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Clunker Title & Registration question

If selling a 20+ year old car for a couple hundred bucks, then should the owner force the buyer to change the title & registration? Since the buyer is only paying minimum cost for a car, s/he may skimp on paying $50+ for the title document to be changed into his/her name. The buyer could rack-up parking tickets or be caught on a survellance camera using the car in commission of a crime. Then the police show up at the door of the former owner. A mess for to deal with to explain/prove you no longer own the car!

When selling a ‘clunker,’ should the seller adjust the price to include the title fee, and then submit the paperwork directly to the Motor Vehicles Office?

I’d check with the DMV, in Texas there are steps you take to protect yourself, like removing the license plates/stickers and sending in a form notifying the DMV you sold the vehicle.

You might want to just sell the vehicle for the scrap metal value. Most cars sell here in the $300-$400 range. Selling a running vehicle for $200 is giving it away. I don’t sell a vehicle until the buyer meets me at the courthouse to change the title into their name. I never adjust the price because the buyer is responsible for the title and transfer.

At the minimum, I would make a copy of the title, take it to the DMV and tell them you have sold the vehicle. Be sure to remove your license plates…

I’ve been messed over three times now. Its best to go down to the DMV together and make the change. You absolutely definately need to insist on a title change for all the reasons listed and liabiltiy. Much easier to avoid a problem than to resolve it. Took me a whole day and affidavits to prove I was no longer the owner on a $200 deal.

On my latest one, the cousin of a girl at work, needed a car badly to get to work. I had too many so I sold it to her for $50 with a full tank of gas and a new $70 battery. Waxed, polished, shampooed. Lot of miles but a great little car and all it needed was a couple tires and a light switch. My only insistance was to immediately transfer the title. She never did and I ended up having to force the title change again for another $10.

I don’t trust anyone anymore and you need to protect yourself. If somebody gets killed with your former car, having a bill of sale or a signature on a title isn’t going to save you from a long hassle.

In California you fill out a release of liability form. You can even do this online. If you mail it in, use certified mail. DMV has been known to lose paperwork from time to time.

@asecular several of my colleagues have had horror stories regarding car sales. They all complained that the DMV “lost” their release of liability forms.
When I sold my last car, I completed the release of liability online, not five minutes after the car was gone.

I’ve no idea which state the OP is in, but in Oklahoma one can simply go to any notary public, sign the title off, and be done with it; usually for a 1 or 2 dollar charge.
Once the notary dates and signs off on it then it’s a done deal as to the seller.

Personally, I would not want someone who I did not know going out and doing who knows what in a car on which the the title did not have all bases covered as far as the seller was concerned.

@ok4450, what if the buyer never takes the title in to be transferred? Here in GA, we pull the plates, too. A plate-less car needs to show proof of sale to avoid being impounded. And with the new plate-scanning cameras, putting a plate on a car it’s not registered to is a jail-able offense.

@BustedKnuckles that’s what the release of liability is all about. Once that’s done, the new “owner” can do whatever he wants with the car. It’s literally not your problem anymore. If any parking tickets arrive, just mail in a COPY of the dated release of liability.

It makes no difference whether you sell a “clunker” or a new Rolls Royce - you sign over the title and buyer must get a new title, register the vehicle in the buyers name, and get a new license plate. The seller removes the license plate and turns it into the appropriate office, either the DMV or a state or local police department depending on the regulations in that state.

NEVER sell a car and let the buyer drive off with your registration and your plate. And, cancel your insurance on the sold car immediately.

The seller does not adjust the price for title, tax, and other fees. All this is the responsibility of the new owner.

@UncleTurbo in California the license plate stays with the car.

Yes, in California you can keep vanity plates, but otherwise they stay with car.

A guy I knew bought a car. It was cheap. Rather than register it he drove it until the registration was near expiration. Then he sent in a change of address form under the previous owner’s name and sent a money order to renew the registration. That way, he didn’t have to smog it or pay for a new title. He saved what? $40 maybe. He looked trustworthy and could spare the money but…

I knew the motivation of an Air Force member who wanted to buy my old car just to get the base registration sticker, the remainder of my registration, a car to drive without insurance and whatever illegal else he could get. So I took the base sticker off and put a two week temporary one on it. Killed that sale, but it was better than selling the car then reporting him, or losing my base driving privilege for not removing the sticker.

To add: He sent in the change of address right away so DMV would know where to send the renewal. Man, some people!

Yep, in Minnesota and South Dakota the plates stay with the car. In Wisconsin, the plates stay with the original owner. Actually I like that idea of taking the plates and making the new owner get new ones.

In states where the plate stays with the car, there is no way for the current owner to report that he no longer owns and no longer drives the car? How does that work?

In this crazy world I’d not be comfortable with someone I don’t know driving a car I’m responsible for. I’d cancel my insurance immediately once I transfer the car - but what about DMV in these states where the plate goes with the car?

In Ohio, the plates stay with the owner and the title needs to be notarized when sold. This way, the most obvious identifier for the car, the license plates, can be removed by the seller. Copy the notarized title and file away the proof the car no longer belongs to you. If the buyer doesn’t apply for a title, he can’t get anything more than a 30 day tag for the car. No issues, no liability.

@uncleturbo Ownership is reported to the DMV. So when you sell a car in Minnesota, you sign the title. The new owner then goes to a local DMV office, pays the sales tax and registration fee, and applies for a new title. A new title then comes in the mail. Liabilty is transfered at the time the title is signed over to the new owner, but it still needs to be registered with the state and the taxes paid. As a seller, you can also do a forced title transfer which I have done three times, if the new owner does not register the vehicle. Its best just to go down together and transfer the title-there are many private deputy offices all over that handle it.

Seems to work except not having plates on the car would be more effective in insuring people transfered the title and paid the sales tax. But then, tax is based on the value of the car so what would you do with the plates? In Wisconsin, the individual owns the plates and can be used on whatever vehicle you have. To each his own I guess.

In Ca. the seller should detach the disclaimer form, fill it out and mail it to DMV. It’s one protection that is sometimes ignored by sellers. Don’t be lazy!

In TN, we just sign the title over to the buyer and then keep the plate. You don’t have to turn it in to the DMV, but you aren’t supposed to leave it on the car. I guess if you wanted to you could write up a bill of sale, but (here anyway, not sure about where the OP is) when the title is signed over you are released of any liability.