My brother once sold a used motorcycle. Years later, it turned out the buyer had never registered/titled it, and my brother was responsible for the abandoned vehicle costs.

I now want to sell an older (but quite functional) used car. The process is that the seller signs over the title, and the buyer provides that to DMV when the car is registered. So, as in my brother's case, if the buyer skips that step, it seems like the seller is exposed. I have no idea how often that occurs, but I do see a fair number of cars with just one plate (state requires two), which makes me wonder.

Is there anything the seller can do to protect themselves, short of doing the transaction in the DMV parking lot? Is a bill of sale signed by the buyer sufficient?

(If it needs saying I would remove the windshield registration sticker and the plates.)


1 Answer 1


There is a form, which both parties to the sale sign. Note that it does entail paying sales tax. There are other aspects to the sale which reinforce the "It's not my car anymore" message, such as returning the plates and getting a receipt for the plates. Even doing the sale in a DMV lot would not help you.

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