Buying a Used Car from a Private Seller in Maine

Get a better deal when you buy your next car by going directly to a private seller. Plus, you’ll avoid those pesky dealer fees. There are a couple of things you'll need to know about the process in the Pine Tree State.
PrivateAuto streamlines the private-party vehicle buying experience and makes it safe and enjoyable. Keep reading to see how to buy your dream car in Maine, and how we make what could be a daunting task simple and safe.

Should I Buy from a Dealer or a Private Seller?

When considering whether to purchase from a dealer or a private seller, the traditional view is that dealerships offer convenience, while private sellers provide better value.

At PrivateAuto, we strongly advocate for the private seller option due to several advantages:

1. Get a better price by cutting out the middleman and going straight to the source. Dealers must buy low and sell high to make a profit 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.

While it’s true that dealerships traditionally offer more convenience, we’re all about making the private-party car buying experience frictionless and safe. Our transactional marketplace gives you all the tools to drive the deal on your terms.
Image highlighting Buying/Selling Car Privately by PrivateAuto

Find a Car that Fits Your Budget

Most likely, you’ll be shopping for private-party used cars online, which means you’ll be using one of the many websites dedicated to this purpose. After defining your car needs and budget, it’s time to start searching.

Start Searching

When it comes to finding a car online, here are your options:

Auction websites such as Bring a Trailer and eBay Motors.
Social media listings.
Online classifieds
National classifieds such as Craigslist and OfferUp.
Local classifieds such as KSL Cars or Autolist.
Vehicle listing sites such as Autotrader.

While these platforms serve as excellent resources for finding desired vehicles, they often lack transactional capabilities. We call them "meetingplaces" because they don’t deliver the transactionality that we think a marketplace should.

PrivateAuto, on the other hand, stands out as the world’s first and only fully transactional marketplace, offering self-service technological solutions for every stage of the deal. To experience the hassle-free simplicity of purchasing privately, explore our range of used cars for sale and begin your car-buying journey.

Even though PrivateAuto is the best place to buy a car online, we don’t hate other listing sites. Some 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 a fast-track solution called DealNow. It allows you to create a personal dealroom on PrivateAuto, invite the owner of the car you want to buy, and get the deal done quickly and securely.

Get your deal started now!

Negotiate Price

You want to get the very best car for your budget. PrivateAuto allows you to make offers on cars you like. You never know if the vehicle’s owner will accept less than their asking price until you try.

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

A savvy buyer will try to find out as much as they can about the car they’re getting. The two best ways to learn about a vehicle’s background are:

1. Research on the car’s title
2. Get a vehicle history report

Research the Vehicle Title

Before meeting up for the test drive, it’s smart to do preliminary research on the car title.
You can use the National Insurance Crime Bureau website to research the title to protect yourself from car-buying fraud.

In some cases sellers will attempt to mislead or outright deceive—they may try to pass off a salvage title as clean.

Title research will help you check for:

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

Ask the seller for their full name and the vehicle identification number (VIN) in advance of meeting up. Run the title check, and you’ll have one less worry on your mind.

Get a Vehicle History Report

A vehicle history report is a smart idea when buying a used car. It covers ownership history and maintenance records and shows you how well the seller cared for their car.

PrivateAuto provides a vehicle history report for all premium listings.

Here are some reasons a vehicle history report gives you peace of mind.

1. You have visibility into any accidents or insurance claims.
2. You know how well the car has been cared for.
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 and help steer you away from car-buying scams.

Meet Up For the Test Drive

One of the best things about PrivateAuto is that we let 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.

You’ll schedule the test drive in seconds without ever needing to contact the seller. It’s just one of the many ways we streamline private car purchases.

Complete Maine Paperwork

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

1. Vehicle title
2. Bill of sale
3. Emissions testing

Maine Certificate of Title

You and the seller need to fill out the official Maine Certificate of Title. A Maine title will require you and the seller to complete the following information at the time of the private 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

Maine Bill of Sale

Maine requires a bill of sale. 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 Maine bill of sale 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—simply sign electronically in the PrivateAuto mobile app. It’s stored in your PrivateAuto account as a reference, should you ever need it.

Maine Emissions Testing

The state of Maine requires smog checks for specific types of vehicles.

Maine Smog Check Requirements

If your car falls into one of the following categories, it must pass a smog check:

Vehicles registered for the first time.
Vehicles with a Maine smog check sticker about to expire.
Vehicles for which Maine law enforcement orders a smog check.

Maine Smog Check Exemptions

Cars in Cumberland County that fall into one of the following categories are exempt from passing a vehicle emissions test:

Maine-registered antique vehicles
Vehicles that are driven 1,000 miles or less
Island vehicles
Low-speed vehicles
Experimental vehicles
1996 Subarus (all models)
1996-1998 Mitsubishis (all models)
1996 Volvo 850 Turbo
1996 Chrysler Avenger/Sebring/Talan, Cirrus/Stratus/Breeze, Intrepid/Concord/New Yorker/LHS/Vision, Neon
Ford medium and heavy-duty trucks made between 1996-2003 and weighing more than 8,600 pounds

In the state of Maine, neither extensions nor exemptions are permitted.

Cars made in 1995 and earlier have a smog check fee of $15.50. Cars made in 1996 or later have a smog check fee of $18.50.

Pay For the Car

Before we created PrivateAuto Pay, there weren’t any great ways to pay the seller. Cash is inconvenient and risky, PayPal has fees, Venmo and Zelle have low transfer limits, and checks and wire transfers are slow and cumbersome.

We got tired of the limitations associated with existing payment methods, so we created PrivateAuto Pay.

Here’s how it works:

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

You’ll never want to buy a car any other way. Even if you’re buying a car on a different platform, you can just invite the seller to DealNow and enjoy all the same benefits.
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Maine Title Transfer and Registration

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

Here’s what you’ll need to provide when you transfer your car’s title at your local BMV branch office:

The Certificate of Title, signed over to you by the previous vehicle owner
A completed Application for Title (only available in person)
Lien information (if applicable)
Payment for the Maine vehicle sales tax: 5.5% of the vehicle price
Payment for Maine’s vehicle title transfer fee: $33
Payment for Maine passenger vehicle registration fee: from $35 to $55
Valid vehicle inspection sticker
Valid ID or driver's license
Proof of insurance

Read our complete guide to a Maine title transfer for more info on the subject.

Maine Vehicle FAQ

How to transfer a car title when the owner is deceased?

If you want to keep a vehicle once the owner passes away and you’re the surviving spouse or personal representative, you need to transfer the vehicle’s title.

To transfer the car title of a person who has died in Maine, you will need the following documents:

- Original title certificate
- Order from Probate Court to transfer Maine car title
- Odometer information sheet
- Death certificate
- Payment for the title transfer fee

How long is the registration process in Maine?

How do I calculate Maine sales tax?

What is the penalty for sales tax in Maine?

Is there a lemon law for used cars in Maine?

How much are vanity plates in Maine?