Selling a car: the details.
June 22, 2007 9:32 AM   Subscribe

Selling a car, step-by-step. Help, please? (Massachusetts)

I own the car, and have the title in hand, and I'm selling it for cheap, so there's no reason I shouldn't be able to get cash. So I'm not going to have to deal with the usual problems that get asked about.

My question is simpler. Once I find someone who is ready to buy, what are the details of actually selling it to them?

Mass RMV's site doesn't say directly, but suggests that I just need to sign the title over to them (by saying all they'd need to register it is my title signed to them). I've read that this has to be notarized if the odometer's reading is incorrect. Does it have to be notarized even if the odometer is correct? suggests I may need a bill of sale. Do I? Does it have to be notarized? What does it need to contain? Is there an official form/format? I can't find one.

What about the plates? Does my buyer drive off with them or do I need to take them off the car? I recall when I bought this car (in PA, with my dad a number of years ago) that the seller met us at some sort of title/tax/tag place and we drove off with a temporary registration to hang in the window.

What else do I need to know about actually making the deal complete and legal?
posted by ThePants to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I sold my older cheaper car in much the same way recently in MA (I recently moved from out of state as well). I went to the mass dep of motor vehicals website and printed a bill of sale, but apparently that really isn't necessary if you have a title. Just make sure you fill it out correctly.

Here is the link if you want to have it just in case:

I did not have anything notorized. I can only imagine if there was any problem the buyer would have contacted me.

I actually sold mine on craigslist, which worked out well - just take a lot of pictures, be honest and don't get conned into selling for too cheap or for delivery or non-locally or for anything but the entire amount in cold cash in your hand - people WILL try to con you.

I can't remember offhand remember whether the plates follow the car or the person in MA. Anyone?

Good luck - I was stressed about selling my car, but it actually was a fairly painless process.
posted by Carialle at 10:02 AM on June 22, 2007

This is a good place to start.
posted by wsg at 10:04 AM on June 22, 2007

I can't speak to MA-specific laws, but here's an approach that's worked well for me: you and the buyer go, together, to the DMV. Bring every piece of paperwork you can think of, and a fistful of cash (DMV's don't always take checks or credit cards), plus a couple screwdrivers and an adjustable wrench--you'll need at least one of those tools to take the plates off. Tell the person at the counter, 'This guy just bought my car. What's the next step?' Do whatever they tell you to do--you'll sign over the title, the buyer will get a new registration, etc. Then, when you get home, call your auto insurance company and let them know you sold the car.
posted by box at 10:19 AM on June 22, 2007

Best answer: Here is how I sold a car in MA - it's easy

1. Found a buyer and agreed on price
2. Removed the license plates
3. Filled out the title with all the relevant information, signing the car over to the new owner
4. Called my insurance company to inform them that I no longer needed any coverage for that vehicle.
5. Took a trip to the RMV and relinquished the plates (this step alone will usually result in the RMV contacting your insurance company, but it's best to drop the insurance right away. If the buyer immediately gets into an accident, it's now their responsibility)

For step 3, take your time and to make sure everything is correct.

The signed over title is proof of sale and will serve to placate a police officer until new plates have been issued.
posted by plinth at 10:34 AM on June 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

What do you do if you are going to use the money from the sale to pay off the loan, thus meaning that the title is in the bank's possession?
posted by mkb at 12:35 PM on June 22, 2007

Actually when I bought my used car a year ago we went to a AAA office (the seller was a AAA member) and they have this service that expidites a title/registation transfer for a car sale. It was quite painless. I kept the seller's plates because I took over his registration. Hope this helps.
posted by semidivine at 2:57 PM on June 22, 2007

When you sign the title over to the new owner, at least in Alaska, there's a portion of the title that you tear off and mail in to the DMV to prove that you no longer own the car in case the new owner doesn't put the title into their name.

In the same vein, you should really have a receipt of sale when you sign over the title: a copy for you, a copy for the new owner. It should list the make, model, year, license plate of the car, the amount sold for, paid in cash or check, date of sale, and both signatures.

Anecdote: my dad sold a truck to one of his employees once, and the guy got into an accident within a month or so. My dad hadn't sent the slip in to the DMV, and the employee hadn't gotten insurance or changed the title into his own name. He "conveniently" didn't have the title any more, and the other insurance company came after my dad for damages because his name was still on the title.
posted by rhapsodie at 1:25 PM on June 23, 2007

« Older Satellite phone rental in bay area   |   How can we be randomly assigned to bedrooms? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.