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What to do after you sell your car

Once you sell your car, here are some important things you should do

handing over car keys
Photo (c) dima_sidelnikov - Getty

Your vehicle may be the most expensive item you own, so selling it can be stressful. However, the process isn’t complete even after the buyer hands you the cash. Here are some essential things you need to do before you go searching for your next car.

1. Do a final check and clear out the car

Do a sweep and make sure you got everything out of the vehicle. Not only do you want it to be clean for the buyer, but you may lose important things like paperwork or car chargers if you don’t do a thorough check. Look for any personal items under the seats and floor mats, between cushions and inside the glove box and trunk.

2. Get a bill of sale

As with any significant transaction, you want legal proof of the sale. Some states require a bill of sale, but you should want this for your records regardless of your state’s obligations. These forms reveal essential details such as the car’s mileage, sale price and other specifics that may come in handy if there is a dispute in the future.

3. Get a DMV “release of liability”

You should take this crucial step immediately after you sell your car. In fact, most states require this within five to 10 days or you’ll be fined. When you fill out this paperwork, you are officially informing the DMV that you no longer own the vehicle and aren’t liable for things like parking tickets or any criminal activity involving your old car. Every state has it’s own process, and you may also need to file a “notice of transfer,” so make sure you understand what the laws are in your area. Expect to provide the following information to fill out this form:

  • The buyer’s name and address
  • The odometer number at the time of sale
  • The license plate info and VIN

4. Cancel your insurance

When dealing with a large sale, you sometimes forget the little things — like canceling your insurance! Call your insurance company and make sure to stop paying as soon as the keys are exchanged so you can save on that month’s payment. If you’re planning on purchasing another car as a replacement, discuss this with the insurance representative to avoid a gap in coverage.

5. Transfer or cancel any e-toll collection

Like auto insurance, some people forget their electronic toll collection service is registered to their vehicles. Whether you use an E-ZPass or a toll collection service for a specific state, you should remember to cancel it or transfer it to your new vehicle.

truck transporting cars
Photo (c) Kat72 - Getty

Remember: collecting the cash after someone purchases your car isn’t the end of the selling process! Also, if you’re shipping a vehicle to a buyer out of state, we can help. Check out our guide for vehicle shipping companies to make sure your car, truck, motorcycle or boat gets to where it needs to go safely.

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