Car Buying and Selling Regulations in Washington

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Buying or selling a vehicle in Washington has been made easier and less risky. The Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) has provided a guide with tips that you can use when buying or selling your car. These helpful tips can help you know how to go about purchasing a car, equip you with enough information on important things to remember and help you know the processes and paperwork required in order to register and title the vehicle.

Watch Out for Curbstoners

Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) warns its residents who conduct business with unlicensed dealers. These dealers are commonly known as curbstoners as they advertise and sell vehicles posing as private sellers. They transact their business from the street curb. The state warns residents to avoid these dealers because their sales are not protected. Notorious curbstoners normally sell salvage vehicles, roll back odometer reading and also do other forms of consumer fraud. If you suspect that you are dealing with a curbstoner, contact the DOL immediately.

Questions to Ask the Seller

If you are purchasing a vehicle from a private seller; you should ask them a number of questions such as:

  • How long has the current owner had it?
  • What kind of operation has the car been used for?
  • What was the mileage the last time it was sold?
  • Why are they selling?
  • Has the vehicle been involved in an accident and was it repaired?
  • Is the title valid and up-to-date?
  • Are there parts or functions that need repair?

The DOL also recommends that you check the mechanical and computer systems before you purchase it. Other things to check include:

  • Doors and windows.
  • Seatbelts.
  • Lights, reverse lights, including signals, brake lights, and headlights.
  • Brakes.
  • Radiator and cooling system.
  • Oil.

How to Transfer the Title

You will need the following to transfer the title to your name:

  • Title with the previous owner's release signature.
  • Completed Odometer Disclosure Statement. This form must be signed by both the seller and buyer. You this form from your local DOL Vehicle Licensing Office.
  • Bill of sale.
  • Emissions certificate.

If the title is missing, you may be required to submit Form TD-420-040 (Affidavit of Loss/Release of Interest) signed in the presence of a county auditor or a notary public. You have to transfer the title within 15 days from the purchase date or face a fine of up to $125.

Buying or Selling a Car without a Title

A title is imperative. If it is missing, ask the seller to apply for a duplicate copy and assign it to you during the time of sale. Otherwise, you will need to visit a vehicle licensing office to register and title a vehicle whose title is missing. You will be required to complete and submit an Affidavit in Lieu of Title form. Be sure to take with you proof of vehicle ownership.

Buying or Selling a Car without Registration

Selling without registration papers is not an issue. You don’t need these papers in order to register and title your newly purchased vehicle. All that you need is the above mentioned documents.