Selling a Car in Washington State: Everything You Need to Know

Selling a Car in Washington State: Everything You Need to Know

You need to sell your car, truck or SUV privately to put cash in your pocket, but you do not want to mess it up. Finding a buyer can be difficult without help and getting the price you want complicates things further.

Once you find a buyer who will pay your price, completing your car sale should be easy, right? You sign over the title, hand over it and the keys, and they give you the money. In reality, the process is a little more complicated than that. Each state has its own rules and regulations. So if you are selling a car in Washington State, you need to follow that state’s law. Fortunately, the Washington State government site gives detailed information on the entire sales process.

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Remove Vehicle License Plates

Remove your license plates before the new owner takes possession, even if the vehicle is not your primary one. Leaving the plates on even for a day or two exposes you to possible traffic fines, towing costs, Good to Go! Tickets, etc. that should be the responsibility of the new owners. Plus, they will be highly motivated to take care of transferring ownership into their names if they have to supply the plates immediately. Don't complicate things - remove your license plates promptly.

Report the Sale

Washington State requires you to file a sales report when you sell, surrender ownership or donate certain vehicles such as cars, trucks, travel trailers, motorcycles. This step isn’t just an annoying formality. It removes your liability for civil and criminal liabilities incurred by the new owners. Also, this move also pressures the new owners to complete the transfer of ownership.

These are the situations that call for a sales report:

  • Selling your vehicle privately, out-of-state or on consignment
  • Trading your vehicle to a dealer or a private party
  • Giving your vehicle as a gift to someone
  • Donating your vehicle to a charity
  • Giving your vehicle to a wrecking yard
  • Turning your vehicle over to an insurance company
  • Disposing of your vehicle

The state does not require you to report boat sales. But in any other vehicle sales situation, you would be wise to check the state website for the rules. That way, you will avoid potential hassles and possible fines.

Collect Your Vital Information

Many sales have been delayed because the buyers and sellers did not have all the information they needed on hand. You’ll speed the process if you have the following with you:

  • Your complete license plate number
  • The sale price - in the case of a gift or inheritance, use a zero.
  • The VIN (Vehicle ID number)- This identifying number is usually found on the left front of the dashboard behind the steering wheel. Sometimes, it may be in an alternative area.

The state recommends double-checking all this information before you file your report to avoid a trip to a licensing location to correct any errors and file a new report.

How and When to File Your Report

You only have five days to file your report before the transaction exposes you to criminal and financial liabilities incurred by the new owner, so do not delay. The filing fee is $13.25, and you can file your report online. If you prefer, you can download the report and mail it to a vehicle licensing location or visit one in person and do the paperwork there.

If for some reason the sale falls through after you file the report, visit a vehicle licensing location and have it deleted as soon as possible.

Update Your Tolling Pass

This step is easy to forget. Be sure to update your Good to Go! Pass to avoid any confusion and prevent paying the new owner’s fines.


Transferring the Title

The buyer must transfer the title. This step is not your responsibility, but you should know what is involved. The buyer must complete the following for a private vehicle sale or vehicle gift within 15 days to avoid a fine.

  • The buyer must have a current title with your signature on it to release ownership.
  • They must have a bill of sale that states the purchase price or have a statement of gift signed by you.
  • The buyer also needs a completed Vehicle Title Application.
  • If the vehicle is 10 years old or under, the buyer needs a completed Odometer Disclosure form.
  • Certain fees apply.

Washington State allows title transfers by mail or in person at a license location.

The PrivateAuto Experience

Your auto sale will go smoothly if you follow state rules and use PrivateAuto. They will help you find a qualified buyer and to complete all the sale details. PrivateAuto takes care of many time-consuming tasks such as providing state documents that are ready to sign.

Selling your vehicle privately can be risky if you go it alone, but PrivateAuto removes those dangers. You can easily list your vehicle on the site and advertise it until you sell it. The site makes it easy to communicate with potential buyers without revealing your personal information. Plus, you can safely schedule a test drive online. PrivateAuto takes the difficulty out of private sales and puts the power in your hands.

Getting started is easy. Just visit the site and create your free account. PrivateAuto takes you through the sale step by step until it closes and you’ve received your money. If you are planning to sell a vehicle, PrivateAuto is the safe and profitable way to go.