How To Sell A Car In Texas

Dustin Hawley | Mar 04, 2021

With over twenty-nine million residents, Texas is the second-most populous state in the US. It is also home to the second largest number of vehicles, with fourteen million registered cars and trucks criss crossing the Lone Star State.

selling a car in Texas

With more than a million vehicle sales every year, the DMV has an established process. So, how does the process work? Here’s a guide to selling your car in the state of Texas.

1. Determine Your Car's Worth And Place An Ad

Before doing anything else, you’ll need to have a good idea of how much your vehicle is worth. That way, you’ll be able to determine a fair asking price. The best resource for this is Kelley Blue Book, which is the same publisher dealers use to set their pricing.

After deciding on an asking price, you’ll need to place an ad. There are many ways to go about doing this. You can place an advertisement on platforms like Craigslist, in the newspaper, or both if you want to receive more offers. 

Alternatively, you can take the old-fashioned approach and park your car with a “For Sale” sign in the window. However, before employing this approach, ensure that this is legal in your town and won’t fall afoul of any homeowners association bylaws.

When you place your ad, it should include all the essential information a buyer will need to make an educated, informed purchase. Accurately list the make, model, year, and condition, and make sure to include your contact information. This may seem like a given, but all too often, it is an overlooked step that could cost you an offer on your vehicle.

Speaking of offers, don’t simply accept the first reasonable proposal you receive. Best practice is to wait until you have at least three or four offers. In that case, you’ll have a strong idea of the interest in your vehicle, and you can then begin to see who’s willing to negotiate. Once you’ve received your best offer, it’s time to make an appointment with the buyer to test drive your car.

2. Document Your Vehicle’s History

Running a vehicle history report is not technically a requirement to sell a car in the state of Texas. That being said, most buyers are going to want one. So if you have all your repair and maintenance receipts, make sure they’re organized and easy to examine.

It also helps to get a vehicle history report from a company like Carfax. Potential buyers could always run their own Carfax report, but it helps if you make the sale as easy as possible for potential buyers if you have one on hand.

3. Have The Car Inspected

In addition to passing a state safety inspection, many buyers will ask to have the car inspected by a mechanic. This is perfectly normal, and it’s something that sellers should agree to.

However, any professional inspection should be paid for by the buyer, not the seller. If someone wants you to pay to have the vehicle inspection, you should consider that this is not standard practice and make your decision accordingly. With this dynamic present, you should expect potential buyers to want to have it inspected by a mechanic of their choice. After all, they are paying for the service.

4. Fill Out The Title

Once a prospective buyer has agreed to the purchase, the next step is to legally transfer ownership of the vehicle. Find the title for your car, fill out the odometer reading on the back, then sign and date it.

Keep in mind that this is a legal document. Use your real first and last name and make sure your handwriting is legible. Take your time with this step since any mistakes or strikeouts could potentially void your title.

If there’s a lienholder on the title, you’ll need to have them sign off as well. This will involve paying off any outstanding balance owed on the vehicle.

For individuals who have lost or misplaced their title, you’ll need to fill out Texas DMV Form VTR-34. It’s an Application for a Certified Copy of a Title, which requires a valid ID, a small administrative fee, and a signed lien release if the vehicle has a lien on it.

5. Complete The Buyer’s Application For The Title

With the original title filled out, the buyer will need to apply for a new copy in their name. To do this, they’ll need to fill out an application, DMV Form 130-U, and present it to the DMV. This form will require your signature as well, as legal proof that you’ve agreed to the sale.

Form 130-U also functions as a legal bill of sale. Make sure to fill out the sales price accurately since the buyer will be responsible for paying sales tax based on the amount listed. 

6. Remove The Plates And Registration Sticker

In Texas, the sold vehicle’s license plates remain with the seller; they do not become the buyer’s property. Make sure to remove them since they can ultimately be transferred to another vehicle. 

You’ll also need to remove the registration sticker. They’re virtually impossible to tear off by hand, so you’ll likely need to use a razor blade or other flat-ended tool to remove the sticker.

7. Report The Transaction To The State

The final step is to notify the state of the sale, and it is a vital action to take, as you can be responsible for tickets issued to any vehicle that’s still registered in your name. Legally, you have thirty days from the date of sale to report it, but it’s ideal to just take care of it immediately.

There are two ways to file a Motor Vehicle Transfer Notification. There’s an online form you can submit, or you can print off a paper form if you prefer to fill it out and mail a physical copy.

One final thing to be aware of is that a car is legally required to be insured at the time of the sale. So the buyer will already need to have an insurance policy in their name for the vehicle they are purchasing when they file their paperwork.

Selling A Junk Car In Texas

Selling a junk car in the state of Texas is an entirely different matter. Typically, junk car sellers are looking to offload their vehicles to a scrapyard or junkyard rather than a private buyer. In light of this, you’ll need to have a good idea of what your car is worth in scrap in order to negotiate a sale price. 

Just as you would with a private sale, consider getting a few different offers before making a decision. You might find one that’s significantly better than the rest. Additionally, when selling to a junkyard, remember that they should be paying for the tow. If a company wants you to pay for the vehicle to be towed, you can likely find a better offer if you call around to different locations.

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