Buying a Used Car from a Private Seller in Alaska

Avoid dealer fees and get a better bargain when you buy your next vehicle from a private seller. Here's what you need to know to navigate the process in Alaska.
When you buy a car from a private seller, there are a few more details to manage. Luckily, we’ve figured out how to make the process much easier. Read on to learn the steps you’ll need to take—and how PrivateAuto can help.

Should I Buy from a Dealer or a Private Seller?

Traditionally, dealerships have offered more convenience, while private sales have offered better value.

Here at PrivateAuto, we’re big fans of going the private seller route. Here are the advantages:

1. Get a better price by cutting out the middleman and going to the source. Dealers must buy low and sell high to make a spread and keep the lights on.
2. Avoid fees. Car dealers charge documentation fees that range from $50 to over $1,000.
3. You drive the deal on your terms: PrivateAuto allows you to make offers and negotiate the best deal directly with the seller.
4. In some states, buying from a private seller means no vehicle sales tax. For example, Arizona, Hawaii, and Nevada charge sales taxes on retail (dealership) car purchases, but not private-party ones.

We think you should be able to complete a private-party transaction as easily as you could buy a used car from a dealership. PrivateAuto's tech-enabled solutions make this possible.
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What Are the Steps to Buy a Used Car in Alaska?

You’ll go through the following sequence when you buy a private-party used car in Alaska:

1. Find a car to buy
2. Take the car for a test drive
3. Handle paperwork
4. Pay the seller
5. Transfer ownership
6. Register the car
7. Get a new plate

Let’s go over this process in more detail.

Find the Right Car at the Right Price

Obviously, you need to find a car to buy. Based on your price range, vehicle requirements, and other factors, you probably have a good idea of what you’re looking for. It’s time to find it.

Start Searching

When it comes to finding your dream ride online, here are your options for finding the perfect vehicle for you:

Online classifieds
a. Local classifieds such as KSL Cars (Utah)
b. National classifieds such as Craigslist and OfferUp.
Vehicle listing sites such as Autotrader
Social media listings (e.g., cars for sale on Facebook Marketplace)
Auction websites such as Bring a Trailer and eBay Motors

While these sites can be great resources to find that Land Rover Defender you’re looking for, they fall short when it comes time for the transaction. That’s why we refer to them as “meetingplaces” instead of true marketplaces.

PrivateAuto is a transactional marketplace that offers self-serve technology solutions for every part of the deal. If you’d like to see how easy buying privately can be, browse our used cars for sale to start the process.

We don’t hate other listing sites. In fact, some even have a lot more private-party car inventory than we do. But we still want you to have the transactional security and convenience that our users enjoy.

That’s why we created DealNow. DealNow allows you to create your own dealroom on PrivateAuto, invite the owner of the car you want to buy, and fast-track the transaction. Get your deal started now!

Do Some Negotiating

Obviously, you want to get the very best car for your budget. Our platform allows you to make easy offers on cars. You never know if the vehicle’s owner will accept less— until you ask.

On other sites, you’d have to message the seller and have an awkward conversation. PrivateAuto lets you make an offer with the click of a button. The seller can then accept, reject, or counteroffer.

Research the Car

Smart buyers want to know about the car they’re paying for. The two best ways to learn about a vehicle’s background are a vehicle history report and research on the car’s title.

Conduct a Vehicle History Report

A vehicle history report is a really smart idea when buying a pre-owned car. It covers ownership history and maintenance records and demonstrates how well the seller cared for their car.

We provide a vehicle history report for all premium listings, for your peace of mind.

Here are some reasons vehicle history reports are good to have.

1. You know how well the car has been cared for.
2. You have visibility into any accidents or insurance claims.
3. You can see service records, major repairs, and other work.

A vehicle history report can help you steer clear of buying a bad used car.

Research the Title

Before you meet up with the seller, it’s advised to do preliminary research on the car title.
The best thing to use is the National Insurance Crime Bureau website to research the title of a car to protect yourself from being a car-buying scam victim.

While it doesn't happen often, sometimes the seller will attempt to mislead or outright deceive. For instance, they may try to pass off a salvage title as a clean title.

Good title research will help you check for:

1. Reports of the car having been stolen
2. The car has been declared a total loss in an insurance claim
3. An outstanding lien (or lien release)

All you have to do is ask the seller for their full name and the vehicle identification number (VIN) in advance of meeting up. Run the title check, and have one less thing to worry about.

Take the Car For a Test Drive

Unless you’re buying a car remotely, you’re going to want to test-drive it. PrivateAuto lets you arrange the test drive in a safe, easy, and convenient manner that never reveals your personal information to the seller.

1. Our handy in-app scheduler allows you to pick from the time slots the seller has chosen. No back-and-forth conversations. You'll also see the seller's preferred meetup location.
2. You can opt to transact with verified sellers only, which tends to weed out bad actors who prefer to operate in the shadows.

Complete Alaska Paperwork

Paperwork is a critical part of the transaction process. Here is the paperwork involved in an Alaska used car transaction:

1. Title
2. Odometer disclosure statement
3. Bill of sale

Alaska Certificate of Title

You and the seller need to fill out the official Alaska Certificate of Title. An Alaska title will require both you and the seller to complete the following information at the time of the sale:

Odometer disclosure
Seller’s hand-printed name, signature, and address (if there is more than one seller listed on the title, both sellers will need to sign)
Date of sale
Purchase price
Your hand-printed name and signature

Odometer Disclosure

In addition to the mileage disclosure on the title, Alaska requires you to complete a separate odometer disclosure form for vehicles that are less than 20 years old.

Lucky for you, our in-app workflow includes an odometer disclosure entry, where the buyer and the seller confirm mileage before taking the next step.

Alaska Bill of Sale

Alaska requires you to complete a bill of sale when you buy a used car in the state. It protects you by memorializing the terms of the sale, the VIN, the selling price, mileage, and the names and signatures of both parties. If the seller ever wants to contest the transaction or any part of it, you have their signature on a legal document with all of the terms and details to back you up.

We make it easy with an official Alaska bill of sale right in our app. You and the seller review the details, and then digitally sign the bill of sale after inspecting the car. No printing or scanning—just sign it electronically in the PrivateAuto mobile app. It’s stored in your PrivateAuto account as a reference, should you ever need it.

Pay for the Car

Let's face it, there aren't a lot of great options to pay the seller for the car—or haven’t been until now. Cash is inconvenient and risky, PayPal has fees, Venmo and Zelle have low transfer limits, and checks and wire transfers are slow and unwieldy.

We got tired of the limitations associated with existing payment methods, so we created a solution. It's called PrivateAuto Pay. Our users call it magic. Here’s how it works:

1. No transfer fees.
2. Instantaneous transfers. Close the deal when you meet for the test drive.
3. Works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. No coordinating around banker’s hours.
4. There is no exchange of contact or banking info.
5. Act as your own escrow service with our secure deal flow.

You’ll never want to buy a car any other way. Oh, and if you’re buying a car on a different website, invite the seller to DealNow to enjoy all the PrivateAuto benefits.
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Alaska Title Transfer and Registration

After the seller signs the title over to you, you’ll go to the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office to complete the title transfer process. At the same time, you’ll register the vehicle in your name, get new license plates, and pay your Alaska sales tax owed.

Here’s what you’ll need to provide when you visit your local DMV office:

The Certificate of Title, signed over to you by the previous vehicle owner
A completed application for a certificate of title
Registration paperwork
Lien information (if applicable)
Payment for the Alaska borough sales tax
Payment for Alaska’s vehicle title transfer fee: $15
Payment for Alaska registration fees: $100
Valid ID or driver's license
Proof of insurance
Read our complete guide to an Alaska title transfer]( for more info on the subject.

Alaska Vehicle FAQ

How much are license plates in Alaska?

A standard Alaska license plate is included in the price of your initial two-year registration. If you want a personalized plate, it will cost between $30 and $100.

How to register an out-of-state vehicle in Alaska?

How often do I need to renew my registration in Alaska?

Does Alaska have a lemon law for used cars?

Can I get a temporary registration in Alaska?

What kind of auto insurance do I need in Alaska?