Selling your car in light of state regulations and modern car advertising can be difficult, but resources do exist to help small business owners and other individuals navigate the system.
Legal requirements surrounding car sales differ from state to state. Owners looking to sell their car should always start with the Department of Motor Vehicles website for their state. Unfortunately, the older web design, abundance of confusing links, and glitches caused by website traffic can make the DMV site hard to navigate. Many people find it simpler to call the local DMV, suffer through the long hold time, and find out directly what state-specific requirements may impact the sale. If you'd prefer the web, running a general Google search on selling a car that includes your state name and the word "DMV" can bring up legal information faster than the DMV website search functions can.
After looking up general DMV guidelines, business owners should consider state-specific taxes. The DMV website should have a page like this one from Virginia that lists any tax exemptions for the buyer, and provides the seller with information on calculating how to apply the sales tax to the cost of the vehicle. The NADA Official Used Car Guide calculates price values for both consumers and sellers, and provides the basis for calculating sales tax.
After understanding specific regulations and pricing, anyone considering selling a used car should first search databases such as Docstoc to find papers, PowerPoints, or forums that share experiences and advice. Owners need to search both general terms such as "pitfalls to avoid when selling a used car" and specific terms, like questions about particular advertising companies.
This additional research will help the owner decide whether she will benefit more from a private sale or a trade with a dealership. While naturally a car owner stands to gain by selling a car full price himself, the convenience of a trade-in may result in a better vehicle for the owner without taking as much precious time away from them. Even during a trade-in, the owner of the car should take the time to visit several dealers, use the NADA guide to understand the model's worth, and take into account seasonal price timing and other tips that will ensure the best value for the vehicle. The DMV website should include a list of dealerships in the owner's area, both for locational convenience and fraud avoidance purposes.
Next, the car owner must find a buyer and make a legal sale. If an owner chooses to advertise online, advertisement for the car works just like any other advertisement: the more websites that include links to the car, and the higher the SEO of the car description itself, the easier it is for search engines to notice. Sometimes it may help to leave helpful comments on prominent used car blogs—while car owners should not stoop to spam advertising, creating an online presence with a signature linked to an advertisement page may make selling the car easier. Browsing car blogs also gives owners a better idea of how to sell their cars quickly, as well as some understanding of the competition. If an owner chooses to advertise in the local newspaper or through other local means, he should perform a quick web search of similar used cars in his area to find out what kinds of prices and qualities he's competing against. Most importantly, advertise honestly.
Finally, download common vehicle registration and transfer forms from the DMV. The most important form, the Bill of Sale, serves as a receipt and proof of purchase, and must include detailed vehicle information, mileage and pricing information, as well as the signature of purchaser and the seller the car. The Bill of Sale may be downloaded from a DMV website, or the individual selling the car may write up his own. The Bill of Sale must go on record with the DMV, the purchaser, and the original car owner, and the purchaser should pay before signing it. The buyer will have to register new tags and receive the keys; it may be a good idea to present the registration forms to the buyer along with the bill of sale just as a mark of professionalism. The seller then has only to cancel the insurance for the car, and it's ownership has been fully transferred.
Photo courtesy of LVCHEN via Flickr