Buying a Used Car In Colorado From a Private Seller

When purchasing a used car from a private seller in Colorado, the following vehicle-buying tips will help.
When you want to get the best used car for your price range, it’s important that you stay safe and secure. This article will help you navigate the Colorado car-buying process.

Oh, and, by the way: PrivateAuto has private-party used cars for sale in Colorado and also provides an end-to-end platform to get the deal done, from secure messaging with sellers to immediate payment transfers.

What is the Process of Purchasing a Used Car in Colorado?

In Colorado, you’ll go through the following sequence to buy a car from a private seller.

1. Find a seller who has the car you want
2. Negotiate a price you both can agree on
3. Take the car for a test drive
4. Handle paperwork
5. Pay the seller
6. Have the seller sign over the vehicle title
7. Register the car in your name and pay sales taxes and fees
8. Get new license plates

Let’s go over the process in more detail.
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Find a Car to Buy in Colorado

Whether you’re looking for a cheap car or a barely-used luxury vehicle, you’re better off buying from a private party than from a licensed Colorado dealer. Dealerships work by buying low and selling high to make a profit. Hence, it is better to cut out the middleman.

PrivateAuto has a wide selection of used cars for sale in Fort Collins, Denver, Colorado Springs, Boulder, and elsewhere across the state of Colorado. We have security and convenience features that none of our competitors have.

For instance, we verify the identity of all sellers, so you can know who you’re negotiating with. You can go through the used car listings and make offers within our app, and when the seller accepts your offer, you can proceed to schedule the test drive. It all happens within the app and you never have to give out your personal info.

Go For a Test Drive

When you find your dream vehicle for sale near you, and settle on a purchase price, it’s time to take the car for a test drive.

Schedule the Meetup

Other used vehicle marketplaces leave you to organize meetups on your own. This requires exchanging personal info and having a lot of back-and-forth with the seller. With PrivateAuto, your personal info is kept private. Our handy in-app scheduler allows the two of you to arrange the perfect time and place.

Research the Car History

It’s always a good idea, along with taking a used car for a test drive, to research its history. You can get a detailed history report through a service like CarFax. Or, you can get a car history report when you buy it through PrivateAuto.

AutoCheck now partners with PrivateAuto to provide buyers with a motor vehicle information check and report. When PrivateAuto sellers opt for a Premium listing, we include the vehicle history report for your peace of mind.

Optional Mechanical Inspection

Before buying the vehicle, you may want to perform a mechanical inspection on it. This is at your discretion, and is more advisable for vehicles that have higher mileage. Depending on your mechanical skill level, you can inspect it yourself at the time of the test drive. Or, you can coordinate with the seller and have it inspected by a professional mechanic.

PrivateAuto gives you all the tools and technology necessary to close the deal at the test drive meeting. If you’re opting for a professional vehicle inspection, you’ll be adding at least a couple extra days onto the closing process.

Handle Documentation

Paperwork is a key part of the transaction process. Different states have different document requirements, but here is the most common paperwork involved in a used car transaction:

Odometer statement
Bill of sale

Car Title

Both you and the seller will fill out the Certificate of Title thoroughly. Required information includes the following:

An odometer disclosure statement (for vehicles less than 10 years old)
Signature (completed after payment)
Odometer Disclosure Statement
When you purchase a vehicle that’s less than 10 years old, Federal law requires the seller to fill out the odometer reading statement (also called an odometer disclosure) on the back of the title.

Odometer Disclosure Statement

When you purchase a vehicle that’s less than 10 years old, Federal law requires the seller to fill out the odometer reading statement (also called an odometer disclosure) on the back of the title.

Fill out the Federal Odometer Disclosure Statement if there’s no room on the title.

You can verify the accuracy of the odometer readings the seller enters on the title by checking the odometer yourself. Keep in mind that there are severe penalties for sellers tampering with car odometers in order to provide inaccurate readings.

The PrivateAuto app includes an odometer reading entry, where both parties (buyer and seller) confirm mileage before taking the next step.

Bill of Sale in Colorado

In Colorado, a bill of sale is required if purchasing a vehicle from a private seller.

PrivateAuto includes a Colorado bill of sale as part of our standard in-app transaction process. At the appropriate phase in the transaction, both you and the seller will be prompted to e-sign the bill of sale within their mobile PrivateAuto app.

The whole transaction, including the bill of sale, can be completed in a few minutes when you meet for the test drive and approve the car. It’s so fast and convenient you won’t believe it. And then, you won't have to keep track of all your paperwork, you will always have the electronic bill of sale accessible in your PrivateAuto account to prove that the transaction was legitimate.

VIN Verification

As a buyer, check the vehicle identification number that the seller has written on the title. Carefully compare it to the actual VIN on the vehicle. You want to avoid the problem of having a wrong vehicle identification number on the title when you go to register your newly-bought car with the State of Colorado.

In the State of Colorado, only the Colorado State Highway Patrol or authorized law enforcement agency can perform a certified VIN Inspection.

The PrivateAuto app has a VIN field where buyers and sellers individually confirm the VIN. This helps eliminate errors (or the rare case of outright seller fraud).

Emissions Certificate

Colorado laws require the seller to provide the buyer with a passing emissions test that hasn't been used to register or renew a vehicle registration.

Most vehicles in Colorado require emissions inspections before registering.

Vehicles that don’t require emissions testing are:

Electric cars
Kit cars
Car registered as street rods
Diesel-powered cars (first four model years)
Gasoline-powered cars (first seven model years)

If the car that you are buying does not meet any of these criteria, find a Colorado DMV-authorized emissions check station and proceed with the test.

For locations of emissions check stations visit the Colorado DMV website.

For most cars, the fee for performing this test will be $25. If your vehicle fails the test, you can retake it within 10 days. That gives you enough time to fix whatever needs fixing with your vehicle’s high emissions.

Pay the Seller

It’s time for you to pay the seller for the car. There haven’t been a lot of good ways to send large amounts of cash in a private car transaction—until PrivateAuto arrived on the scene.

Welcome to PrivateAuto Pay

Our integrated banking gateway, PrivateAuto Pay, allows you to instantaneously send any amount. The seller will get the payment in a matter of seconds, whether it's a national holiday or late at night. We charge no payment processing fee. It’s truly revolutionary.

So, if you don’t like the idea of carrying a briefcase full of money or waiting for a check to clear, you’ll love PrivateAuto Pay.

Easy Financing Options

Oh, and if you didn't want to pay out-of-pocket for your next car, you can apply for a used vehicle loan right within the PrivateAuto app. When approved, your profile will show that you have verified funds, making you stand out from other buyers.

When closing the deal and sending payment, our lending partner will pay the seller in full. You'll make monthly car payments to the lender. It's that easy. Wondering how much your payments will be? Our handy car loan calculator will tell you.

Car Title Transfer

The key component of the entire transaction is transferring a Colorado car title from seller to buyer. When the seller signs the title and hands it to you, the car is legally yours. There are still some steps remaining for you to take following the title transfer, but you now own the car.

To transfer Colorado vehicle titles successfully, sellers must complete the Transfer of Title by Seller section on the front of the title certificate and include the name and address of the buyer, odometer information, the selling price, and the date sold.

When Multiple Owners are Listed on the Title

If there is more than one seller listed on the title, both sellers will need to sign the document in order for the transfer of title to be legitimate.

Should You Conduct Title Research?

Before meeting with the seller, it’s always a good idea to do preliminary research on the vehicle title.

Any Colorado attorney will recommend using the National Insurance Crime Bureau website to research the title of a potential used vehicle purchase to protect yourself from fraud. It doesn't happen often, but sometimes sellers 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:

The vehicle having been declared a total loss in an insurance claim
Reports of the vehicle having been stolen

Finalize with Colorado DMV

When the seller is out of the picture and you own the vehicle, you need to finalize the process with the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles (Colorado DMV).

You’ll need to complete the following at your local DMV:

1. Finalizing the transfer of title with the State of Colorado.
2. Registering the car in your name and getting new registration tags
3. Paying taxes and fees
4. Getting new license plates

Transfer the Title in Colorado

After buying a used car in Colorado from a private seller, you’ll need to complete an Application for Certificate of Title, attach it to the title, and submit it to the DMV along with the required documentation and payment.

What is Required to Complete a Title Transfer with Colorado DMV?

Colorado Certificate of Title
Buyers and sellers' signature
A transfer fee of $7.20
Secure and Verifiable Identification
The current title or other ownership documents properly endorsed by the previous owner
Odometer disclosure complete
A bill of sale for sales tax purposes

Submit title transfer documentation within 30 days of purchase to avoid penalty fees.

License Plates and Registration

Different states have different regulations for license plates in private vehicle sales. Some states allow the plates to remain with the vehicle and pass to the buyer. Unfortunately, Colorado is not one of those states. When you buy a used car in Colorado from a private owner, Colorado laws mandate that the seller must remove the license plate from the car.

Colorado fees are based on the type of car and its weight. Additional fees might be collected based on the county of residence and license plates you've selected.

Colorado DMV offers online first-time vehicle registration.

The state of Colorado has 133 different types of licenses. Green license plates are used for standard vehicles, while red places are used for rental and commercial-owned cars.

You’ll need to submit the following:

Title assigned in owner's name or current out-of-state registration
Secure and Verifiable Identification Information
Proof of Colorado Vehicle Emissions (if applicable)
Proof of insurance
Payment for fees

Fill Out a Notice of Transfer and Release Liability

You’re finally ready to fill out the Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability (NRL) and complete your sale. There are a few different ways you can do this. The first, and easiest option is to fill out an NRL online. You can do so by visiting the Colorado DMV’s website and clicking on the button marked “online services”.

The website will then guide you through the process of entering the required information. Once you’re done, you can submit the form online and be done with it forever.

If for some reason, you don’t want to fill out your Notice of Transfer and Release of Liability online, you can also complete the process by submitting a paper form. Your options here include printing out an NRL or going to your local DMV office to pick one up there.

Submit The NRL
If you filled out your NRL online, then you’ll have already completed this step. However, if you’ve chosen to submit a paper form, then you’ll have to either bring it to your local DMV office or mail it to them.

It’s important to be prompt about this. Colorado law gives car sellers five days from the date of sale to submit their NRLs. Not doing so could cause you to incur a fine, and open you up to legal liability. Get your Notice of Transfer and Release Liability submitted within five days from the sale and you won’t have to worry about these issues.

What Fees Are There When Buying A Used Car In Colorado?

The vehicle purchase price never includes the used car sales tax, registration, and title transfer fees, which the buyer will pay on top of the car itself.

Here are additional fees you'll pay beyond the purchase price when buying a used car in Colorado:

Title fee: $7.20
Colorado sales tax: 2.9% on the purchase price of the vehicle
License and registration fees: $4.73 to $118.06

PrivateAuto charges no buyer fees. The buyer is responsible for paying for the vehicle only and has no transaction-related costs on our platform.
Image highlighting Buying Car Privately by PrivateAuto

Purchasing a Used Car in Colorado with PrivateAuto

PrivateAuto makes buying a used car hassle-free. Whether you’re looking for a Ford Maverick, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Jeep Grand Cherokee or a lightly-used Mazda CX5, you’re sure to find a great deal on the ride of your dreams.

We are the only end-to-end vehicle buying platform that gives you everything you need to get the deal done, from making offers to sending payments.

Browse our used cars for sale in Colorado.

The PrivateAuto purchasing process consists of a few simple steps:

Register and get verified on PrivateAuto

To make PrivateAuto a safe place for everyone, we require email, phone, and driver’s license verification, including facial recognition.

Browse the listings

It’s easy to browse listings of used vehicles for sale on PrivateAuto. Filter by make, model, mileage, year, and other criteria to make your search simpler and faster.

Make offers

Make offers on vehicles that catch your eye. It’s up to you whether to accept the seller’s asking price, or to offer a lower price. You can also decide whether to accept ID-verified sellers only.

Schedule a meet-up for a test drive

As the buyer, you will want to test drive the car. No more back-and-forth texts. You never have to give out your phone number. Rather, use our handy scheduling feature to coordinate a time and place for a test drive. (Oh, and you’ll be able to finalize the transaction instantly at the test drive location, FYI.)


After you are satisfied with the car and the two of you have agreed on a purchase price, you can easily e-sign the Bill of Sale within our app, from your phone. With our shared documents feature, you can easily locate the paperwork needed after the sale.

Pay the seller on the spot

Before PrivateAuto, receiving funds was the most stressful part of the entire purchasing process, especially for any used vehicle purchases over $5,000. There just aren’t a lot of good ways to move large amounts of money quickly and conveniently.

Those days are over! Verify and send out the funds instantaneously with PrivateAuto Pay, our innovative banking integration. Guaranteed funds for transactions large and small.

Transfer car title

When purchasing a used vehicle, you must fill out the necessary information on the title transfer document.

Looking to sell your car? Choose PrivateAuto to get the best price and transact easily and safely!

Colorado Car Buying Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of insurance does my newly-bought used car need?

Used cars, just like new cars, are required to have liability auto insurance at a minimum. Every insurance company will have different rates, so shop around.

The Colorado DMV requires you to carry evidence of your auto insurance in your car.

You can consider purchasing collision, comprehensive, and gap insurance for your vehicle, but these are not required in Colorado.

What is a temporary tag?

How to protect yourself when buying a car privately?

Is buying a car privately for cash a good idea?

Who pays for the title transfer fee in Colorado?

Can I drive a used car I just bought in Colorado?

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