It can be an exciting moment when you actually find a buyer for your car. After all, you'll likely have gone through quite a few interested parties before you land on one that's willing to pony up the cash. And while it's acceptable to feel a bit relieved at having found a buyer, now isn't the time to relax. In fact, you still have some more work to do before you completely close the deal.
Before selling the car at all, you should have the vehicle run through a smog check if your state requires it. Some states make you do this before signing the car title over, so look into it.
The first thing you need to do is get payment for the vehicle. Otherwise, how do you know the buyer is serious about purchasing your car? Cash is acceptable for transactions below $2000, but those that exceed this should be paid for using a cashier's check. This way, there is a solid record of the transaction for both parties to keep track of. And really, don't hand over the car or the pink slip until you have the money in hand. That means if you're given a check as payment, cash it first and make sure it clears before signing over the title.
As the last section suggests, you also need to sign over the title of your car to the buyer so that they become the new owner in the eyes of the law. Once you've received payment, give the buyer a bill of sale and/or the pink slip. They can then take these documents to the DMV and get a new registration of the vehicle and a new title.
Additionally, you don't want to be held responsible for the car you've just sold in that crucial in between period after they've paid up and you've handed over the keys. To be safe, jot down the reading on the odometer before you sign over the title and sign a liability release form. You can usually get these from your local DMV vehicle registry website. This way, you won't be held responsible if the buyer gets into an accident before the car is officially signed over to their name. The last thing you'd want to have to do is be held responsible for an accident you weren't in!
In some states, you'll need to remove your license plate before giving the car over to the new owner, too, so be sure to check on your state's rules. And take the car off of your insurance plan at your earliest convenience.
Finally, check through your car one last time to make sure none of your belongings are in there. Scour through the glove compartment, CD player, behind and under seats, in pockets, and in the trunk.
That's it! Follow these steps and you'll close the deal fast and efficiently.