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Although this is not a straightforward process, legally selling an unregistered car is possible. It will require a lot of paperwork and leg work before you achieve success, but it’s worth it after you consider there isn’t a very a fruitful alternative.

Why is it Hard to Sell an Unregistered Car?

If your car is not registered, potential buyers may be skeptical about buying it for a few obvious reasons. As a result, if the car is legitimate, consider getting it registered and selling it freely.

If for some reason you are not able to do this, you may need to drop the price significantly to find a buyer. This will cover the hassle and expenses that the buyer is going to incur while registering the car. 

Also, a buyer will not be able to test drive an unregistered car, which is another factor that could push potential buyers away. Unless your sales skills are exceptional, this is where dropping the price point becomes particularly necessary. 

How to Register a Car Before Selling it

Registering a new car should be an easy process. Registration laws vary from one state to the next, and the rules on how to go about the process may also vary from state to state. Check with your state’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) to find out what is required of you. 

Once you understand the process, register the car. You will need to provide proof of vehicle insurance, a vehicle identification number, proof of purchase, your driver’s license, your social security card, and proof of residence. Schedule an appointment at your local DMV and fill out the vehicle registration forms. You will need to pay a fee for the registration process.

Once this is done, you will get a registration sticker, which must be placed on the license plate as proof of registration. Depending on your state, you might need to renew the registration every 1-2 years. 

What Happens if You Cannot Register Your Vehicle?

Although the process of registering a car is easy, some reasons may make it hard for you to get DMV registration. They include the following:

  • Financial Strain: You might be unable to pay the money needed for DMV registration. In this case, the only alternative would be to sell your car without registration
  • Emission Failure: In some states, vehicles with faulty exhaust systems cannot be registered. However, if you live in such a state and have the money for it, you can choose to either repair or replace the exhaust system
  • Lack of Auto Insurance: Some states will not allow you to register a vehicle that is not insured
  • Failing a Smog Test: In California, 10% of vehicles have failed the smog test

Things to Consider When Selling an Unregistered Car

If you have to sell your car without any registration, here are a couple of factors that you should consider:

  • The Cost of Registering the Vehicle: This should be deducted from the price of the car
  • The Make and Model of the Car: This will determine the value of the car
  • Your Asking Price: If you are the seller, you will need to factor in all the extra costs, risks, and inconveniences that the buyer will incur to bring the unregistered car up to speed  
  • The State Laws that Apply: Laws on selling an unregistered car will vary between states. Find the laws that apply to your state and figure out the best way to satisfy them
  • Loans and Liens Attached to the Unregistered Rar: If you have loans and/or liens attached to the car, you may not be able to sell it legally without the lender’s approval. Remember that the lender must sign a letter to release the car