Buying a used car from a private seller is always the convenient way of saving money; however it comes with some risks. You need to protect yourself from risky vehicles by test-driving the vehicle and hiring a certified mechanic to inspect the vehicle before purchase. You will also need to examine the vehicle title to determine whether it has the following warning signs:

  • The VIN on the title is matching with the one placed on the vehicle. The VIN number is found on the dashboard just below the glass. If the VIN in these two areas are not matching, you will have problems when registering the car.
  • Check the title to know the type, make, brand, status and year of the vehicle you are purchasing. If the title shows salvage or dismantled signs, then know the vehicle you are purchasing contains or was created using stolen parts.
  • Check to see if the word "homemade” or "reconstructed" appear on the title. If the vehicle has any of these two signs, you will have problems registering it.
  • Check to see whether the lienholder on the title bears the name of the person you are dealing with.
  • Confirm that the title contains only one name as the owner of the car you are purchasing. If there are multiple owners on the title, the bill of sale needs to be signed by both of them.

Title-Holding Details

In Arizona, the holder of the title certificate is the legal owner of the vehicle. If you make full payments for the vehicle that you intend to purchase, the seller should give you the title with a notarized signature in order to register your vehicle with the DMV. However, if you intend to purchase the vehicle in installments, the seller will remain with the title until you pay full amount for that vehicle. They will include their names on the title certificate as a lienholder until you pay full amount of the money agreed. This will enable you to register the vehicle in your name without any problem. You must therefore register your newly purchased car in person with the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicle within 15 days from the vehicle purchase date. After paying full amount for the vehicle, the seller will then notarize and sign the title over to you and mail it to you. The seller must provide the certificate of the title at the time of vehicle delivery. If the title is still in the hands of lienholder, the seller must first get it from them. If the title is missing, lost or damaged, the seller must apply for a duplicate copy with the Arizona DMV before completing a sale. However, if you are the seller selling your vehicle to the dealer but the title is still in the hands of lienholder, the dealer must give you the Dealer Acquisition Contract to sign in order to complete the sale. If you are a buyer, you don’t need the vehicle registration paperwork in order to register your car with the Arizona DMV. However, you need this paperwork to verify whether the vehicle has passed emission tests or verify that the tags are legitimate.

Bills of Sale and Sold Notices

Acquiring the bill of sale from the seller will help you title, insure or register your vehicle without any problem. Even though the Arizona MVD does not require you to submit a bill of sale when registering your newly purchased car, having a signed copy of this document will help deal with the confusion that may arise about the legitimacy of the transaction. If you have sold your vehicle through a private transaction, you will need to submit a Sold Notice to the Arizona MVD. This can be done online. This will prevent any blame or liability should the buyer fail to register the car he purchased from you within the stated deadline.

License Plate Refunds for Vehicle Sellers

If you are a private vehicle seller, you are eligible to receive license plate refunds for the vehicle you sold. This is because vehicle license plates do not belong to vehicles, but people.