Wisconsin DMV tips for selling a car

Spring and fall are popular times for owners to sell their vehicles privately. Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) recommends sellers know what the law requires to avoid problems between parties.

DMV’s online resources show the proper way to sell a vehicle and include links to required DMV forms.

“Online postings and word of mouth are common, convenient ways people sell their vehicles, but there are risks to buyers who don’t purchase from licensed dealers,” says Michael Domke, DMV Dealer and Agent section chief. “Dealers perform safety checks, disclose problems and ensure the title is clear for each vehicle they offer for sale. Buying from a private party may not give you the same protections.”

Selling a vehicle privately is not complicated but the seller should be aware of a number of laws to follow. For example, the vehicle must be titled in the seller’s name and all loans should be paid off before the sale.

Once the vehicle is sold, Wisconsin and federal law require the following:

• Record the sale. A recent state law (January 2016) says anyone who sells a vehicle from one individual to another individual must register the transfer of ownership within 30 days of the sale. DMV added Seller Notify to its online resources so sellers can conveniently record the sale. Sellers may also print, email or save the confirmation for their records.

• Fill in the vehicle odometer mileage statement on the title.

• Complete the brand disclosure area on the title (if applicable).

• If there is a lien listed on the title, provide the buyer with a lien release document from your lien holder; the buyer will need both documents to get a title.

• Remove the license plates from the vehicle.

Upon completion of a private sale, DMV’s expanding online services enable the vehicle buyer to title and register the new vehicle, in most cases without having to visit a local DMV customer service center.

If applying for new license plates online, the buyer can print the temporary license plate at home and display it until the metal license plates arrive in the mail.

The online instruction page, Frequently Asked Questions, glossary and email support are also available at the wisconsindmv.gov website.


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