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View Full Version : Selling a car - what about the plates?


Mama Zappa
10-21-2006, 08:46 PM
We'll hopefully be selling our old car via private sale in the next week or so. I know about filling in the info on the title (odometer, sold-to, etc.) but what about the license plates that are on the car?

My weak google-fu seems to imply that we have to remove and retain the plates; however, how would the purchaser then be able to drive the car home w/o getting pulled over? Or should we leave the plates on and trust that the purchaser will get the car re-registered promptly.

And should we get the buyer sign something to leave with us, confirming the purchase? (I'm thinking in case we need to prove to the DMV that it's been sold).

We're in Virginia, for what that's worth. I've never sold a car privately before, as you can tell!

nivlac
10-21-2006, 08:58 PM
Don't know anything about Virginia, but the last time I sold a car privately I left the plates on. I saw no need to hang onto them. Be sure to file the notice of transfer and release of liability to the DMV ASAP.

Shagnasty
10-21-2006, 09:01 PM
It depends on the state. In Masscahusetts, the plates go with the individual and you keep them for life basically. In other states, they go with the vehicle. There is no way to say in general.

Here is your info however:

http://dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/citizen/vehicles/selling.asp

Mama Zappa
10-21-2006, 09:12 PM
It depends on the state. In Masscahusetts, the plates go with the individual and you keep them for life basically. In other states, they go with the vehicle. There is no way to say in general.

Here is your info however:

http://dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/citizen/vehicles/selling.asp
Thanks, Shagnasty - that's the page I stumbled across earlier which told me I should keep the plates myself; it doesn't tell me what the buyer is supposed to do about plates in the interim, though.

Maybe we just meet 'em at the DMV and make the exchange there? or can private sellers do some sort of temporary plates? The VA DMV site is mute on that subject (grrrr).

Don't know anything about Virginia, but the last time I sold a car privately I left the plates on. I saw no need to hang onto them. Be sure to file the notice of transfer and release of liability to the DMV ASAP. Definitely! I'd just as soon not face the assorted penalties for failng to do that.

robby
10-21-2006, 11:07 PM
I've sold several cars privately. I've never allowed the buyer to keep the plates.

For my first sale (in Rhode Island), the buyer gave me the cash and I filled out the bill-of-sale and signed over the title. He left the car at my place (but took the keys), and headed off to the DMV to register the vehicle and get plates. He then came back with the plates, attached them, and left. Him keeping the plates was not an option, as the sale took place in Rhode Island, and my plates were Texas plates. (I was in the military.)

For my second sale (in Connecticut), after the exchange of a cashier's check and the paperwork, I drove the car to the buyer's house, and then removed the plates. It was up to him to register the vehicle and get new plates.

For my third sale (in CT), I sold the car to a friend who lived in Massachusetts. After completing the sale, I took off my CT plates, and he (illegally) put on some MA plates that he borrowed from his broken-down pickup truck to make the drive home. Then he registered the vehicle in MA.

Cars.com (http://cars.com/) some good info on selling cars, as well as a sample bill of sale. Actually, the current sample bill of sale on the website is a bit of overkill, IMHO. Here's what I've used:

Note 1: I AM NOT A LAWYER!
Note 2: Check with your state DMV for any state-specific requirements.

"SAMPLE BILL OF SALE

I, ___________________ (seller), in consideration of xxxx THOUSAND xxxx HUNDRED DOLLARS ($x,xxx), do hereby sell, transfer and convey to ___________________ (buyer), the following vehicle:
Make:
Model:
Year:
VIN:
Odometer reading: _______________________ miles

I, the undersigned seller, do sell the above-described vehicle to the buyer for the amount shown and certify that all of the information provided in this Bill of Sale is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge.

I, the undersigned buyer, acknowledge receipt of this Bill of Sale and understand there is no guarantee or warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the above-described property. It is also understood that the above-stated vehicle is sold in “as is” condition, with no representation made as to its fitness or mechanical condition.

Dated this xth day of Month, 2006.

Seller Signature: ________________
Seller Name (printed): ________________
Street Address: ________________
City: ________________ State: ______ ZIP: _______

Buyer Signature: ________________
Buyer Name (printed): ________________
Street Address: ________________
City: ________________ State: ______ ZIP: _______"


Both you and the buyer should keep a copy of this. If you don't have a copier handy, print out two copies, and sign both, so you both have an original.

picunurse
10-21-2006, 11:12 PM
In Washington the plates stay with the car.

Hello Again
10-22-2006, 12:51 AM
In Virginia you must bring a Notarized bill of sale to the DMV. Most banks have a Notary on staff free to account holders. The easiest thing to do is have buyer and seller meet at the buyer's bank, have a a money order or certified check drawn up (depending on the amount, both are guaranteed funds), sign a bill of sale, have it notarized and go right to the DMV together. Seller has to sign a couple things on the title, like the exact mileage on the vehicle and such. Seller pulls the plates (don't forget your tools!), wishes the buyer many happy miles, and toddles off. Buyer can put the new plates straight on the vehicle in the DMV parking lot.

Plates do NOT stay with the car in Virginia.

IANAEmployee of the Virginia DMV. But I did just buy a car from a private seller there last January. :)

pulykamell
10-22-2006, 01:37 AM
In Illinois, the seller keeps them. The person buying the car heads down to the currency exchange, presents the title, and gets temp plates while applying for permanent license plates.

Br'er Lapin
10-22-2006, 01:51 AM
Since other posts are saying that you keep the plates in your states, I'd like to warn you NOT to just send the buyer home with your plates anyway and trust that they'll get it reregistered. If they decide to just leave your plates on, you'll be in trouble if they ever get a parking ticket, caught on camera speeding, etc. Of course, you can use your bill of sale to prove that you have sold the car, but it's still an extremely annoying thing to have to deal with. My mother had to this happen to her, and she was getting parking tickets on the car for years, even though she presented her case each time it happened.

enipla
10-22-2006, 09:43 AM
I made the mistake of leaving the plates on a jeep I sold.

Guy got in a hit and run. Made for a few tense moments, and me tracking the jeep down.

Mama Zappa
10-22-2006, 10:42 AM
(snip enipla's and Bre'r Lappin's cautionary tales of what could happen if we left the plates on) Good point and I was worried about that sort of thing happening. Maybe we'll either drive the car to the DMV ourselves and meet the buyer there, or as someone else suggested meet the buyer at his bank.

What if the buyer happens to have plates already (e.g. from another car already sold)? Can he just put those on the car?

Hello Again, does the bill of sale actually need to be notarized? I don't recall anything being notarized when we "sold" Typo Knig's car back in 1998 (it was totalled; we had to sign ttle over to the insurance company). I'm just thinking of the hassle if the guy wants to pay cash, for example! Also minimizing the amount of time we need to take off from a workday.

motomoon
10-22-2006, 11:14 AM
What if the buyer happens to have plates already (e.g. from another car already sold)? Can he just put those on the car?
If I read this correctly, you're asking if the plates can be transferred? I don't know for sure, but would guess that you'd have to register the plates to the new car with the DMV, otherwise that would be misuse of plates. You can get a ticket for that, ask me how I know. :p

jackdavinci
10-22-2006, 07:50 PM
In New York you can transfer the plates to a different car that you yourself own, as long as you indicate such on the new vehicles registration application. If you are giving up ownership of the car, or even if you just want to cancel the insurance you have to turn the plates in to the DMV. No car can have a registration without insurance, and no car can have plates without a registration.

dauerbach
10-22-2006, 08:39 PM
In Maryland, leaving the plates on the car is not an option. There is like a $250/day fine for cancelling insurance on a car before the DMV either gets the old plates back, or the paperwork is done that transfers the plates to a different car you bought (this is for buying from a dealer only, with trade in). The purchaser can now get temporary tags, just like the dealers always could, or just go and get new plates. When I sold a car in Pennsylvania, the buyer, who seemed to know exactly what he was doing, tied a very long rope between a car with tags and the just sold car without tags, and with a friend just drove off. I can see how a police officer, seeing this, would have to be an extreme jerk to ticket them. It's not like they are going to do this any longer than necessary.

Mama Zappa
10-27-2006, 02:13 PM
A quick thank-you to everyone who contributed to this thread!!

We sold the car last night (using the sample bill-of-sale robby posted, thanks!) and we wound up having the buyer drive the car home with our plates on - he had no other way home. I met him today near his office to get the plates from him.

So, technically not quite kosher, and I sure hope he didn't run over anyone on the way home last night... but I think we're square now. I turned the plates in to the DMV this afternoon.

Now I just have to cancel the insurance.

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