How To Sell A Car In Ohio

Dustin Hawley | Mar 04, 2021

Selling a car to a private buyer can often be confusing for a first-time seller. With the multitude of state and county guidelines that apply to each state, even savvy car sellers need to familiarize themselves with the peculiarities of their state’s system.

how to sell a car in Ohio

Thankfully, regulations in the state of Ohio are relatively simple and straightforward compared to many other states. Here’s a brief overview of how to sell a car in Ohio.

Perform An Emissions Test

Certain counties in Ohio require vehicles to undergo emissions testing before you can legally sell or register the car. Emission testing is required in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties. However, it’s not required for vehicles that are more than 25 years old.

In all other Ohio counties, no emissions testing is required. Regardless, it may be in your best interest to have a test performed anyway. For instance, if you’re in Ashtabula county, you might find that many prospective buyers are from counties where testing is required and will therefore be seeking a vehicle that has passed the test.

Additionally, it’s also courteous to run a vehicle history report for potential buyers. It saves them the trouble of doing it themselves and provides some confidence that you’re dealing with them in good faith, which is most certainly a dynamic that can help seal the deal.

Make Sure You Have A Clean Title

If you own your car outright, just having a clean title is half the battle of selling your vehicle, as it eliminates the need for additional paperwork. A clean title is legible, not torn, and (most importantly) contains accurate information. It also means a title with no lien on it.

If you still owe money on your car, you’ll have to pay off the remaining balance of the loan in order to have the lien removed from your title. Alternatively, you have the option of having the buyer pay the lien holder directly, but you’ll have to wait for a new title. It’s typically only a viable option if you’re selling a car to a friend or family member.

In the event that you have lost or misplaced your title, you’ll need to apply for a duplicate title with the DMV. You must do this in the county where the title was originally issued, and you will have to pay a small fee.

Advertise Your Car

With your clean title in hand, you can now post an ad on Craigslist or another similar marketplace. It can be beneficial to place several ads on different platforms, increasing exposure and giving you the ability to receive more offers.

Make sure that your ads include pictures, including snapshots of the exterior of the car as well as the interior. It also doesn’t hurt to take some pictures of the engine so that prospective buyers can gauge its condition. Clearly state the make, model, and year of your car, as well as the mileage. Make sure to be transparent and disclose if there is any damage to the vehicle, especially if that damage is not readily apparent in the photos.

Along the same lines, don’t sell yourself short! If your car features an upgraded sound system or aftermarket seats, let buyers know about it. Those are great selling points that are worth mentioning and provide tangible value to the car.

Last but not least, remember to include your contact information. Even the best ad will not do you any good if prospective buyers have no way to reach you. A phone number is the best communication method, but it doesn’t hurt to include an email address as well.

Fill Out The Odometer Disclosure Statement

When you’ve found your buyer, you’ll both need to fill out the Odometer Disclosure Statement, BMV form 3724. It serves as an official record of the car’s mileage at the time of sale and proves that you and the buyer have both agreed on that figure.

Sign The Title In The Presence Of A Notary

After completing the actions listed above, the only remaining step is for both you and the buyer to sign the back of the title. In the state of Ohio, this must be done in the presence of a notary. Once signed by both the buyer and the seller, the notary will then put their seal on the title, confirming that they witnessed the transaction.

At this point, the money should change hands. Ohio does not legally require its citizens to provide a bill of sale, but it’s usually a good idea to create one anyway for tax purposes.

When you sell your car, also make sure to keep your license plates. They can either be turned over to the BMV, or re-registered to another vehicle. License plates do not change ownership with the sale of a vehicle.

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