Selling your vehicle
can be simple, but to avoid problems between you and the
buyer, you should know what the law requires.
Before you sell your vehicle
Have a vehicle title in your name.
You must have a title to the vehicle in your name, even if you have never driven the vehicle. You can sell a vehicle that isn't titled to you only if you are a licensed dealer.
Pay what you owe before you sell the vehicle.
If you owe money for the vehicle, your title will show a lien holder (a lender). You must pay what you owe and get a lien release from the lender. If your lender holds your title, contact them for instructions on releasing your lien and obtaining the title.
After you sell your vehicle
Once you've sold the vehicle, you must do the following:
Sign and date the title in the area for the signature of the selling owner or owners. If the title shows more than one owner and the names are separated by the word "and", all owners shown must sign. If the word "or" separates the names, any of the owners shown may sign. If you lost the original title you will have to apply for a replacement title. Sign the replacement and give it to the buyer - even if you find the original. The original becomes invalid when a replacement title is issued.
Fill in the selling price on the title. The Department of Revenue checks titles and investigates suspiciously low sale prices.
Fill in the name and address of the buyer or buyers on the title.
If there is a lien listed on the title, provide the buyer with a lien release document from your lien holder; the buyer will need both documents to get a title.
Remove the license plates from the vehicle. You may transfer them to another vehicle you own. If the vehicle is a truck registered at 10,000 pounds or more, a farm truck registered at 16,000 pounds or more, a moped, a trailer or a recreational vehicle trailer, the license plates stay with the vehicle and do not need to be removed.
If you wish to have a record of the sale, you may also complete form MV2928 . The Bill of Sale is provided for your convenience, it is not a required form. You may keep a copy with your records, and make a copy for the buyer as documentation of the sale.
If your vehicle is less than 10 model years old, or is otherwise
not exempt, write in the odometer reading - even if you sell to a
family member. The current calendar year minus your vehicle's model
year equals your vehicle's age. The odometer reading is the number of
miles on the vehicle, not on the engine (even if the engine is newer
than the rest of the vehicle). Write the miles in the space provided
on the title and show whether the miles are:
Actual = The odometer has always worked properly and
recorded all miles the vehicle has traveled.
Not Actual = The odometer statement was not filled out by the
owner at the time of sale; the odometer was replaced and set at
zero because of a repair; the odometer stopped working and the
vehicle was driven more than 30 days before repair; or, the
odometer numbers were turned back.
In Excess of Mechanical Limits = The odometer showed 99,999
miles and turned to zero, instead of to 100,000.
Note: Only 6-digit odometers can record more than 100,000 miles. Don't record tenths of miles on the title.
A "brand" is a permanent notation on the vehicle record that gives a prospective buyer important information about the history of a vehicle.
Note: There are penalties up to $5,000 for failing to disclose title brand information.
Your title must be branded if, during the time you owned the vehicle, you could answer "yes" to any of the following questions:
Was your vehicle used as a taxi or for public transportation?
Was it salvaged? A "salvage" brand is needed if your vehicle is less than seven model years old and was damaged more than 70% of its fair market value. If your vehicle was salvaged, repaired, and passed inspection, your title should have the brand "rebuilt salvage."
Was it flood damaged? A "flood damaged" brand is needed if water damage was more than 70% of its fair market value.
Was it used as a police vehicle?
The brand "manufacturer buyback" on your title means the vehicle was bought back under the lemon law. A brand of "stfarm not inspected" is placed on a
vehicle declared by State Farm Insurance as a total loss, but not
submitted as salvage, and was part of the State Farm settlement with
the Department of Justice. The vehicle has not passed an inspection
by a certified state salvage inspector. This is not a salvage brand.
If you sell your vehicle and your plates aren't expired, you can transfer them to a vehicle of the same type that is titled to you, your spouse, or same sex domestic partner. You can't transfer your plates to the buyer - even if it's another family
member. If you don't use the plates, you can't
get a refund for any remaining registration time.
transferring plates and registration refunds
Title branding laws
that apply when you sell your vehicle privately also
apply when you trade it in to a dealer. A dealer
may ask you to guarantee the condition of your
trade-in under "Buyer's Representation"
on the purchase contract. You must give accurate
information, or the dealer may be able to sue you
If you sell your vehicle as junk, and you don't want the vehicle to be driven again, write the word "Junk" across the title before you give it to the buyer or salvage dealer.
If you lost your title, you don't need a replacement title to junk the vehicle. You can show the certificate of vehicle registration or Confirmation of Ownership as proof you own the vehicle, and sign a junk bill of sale.
Note: Once a vehicle is junked it can never be titled or licensed
again, even if someone repairs or restores it.
Get a dealer license to sell more than five vehicles a year
Wisconsin law says you can sell up to five vehicles (titled in your
name) in 12 months. If you sell more than five, or if you buy even
one vehicle for the purpose of reselling it, you must have a
license. Contact the DMV Dealer & Agent Section at (608) 266-1425 or
Take your plates off the vehicle to avoid tickets.
Photocopy and save the signed title or bill of sale.
Transfer plates to your next vehicle - not the buyer's.
Junk the title if you junk the vehicle.
Get a dealer license to sell more than five vehicles a year.
For more information about selling your vehicle, contact (608) 266-1466 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you write to us about a specific vehicle, please include the license plate number or the vehicle identification number.
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Last modified:December 4, 2012