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Top 5 Legal Tips for Selling Your Car

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Selling your old car can be a great way to get some quick cash to finance a new vehicle. But if sellers aren't careful, a used car can become more of a liability than an asset.

To avoid angry buyers and assure legal sales, here are five legal tips to consider when selling your car:

1. Cars Can Be Sold 'As-Is.'

Commercial dealers who sell used cars are obligated by an implied warranty to deliver the car in good, working condition.

Private sellers, however, generally do not have to make any such promises about a used car, and can sell a vehicle "as-is." However, if you make any explicit promises about the car's identity, quality, or performance, then a buyer may have legal rights against you if the car doesn't conform to your promises.

In most states, "lemon laws" require a car to pass a basic state inspection before sale do not apply to private dealers. Most sellers will not be obligated to provide proof of a recent inspection before selling their vehicles.

However, it will go a long way toward ensuring a trouble-free sale if the seller does the inspection anyway -- evincing that the car is road-ready at the moment of sale.

3. Set a Reasonable Price.

By getting an inspection and using resources like Kelley Blue Book, you can come up with a ballpark asking price for your car which reflects its condition.

4. Be Careful With Advertising.

Make sure that any representations you make in any written or online ad accurately represent the condition of your car or your buyer may sue you for breach of contract.

Also keep in mind that some neighborhoods won't allow car owners to advertise by placing a "for sale" sign on the car itself.

5. Make 'No Returns' Clear.

Car buyers often have the right to cancel or return a used car within a few days of purchase, but there is typically no such right when buying a car from a private party. One exception is a private car sale in Massachusetts, which may be cancelled within 30 days if the buyer finds a substantial defect -- safety or functional -- that the seller knew about.

Private sellers are usually not required by law to let buyers know the seller will not accept returns, but many buyers will appreciate the information in making a more final, informed choice about purchasing a used car from you.

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