Seller Rights

Selling a car involves much more than simply providing an asking price and receiving a few thousand dollars after negotiations take place. On the contrary, there are several responsibilities that you have as a buyer as well as some rights that you should be made aware of. Although these can vary from state to state, there are still some guidelines that will need to be followed beforehand to make certain that the entire process runs smoothly and efficiently. Let's examine this to make everything very clear.

The Title

As the sale of any car tends to center around the title, it makes sense that we address this topic first. You need to make sure that the title contains all of the correct information about the vehicle. Common areas to examine are the year, the make, the model and the vehicle identification number (VIN). If you are selling a car that is still being financed, you might be required to obtain what is known as a lien release along with the title. Check with your bank to see if this is the case.

Safety and Emissions Records

It is the responsibility of the seller to make sure that all safety and emissions records are accurate and up to date. Some states ask that this be performed within 60 days before the sale. Keep in mind that these tests will have to confirm to the state of the BUYER, so out-of-state transactions will need to pass the tests associated with their residence. Consult with the Department of Motor Vehicles for more information.

The Bill of Sale

The seller is also responsible for obtaining the bill of sale from the Department of Motor Vehicles. While this form will differ slightly from state to state, its contents are generally similar. These include the names and addresses of both parties, the make and model of the vehicle, the sale price and any applicable state, federal or local taxes. Keep in mind that any transaction is not considered legal if this bill of sale is not obtained and signed by both the buyer and the seller.

The License Plate

Finally, the seller will need to remove the old license plates from the vehicle before it is transferred to the buyer. This can help to avoid the car being wrongly associated with any traffic violations in the future. Assuming that the plate has not expired, it can be transferred to any other vehicle (such as a new car). Some states require that you report any plate transfer to the DMV.

The Rights of the Seller

We should first briefly address what are commonly referred to as used car “lemon laws”. These state that the buyer has rights to contest a transaction within a certain period of time if the car is unfit or unsafe to drive. In the same respect, the seller has the obligation to contest such a claim in court. However, only six states formally recognise such laws. These are Minnesota, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and New Mexico. If you do not reside in these areas, there still could be other informal guidelines to look into.

It is the right of the seller to verify all information that is provided by the buyer. This commonly includes:

  • Personal information such as name, age, address and Social Security Number
  • Banking details
  • A credit history report (upon request)

If any of these items are not presented, the seller is under no obligation to commit to the transaction.

Assuming that the seller feels that the buyer is making unfair accusations in regards to how the transaction took place or to the condition of the car, he or she has the right to take the buyer to court and contest such claims. However, this will usually need to be done within a specific time frame (such as 90 days) in order for the complaint to be formally recognized.

It is essential to understand the rights and responsibilities of the seller before any type of transaction begins. This is the best way for you to be prepared and to protect yourself from any legal wrongdoings.