Selling a Used Car in Washington

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You need to sell your car, truck or SUV privately to put cash in your pocket, but you do not want to mess it up. Finding a buyer can be difficult without help and getting the price you want complicates things further.

Once you find a buyer who will pay your price, completing your car sale should be easy, right? You sign over the title, hand over it and the keys, and they give you the money. In reality, the process is a little more complicated than that. Each state has its own rules and regulations. So if you are selling a car in Washington State, you need to follow that state’s law. Fortunately, the Washington State government site gives detailed information on the entire sales process.

Remove Vehicle License Plates

Remove your license plates before the new owner takes possession, even if the vehicle is not your primary one. Leaving the plates on even for a day or two exposes you to possible traffic fines, towing costs, Good to Go! Tickets, etc. that should be the responsibility of the new owners. Plus, they will be highly motivated to take care of transferring ownership into their names if they have to supply the plates immediately. Don't complicate things - remove your license plates promptly.
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Report the Sale

Washington State requires you to file a sales report when you sell, surrender ownership or donate certain vehicles such as cars, trucks, travel trailers, motorcycles. This step isn’t just an annoying formality. It removes your liability for civil and criminal liabilities incurred by the new owners. Also, this move also pressures the new owners to complete the transfer of ownership.

These are the situations that call for a sales report:

Selling your vehicle privately, out-of-state or on consignment
Trading your vehicle to a dealer or a private party
Giving your vehicle as a gift to someone
Donating your vehicle to a charity
Giving your vehicle to a wrecking yard
Turning your vehicle over to an insurance company
Disposing of your vehicle

The state does not require you to report boat sales. But in any other vehicle sales situation, you would be wise to check the state website for the rules. That way, you will avoid potential hassles and possible fines.

Collect Your Vital Information

Many sales have been delayed because the buyers and sellers did not have all the information they needed on hand. You’ll speed the process if you have the following with you:

Your complete license plate number
The sale price - in the case of a gift or inheritance, use a zero.
The VIN (Vehicle ID number)- This identifying number is usually found on the left front of the dashboard behind the steering wheel. Sometimes, it may be in an alternative area.

The state recommends double-checking all this information before you file your report to avoid a trip to a licensing location to correct any errors and file a new report.

How and When to File Your Report

You only have five days to file your report before the transaction exposes you to criminal and financial liabilities incurred by the new owner, so do not delay. The filing fee is $13.25, and you can file your report online. If you prefer, you can download the report and mail it to a vehicle licensing location or visit one in person and do the paperwork there.

If for some reason the sale falls through after you file the report, visit a vehicle licensing location and have it deleted as soon as possible.

Update Your Tolling Pass

This step is easy to forget. Be sure to update your Good to Go! Pass to avoid any confusion and prevent paying the new owner’s fines.

Transferring the Title

The buyer must transfer the title. This step is not your responsibility, but you should know what is involved. The buyer must complete the following for a private vehicle sale or vehicle gift within 15 days to avoid a fine.

The buyer must have a current title with your signature on it to release ownership.
They must have a bill of sale that states the purchase price or have a statement of gift signed by you.
The buyer also needs a completed Vehicle Title Application.
If the vehicle is 10 years old or under, the buyer needs a completed Odometer Disclosure form.
Certain fees apply.

Washington State allows title transfers by mail or in person at a license location.

Why a Washington Private Car Sale is Better

You can typically get a higher price for your car in the private market than they do from a Washington dealership trade-in. That’s because dealerships need to make a spread: they buy low and sell high.

Unfortunately, selling your vehicle on the private market has always been a cumbersome process, in Washington and throughout the US. Until now.

How PrivateAuto Helps You Sell Your Car in Washington

Washington private car sellers love PrivateAuto because we make the process of selling your car so simple.
Full banking integration for instant money transfers, 24/7/365
Verified buyer funds presale so you don’t waste your time
Makes selling a vehicle (and getting paid) quick, easy, and secure
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Selling your Car on PrivateAuto: the Process

Here’s how the PrivateAuto selling process works:

1. You register on PrivateAuto and we verify you
2. You list your car model with our easy step-by-step guided process
3. You set your terms and screen would-be buyers
4. You vet incoming offers and choose a buyer
5. You and the buyer e-sign documents from your PrivateAuto phone app
6. You get paid, instantaneously

So easy.

Are you interested in buying a car in Washington instead? Look through our used cars for sale.

Selling a Car in Washington FAQ

What paperwork do I need to sell my car privately in Washington?

Every state has its own documentation requirements for selling a used car. Luckily for you, PrivateAuto helps you keep track of all needed paperwork requirements with our step-by-step in-app process.

You will need the following paperwork to sell your car in Washington:

- Warranty documents
- Service documents
- Bill of sale
- Car title and registration documents
- Vehicle identification number
- Car insurance documents

PrivateAuto guides you through the selling process, so you never risk forgetting about a document you need to make the sale.

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