Selling a used car in a private sale is relatively easy in all states, including the state of Texas. The Texas DMV requires a valid title, and in some cases, a bill of sale and odometer reading. Before selling any vehicle in the Lone Star State, it must have insurance. A potential buyer may wish to have the vehicle inspected before signing on the dotted line.
Preparing for the Vehicle's Sale
Before placing a “for sale” sign on a vehicle, the seller must make sure the car is insured as required by Texas law. The new buyer has 30 days to insure the vehicle in their name.
Potential buyers typically require a vehicle inspection to make sure the car is in good working order and hasn’t been in any accidents. They can do this in person via a licensed auto mechanic in their area.
The buyer pays for the inspection, but both parties must agree to the location of the inspection and when it will take place. If the inspection uncovers any issues, the seller should keep the vehicle inspection report for their records. The buyer can also get a vehicle history report through a company like Carmax.
Documents Needed to Transfer a Vehicle in Texas
The car’s seller should give the buyer certain documents and information:
- Valid car title with signed and completed title assignment.
- Bill of sale (Texas law does not require this, but it does verify that the sale took place).
- Odometer reading.
The seller should keep copies of everything they give the buyer in case any technical or legal problems arise after the sale.
Getting a Copy of the Vehicle Title From the DMV
If the seller has lost the car title, they’ll need to get a replacement before attempting to sell the car. They can do this by mail or in person through a local Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Regional Service Center office. The Texas DMV refers to a replacement title as Certified Copy of Title.
The seller will submit these documents to a DMV office in their area:
- Complete Certified Copy of Title Application (Form VTR-34).
- Proof the vehicle is fully paid via a release of lien, if applicable.
- Valid driver's license or other state or federal photo identification.
Texas DMV Fees for Vehicle Title Transfer
The seller will also submit a fee for the copy to the DMV:
- In person they’ll pay a fee of $5.45 in cash, check or money order payable to the DMV.
- By mail they’ll pay a fee of $2 in check or money order payable to the DMV. They’ll mail the application to: Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, 1601 Southwest Parkway, Suite A, Wichita Falls, TX 76302
Texas cannot issue a replacement title for any other state.
Odometer Disclosure Requirements in Texas
The federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), updated its odometer disclosure requirements in December 2020, impacting some private vehicle sales in the Lone Star State.
For transfers beginning January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2030, all vehicles starting with the 2011 model year requires an odometer disclosure. Beginning on January 1, 2031, vehicles that are less than 20 model years old will also require an odometer disclosure statement. Car models before 2010 do not need odometer disclosures.
Transferring a Vehicle’s Title in Texas
When transferring ownership, the seller enters the car’s odometer reading on the title, and signs and dates the back of the title. As this is a legal document, it is imperative that the seller writes clearly and avoids errors, which can void the document.
If more than one seller's name is on the vehicle title, and their names are separated by the word “or,” only one person has to sign the title to transfer the car to the new owner.
If owners' names are separated by the words “and” or “and/or,” then all sellers must sign the title. If there’s nothing noted between their names, all sellers must sign. Lien holders must also sign off, or release, the title.
Buyer's Application and Removal of Plates and Registration Sticker
Next, the seller signs the Application for Texas Title and/or Registration (Form 130-U) and enters the sales price. The DMV requires the buyer to title the vehicle in their name within 30 days of the date the seller transfers the vehicle to them.
When selling a vehicle in Texas, the seller must remove and retain the license plates, which they can transfer to another car. They can remove the registration sticker, located inside the windshield, with a razor blade.
Finalizing the Vehicle Sale
The seller should accompany the buyer to their county tax office to file the requisite paperwork. If they do not go with the buyer, they can file a vehicle transfer notification.
The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will update the record showing the vehicle as sold. This ensures that the seller will not be responsible for any tickets or violations the new owner of the vehicle incurs. This is done within 30 days of the vehicle’s date of sale.
Title Transfer if Selling to a Dealership
When selling or trading in a vehicle to a dealership, the vehicle does not need to be titled in the dealerships name – it remains in the seller's name until someone buys it.
In this instance, the seller should file a vehicle transfer notification immediately after the dealership takes possession of the vehicle. The seller should cancel their insurance on the vehicle when the vehicle is sold.
- Auto Trader: How to Sell a Car in Texas
- DMV.org: Bill of Sale Requirements in Texas
- TXDMV: Regional Service Centers
- TXDMV: Application for a Certified Copy of Title
- Auto Trader: There’s a New Rule to Combat Odometer Fraud
- TXDMV: Application for Texas Title and/or Registration
- TX DMV: Get a Copy of Your Vehicle Title
Michelle Nati is an associate editor and writer who has reported on legal, criminal and government news for PasadenaNow.com and Complex Media. She holds a B.A. in Communications and English from Niagara University.