience selling cars in three other states has always been as kuanes described. You fill in the buyer's info on the back of the title, sign it in front of a notary, keep a copy for your records and hand over the original to the buyer.

Deal in cash unless you have good reason to trust the buyer.
posted by jon1270 at 6:41 AM on September 14, 2016

If they test drive it with me, will I be liable?


Yes, and if something happens or they get pulled over, you'll also likely be cited for driving without insurance, which over time might cost you more than the beater will bring in.

The easiest thing to do is to sell it to a dealer whose license allows them to drive and insure such cars on a short term basis. Or if you make enough to itemize deductions, donate it to a charity. Failing that, if you want to be protected, re-register it and get it insured. After you sell it, you'll get a pro-rated refund of the insurance.

IIRC, in NJ you are required to turn in the plates when you sell it, which counts as part of the proof that you are no longer liable for the vehicle. There's certainly been cases where people buy beaters and never register them and the old owners have to deal with legal headaches from the buyers getting in accidents or getting tickets.

Do not accept Venmo, their terms of service don't cover this type of sale. Cash is king.
posted by Candleman at 6:45 AM on September 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not sure that this is a major problem. You just sell the car to them as normal. I agree that cash only is the way to go. You should also make two copies of a simple bill of sale which describes the make, model, year, color, and odometer reading of the car, states that it's being sold "as-is", and says that [seller's name] is selling it to [buyer's name] on such-and-such a date for such-and-such a sum.

The expired registration and lack of insurance are potentially an issue for a test drive, but in your shoes I personally would probably be willing to risk it for the ten or fifteen minutes it takes to test drive the car, assuming the potential buyer seemed serious and they weren't setting off any warning bells in my head. The right thing to do would be to register and insure it for the purposes of selling the car, but for a beater that might take a hefty chunk out of your return. Your call, obviously. Buyers are certainly going to want to test drive the car.

Once they buy the car they're going to have to get it registered and insured before they can drive it off. If they want to transport it to their house right away they'll need to tow it, or else they can come pick it up at your place once they have plates for it. I'd be clear about that up front, and after it sells I'd take my plates off and return them. Most buyers will be understanding, and it's not really reasonable for them to raise a stink about this.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:09 AM on September 14, 2016

In my state the insurance covers the driver, no matter what car they are driving. So I would check that -- my feeling is that as long as the driver can show you proof that they are insured, you're good to go on that front.

The registration, though, is certainly a big issue for test drives.
posted by anastasiav at 7:45 AM on September 14, 2016

I would sell it "as is, where is", no test drive, and let the buyer put plates on it before he takes it way. BTW, it's not real expensive to have a tow truck it move it a short distance.
posted by SemiSalt at 9:38 AM on September 14, 2016

Thanks! The KBB is about 800 dollars. Do you think the hit I would take on 'as is, where is' would make it worthwhile to spend the 100-200 bucks to get it reinsured and reregistered?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:55 AM on September 14, 2016

oh hey. this is my world of car buying.

no, it's not worth insuring. the buyer will either know what they are looking for or be too stupid to know what they are looking for. i've driven unregistered cars around the block... with the owner of course. but feel free to say no if the buyer seems sketch. for $800, accept cash only. i recommend educating yourself on your state "lemon" laws wrt used cars and be honest about whether the transmission is dying, or the engine, or the clutch, etc.. someone buying an $800 car is either young and foolish or old and desperate (like me!).
posted by at 6:08 PM on September 14, 2016

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