How To Sell A Car In Texas

In Texas, when you sell a car you must provide the buyer with the current title with the odometer reading, and complete the Application for Texas Certificate of Title to transfer ownership.

How To Sell A Car In Texas

Selling a car in Texas is easier than you think if you're willing to do a little homework. Like anywhere else it takes preparation, planning and due diligence, so before you post it on used car sites or classifieds, be sure to do your research and be detailed and honest with the condition of your car.

Paperwork For Selling A Car In Texas

First of all, you need to get your paperwork in order. In Texas, that means:

On your title, make sure you complete the odometer reading and include the accurate mileage of the vehicle on the certificate, because committing odometer fraud is a thing.

Complete the Texas Certificate of Title

Other than your vehicle title, the state of Texas also requires you to sign an Application for Texas Certificate of Title (Form 130-U), remember to include the final sale price on the form. This form is like a bill of sale but also offers some more pertinent information related to tax purposes.

You should notify the DMV when you sell your car because, if you sell it without a title and the new owner gets into trouble you as the last titleholder will be responsible. In that circumstance, it's best to acquire a title prior to selling.

What If You Need A Duplicate Title?

In Texas, the process of getting a duplicate title doesn't require a lot of time, or effort or money.

If you'd prefer to go to the DMV, it'll cost $5.45. The added bonus on applying by mail? Never step foot into the DMV.

As processes go, this one is especially nice if you hate going to the DMV. This entire thing can be accomplished by mail and the costs are relatively low.

Vehicle History and Service Records

While the DMV paperwork is simple, but that doesn't mean the work is done. Buyers most likely will want to see things like service records and want to know more about the car they're about to sink a chunk of money into.

Keep your service records around for prospective buyers so they can see the vehicle's history and they can know what's been fixed on the car. This also helps for any recalls the car may have had.

Instead of causing the buyer the inconvenience of having to check the VIN for recalls, they can see it in your service records. This helps their confidence, as they'll know the car is at least up to factory standards.

What to Keep Track of When You Sell Your Car
  • Keep a copy of the buyer's information, like their full name and a way to contact them.
  • Keep a record of the price at which you sold the car, and when you sold it.
  • Keep the vehicle's information around, primarily the VIN. Virtually everything you need to know about the car can be determined from the VIN

While it isn't required, the DMV also suggests that you as the seller should notify them (the DMV) of the transfer.

Some Other Things To Be Aware Of
  • Texas DMV collects color information when completing a vehicle title application
  • Processing a title takes around 20 business days
  • Texas DMV will correct any errors that were made on the title while filling it out at no charge
  • Texas DMV will charge a 6.2% tax on the car when it's titled, based on whichever price is higher between how much the car is worth vs. how much it sold for.
Clean it up and take pictures

Clean your car as much as you can:

  • Get the trash out
  • Fish coins out from underneath your carpets and seats
  • Scrub the dirt out of cup holders
  • Wax the exterior
  • Clean the wipers
  • Polish the headlights

Once that’s all done the car is ready for pictures, so take good ones highlighting the car’s strengths and weaknesses. Take pictures of your shiny engine bay, but also take pictures of dents and scratches.

You want to be completely honest in the pictures because a lot of times people will consider buying cars based on those alone. If they get to meet you and see your car without knowing about the exterior damage they are likely to walk away on the spot.

Try to get things fixed that don’t cost too much. Get an alignment, new tires (if below 50% tread), and fix little things like burnt out lamps and broken pieces of interior trim. These small things will go a long way to help you sell your car at a better price.

Set a fair price for your car

Next, you need to hop on one of the many tools available through KBB or Edmunds, and Cargurus to find your used car’s proper value.

When on KBB be sure to choose the price related to a private party value, since you’re privately selling your used car (if you are). Condition matters here, so be honest with the condition of your car. That means mileage, exterior damage, and options. Cargurus will give you a good indication of what your car is going for in your specific market as well.

List your car online

Depending on where you live, certain websites might work better than others.

  • Autotrader provides a professional platform but costs at least $25 to post, and if you're willing to spend more they will grant more exposure
  • Craigslist is completely free but not regulated so you have to filter out spammers from actual buyers
  • Cars.com is another alternative, and it is cheaper to less than Autotrader
  • Instamotor is also an option that is completely free. We also provide a vehicle history with every listing at no charge.

Each of these venues might produce different results and all have their own strengths and weaknesses, so it’s important to learn what each one offers and how it can best be used in your favor.

Preparing for the Sale
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Negotiating with the Buyer

Buyers will want to try and save some money, which is only natural and you should understand that. Be flexible. An “or best offer” does wonders, because it lets buyers know you’re not an unreasonable person and they might be more open to you and negotiating for your car.

Be sure to stay realistic with this. If they offer you something that’s way lower than your asking price but is the market value, try to be understanding and negotiate with them.

A good practice is to use a site like KBB or Edmunds to find out the trade-in value, which will give you an idea of what a dealership will pay for your car, and it’ll act as a good foundation for negotiations.

The Transaction

As you're finally ready for the transaction, be sure to arrange to meet in a public place, preferably someplace where there's plenty of foot traffic and you can get help if things turn sour. Bring someone along, either friend or family, and be clear with how you want to accept payment ahead of time.

Don't accept a payment plan (you're not a bank). Accept cold hard cash on the spot, or if they have a cashier’s check, meet at the issuing bank so they can be there when you cash it.

If you're selling a car privately in Texas, it might take some effort, but it'll also give you full control over the entire process and it’s more likely to net you more money in the end than trading it into a dealership.

The Instamotor TeamThe Instamotor Team

Not your typical used car salesman. Our team is here to provide honest and transparent advice about car buying and selling.