Buying a Used Car from a Private Seller in West Virginia

If you’re looking to buy a private-party used car, you’re smart. Dealerships charge fees and markups, which you can avoid when you buy directly from an individual. Let’s walk through the entire transaction process for the state of West Virginia.
When you purchase a car from a private seller, there are more details to manage. Luckily, PrivateAuto makes the process much easier. Keep reading to see the steps you’ll need to take—and how PrivateAuto helps.

Is Buying from a Dealer Better than Buying from a Private Seller?

Dealerships offer convenience, while private sales offer better value.

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

1. Avoid fees. Car dealers charge documentation fees that range from $50 to over $1,000.
2. 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.
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 sales tax. For example, Arizona, Hawaii, and Nevada charge sales taxes on retail (dealership) auto 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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Steps to Buying a Used Car in West Virginia

You’ll go through the following sequence when you a used car from a private seller in West Virginia:

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 license plate

Let’s go over this process in more detail.

Find a Car

You want to find the best car for your budget. 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.

Here are your options for finding the best private-party used car for you:

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

While these can be great resources for finding that perfect Range Rover, they fall short when it comes time for the transaction. That’s why we call them “meetingplaces” instead of true marketplaces.

We are the only 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, shop our used vehicles for sale and get the process started.

We don’t hate other listing sites. Some of them have more private-party car inventory than we do (we’re still new and gaining traction). But we still want you to have the transactional security and convenience that our users enjoy.

That’s why we created DealNow, a fast-track dealflow that allows you to start a deal on another platform and finish it with our transactional infrastructure.

Get your deal started now!

Negotiate the Price

You want to get the very best vehicle for your budget. Other sites don't make negotiation easy. You can either accept the listed price or move on.

PrivateAuto lets you make an offer with the click of a button. The seller can then accept, reject, or counteroffer. No awkward messaging back and forth.

Do Some Research on the Car

It's always a smart idea to do some preliminary due diligence on the car you're getting about the car you’re getting. The two best ways to learn about a vehicle’s background are vehicle history reports and car title research.

Get a Vehicle History Report

A vehicle history report covers ownership history and maintenance records, and shows how well the seller cared for their car.

We include a vehicle history report for all premium listings.

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

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.

Research the Title

Before meeting up with the seller, it’s always good to do preliminary research on the car title.
You can use the National Insurance Crime Bureau website to research the title of a vehicle 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 following:

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).

Simply 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.

Test Drive

Unless you’re buying a car long-distance, you’re going to want to test-drive it in person. 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 selected. No back-and-forth conversations. You'll also see the seller's preferred meetup location.
2. You can also choose to deal only with verified sellers, which helps to weed out bad actors who prefer to operate in the shadows.


You’ve done the test drive and you’re ready to buy. It’s time to handle the paperwork.

Here are the key documents involved in a private-party vehicle transaction in the state of West Virginia.

1. Title certificate
2. Bill of sale

West Virginia Certificate of Title

A West Virginia title has the following fields that need to be filled out for the sale to be legitimate:

Odometer disclosure statement that lists the current mileage
Seller’s hand-printed name, signature, and address (if there is more than one seller listed on the title, all sellers will need to sign)
Date of sale
Purchase price
Your hand-printed name and signature
The signature of the lien holder, if there’s a current loan on the car

West Virginia Bill of Sale

West Virginia requires you to complete a bill of sale in the presence of the notary public, when you buy a used car in the state. A bill of sale 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.

PrivateAuto streamlines the bill of sale by having both parties electronically sign an official West Virginia bill of sale in our mobile app printing or scanning is needed. Everything is stored in your PrivateAuto account as a reference, should you ever need it.

Pay for the Car

When it’s time to pay the seller for their car, there aren’t a lot of great options—or haven’t been until now. Cash is risky and inconvenient, 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 PrivateAuto Pay. Here’s how it works:

1. No transfer fees.
2. No exchange of contact or banking info.
3. Works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. No coordinating around banker’s hours.
4. Instantaneous transfers. Close the deal when you meet for the test drive.
5. Enjoy escrow-like safeguards without the expense and hassle of an actual escrow service.

You’ll never want to buy a car any other way.
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West Virginia Vehicle Title Transfer and Registration

After the seller signs the title over to you, you’ll go to the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) 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 West Virginia 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 owner
A completed Application for Certificate of Title (Form DMV-1-TR)
A notarized bill of sale
Lien information (if applicable)
Payment for the West Virginia sales tax: 6% of vehicle purchase price
Payment for West Virginia’s vehicle title transfer fee: $15
Payment for West Virginia vehicle registration fees: $51.50
Payment for any municipal fees that apply based on location
Valid driver's license
Proof of insurance coverage—your insurance company can provide

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

West Virginia Vehicle FAQ

Does West Virginia have a sales tax on cars?

West Virginia sales tax is 6% of the vehicle purchase price. Unlike many other states, West Virginia doesn’t have local sales taxes; 6% is the most you'll pay.

Does a West Virginia title need to be notarized?

How much is a standard license plate in West Virginia?

What is the DMV-5-TR form used for?

How much is the West Virginia biennial registration fee?

Does West Virginia require emissions testing?

How can I request a duplicate vehicle title in West Virginia?

How much is a West Virginia duplicate license plate?