Buying a Used Car From a Private Seller in New York

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

Oh, and, by the way: PrivateAuto has private-party used vehicles for sale in New York and also provides an end-to-end platform to get the deal done, from secure messaging with sellers to instantaneous payment transfers.
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What is the Process of Buying a Used Car in New York?

In New York, 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 vehicle in your name and pay sales taxes and fees
8. Get new license plates

Let’s look at the process in more detail.

Find a Vehicle to Buy

Whether you’re looking for an inexpensive car or a barely-used luxury car, you’re better off purchasing from a private seller than from a New York used car dealer. Dealerships need to buy low and sell high to make a profit. Better to cut out the middleman.

PrivateAuto has a big selection of used cars for sale in New York City, Albany, Oswego, and elsewhere across the state of New York. We offer security and convenience features no other competitor has, from in-app test drive scheduling to instantaneous funds transfer of any amount.

Speaking of test drives…

Take the Car for a Test Drive

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

Organize a Meetup

Our competitors leave you to organize a meetup with the seller by exchanging personal info and having a lot of back-and-forth. 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 Vehicle 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.

By choosing a premium listing you will be able to see if the car has:

Lien holders on the tile
Branded title (total loss, fire/flood damage, rebuilt from salvage)
Maintenance records
Accidents reported

Mechanical Inspection (Optional)

Before purchasing the car, you may want to do a mechanical inspection on it. This is at your discretion, and is more advisable for higher-mileage cars. Depending on your skill level, you can inspect it yourself at the time of the test drive. Or, you can coordinate with the seller to have it inspected by a qualified NY 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 car inspection, you’ll be adding at least a couple extra days onto the closing process.

Gather All the Required Paperwork

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

Vehicle Title

Both you and the seller will fill out the Certificate of Title thoroughly. Required information includes the following:
An odometer disclosure statement (for cars less than 10 years old)
Signature (completed after payment)

Odometer Reading Statement

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

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

You can verify the accuracy of the odometer reading the seller enters on the title by looking at the odometer yourself. Note that there are severe penalties for sellers tampering with vehicle odometers in order to provide inaccurate readings.

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

Bill of Sale in NY

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

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

The entire transaction, including the bill of sale, can be completed in minutes when you meet for the test drive and approve of the vehicle. It’s so fast and convenient you won’t believe it. And then, you’ll always have the electronic bill of sale accessible in your PrivateAuto account to prove that the transaction was legitimate.

Vehicle Identification Verification

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

In the state of NY, only DMV officers can perform a VIN check on your car.

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

Emission and Smog Certificate

Emission and smog certificates are one of the documents needed in New York that most other states don't require. Most vehicles in New York require smog inspections before registering.

Vehicles that don’t require smog testing are:
Cars less than two model years old 2
Cars more than 25 model years old 3
Diesel-powered vehicles that are model year 1996 or older
Electric-powered vehicles
Vehicles that have historical license plates

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

If your car fails the test, you will be granted a 10-day extension.

For precise locations of smog check stations visit the New York DMV website.

Time to Pay the Seller

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

Introducing PrivateAuto Pay

Our integrated banking gateway, PrivateAuto Pay, allows you to instantaneously send any amount. The seller will get the funds in a matter of seconds, whether after hours, on weekends, or during a national holiday. We charge no payment processing fee. It’s truly revolutionary.

So, if you don’t like the idea of lugging 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 car 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 auto payment calculator will tell you.

New York Title Transfer

The key component of the entire transaction is transferring a New York car title from seller to buyer. When the seller signs the title and hands it to you, the vehicle 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 new york 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 title transfer 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 New York attorney will recommend using the National Insurance Crime Bureau website to research the title of a potential used car purchase to protect yourself from fraud. It’s rare, but sometimes sellers will attempt to mislead or outright deceive. For example, they may try to pass off a salvage title as a clean title.

Good title research will help you check for:

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

Finalize with NY DMV

The seller is out of the picture and you own the vehicle. Now you need to finalize the process with the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (New York DMV).

You’ll need to complete the following at your local DMV:
1. Finalizing the transfer of title with the State of New York
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 New York

After buying a used car in New York 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 New York DMV?
New York Certificate of Title
Buyers and sellers signature
Complete a vehicle title application (Form MV-82)
Complete a statement of transaction (Form DTF-802)
A transfer fee of $50
In the state of New York, vehicle title transfer can only be done in person at your local DMV.

License Plates and Vehicle Registration

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

When registering your car for the first time you must pay a $25 plate fee, the sales tax of your jurisdiction as well as the $50 title certificate fee

You will need to submit the following:

Proof of ownership
Valid ID or driver's license
Proof of NY automobile liability insurance
Proof of payment for fees and taxes

What Fees Are There When Buying A Used Car In New York?

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 New York:

The sales tax
A vehicle plate fee or registration transfer fee
A title certificate fee
A vehicle use tax (in most counties)
Either a 1- or 2-year registration fee (depending on the type of registration)
PrivateAuto charges no buyer fees. The buyer is responsible for paying for the vehicle only and has no transaction-related costs on our platform.

Buying a Used Car in New York With PrivateAuto

PrivateAuto makes buying a used car hassle-free. Whether you’re looking for a Chevy Equinox, Jeep Wrangler, Toyota RAV4, or Dodge RAM 1500, 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 New York.

The PrivateAuto purchasing process consists of a few simple steps:

Register on PrivateAuto and get verified

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

Look for your dream car

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 an Offer

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.

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 the test drives. (Oh, and you’ll be able to finalize the transaction instantly at the test drive location, FYI.)

Acquire and fill out the paperwork

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

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 vehicle 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!

New York Car Buying FAQ

What kind of insurance does a 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 New York 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 New York.

What is a temporary tag?

How to protect yourself when buying a car privately?

Who pays for the title transfer fee in New York?

Is buying a car privately for cash a good idea?