What should I do before buying a vehicle from an individual?

Agency: State

  • Test-drive the vehicle and have it inspected by a mechanic.
  • Check the odometer's mileage accuracy. The mileage for most vehicles must be provided when ownership changes. Vehicles older than 10 years are exempt.
  • Make sure the vehicle has a valid title and that the owner named on the front of the title is the same person signing it over to you.
  • Match the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the title with the number on the vehicle's dashboard. The VIN should be visible through the windshield.
  • Check the title to be sure that there are no liens (such as bank loans) against the vehicle. If there is a lien, it must be released by the lienholder in the appropriate signature space or by attaching a lien termination statement from the financial institution to the title.
  • Never take possession of a vehicle without the title signed by the owner or owners named on the front of the title. If more than one person is buying the vehicle, you all need to sign the new title application.
  • If possible, the buyer and seller should go together to a Secretary of State office to complete the title transfer. The transfer must be filed with the Secretary of State within 15 days from the date of the sale to avoid a late fee. Unless exempt, tax is due when you apply for the title.




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