Car Buying and Selling State Regulations in Alabama

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In the state of Alabama, buying and selling a vehicle is an easy thing if you do your homework well.

Buying a Car

The state enacted the Lemon Law to protect car consumers from defective cars. This law protects vehicles that come with a warranty and do not operate as expected. When you purchase a used car in Alabama, you will need to apply for a title, transfer registration to your name and pay applicable fees and taxes. You should take the following information to the nearest tag office in your county:

  • Bill of Sale.
  • The original title signed over to your name on the back.
  • Applicable fees and taxes.

The title fee is $15. The license fee, ad valorem and sale tax fees vary depending of the county of residence. If you are transferring your title, the fee is $1.25

A few tips for buying a car

  • Do your homework well. Determine which type of car fits your budget and lifestyle. Do some research on consumer guides, forums and comparison guides to get more information about the car that you intend to purchase.
  • Test drive the car before purchase. You will want to check whether the car is comfortable. To do so, you will need to check the head space and the leg room while driving it.
  • Check on insurance rates for the car that you are purchasing. Insurance rates depend on the make, model, body type and year of the vehicle. Some vehicles attract higher insurance rates and this can be costly in the long run.
  • The next step is to get the vehicle history report for that car. This report provides a detailed history of car accidents, registration details, damages and repair history, odometer reading and other crucial information.
  • Hire a qualified mechanic to inspect the vehicle before purchase. Some vehicles have hidden problems that can’t be examined by just the look.
  • Negotiate the best price for that vehicle. If you are new in the vehicle industry, you may be fooled into paying more than you should. Armed with information from price comparison sites or guides, quote a price that is lower than the asking price. You will then negotiate upwards until you reach a compromise price.

After purchasing your car, you must register it within 20 days from the purchase date. However, you must apply for a title before registering the vehicle.


When selling your vehicle, you need to provide the buyer with a bill of sale and original title signed over to the buyer at the back. You also need to retain a copy of the same paperwork for your records. It is advised to accept only certified check from buyers. This will ensure that the check is valid. If you must accept cash, ensure that the buyer sign in the vehicle purchase receipt. It is advised not to accept personal checks. You must also provide the buyer with other additional paperwork associated with the vehicle if they request them.

Tips for selling your car

  • Determine the best price for your vehicle. There are several ways to do this, but the most common one in Alabama is the Kelly Blue Book. This enables you to print out the current market value for the vehicle you are selling. You may show this value to your potential buyers when negotiating the fair price for your vehicle.
  • You may also choose to advertise the vehicle in your local guides, online or in your local newspaper.
  • Make sure your car is thoroughly cleaned up. It is also advised to take it for repair before selling it.
  • Remove the license plates from the car. The new owner will have to apply for new license plates.

Titles and Registrations

The law requires sellers in Alabama to have a clean title for the vehicle they are selling. It is against the law if you are caught selling a car without a clean title or valid registration. So, if you are a buyer in Alabama, beware of sellers who knowingly attempt to sell cars with fake, stolen, or expired paperwork.