Detective Corner

Knowledge is power! The Frederick Police Department detectives keep the community up to date on crime prevention. 

Private Seller Car Sales

Buying and selling privately owned cars, rather than through a dealership, is common practice. Private sales can often save a buyer thousands of dollars while sellers benefit by getting more money than what a dealer may offer for a trade-in. Websites, social media and online market places have increased the availability of private seller car sales. Sometimes though, the benefit to the buyer or seller isn’t worth the hassle. 

Here are some tips to protect yourself and understand the process when purchasing or selling a private vehicle:

8 Tips for the Buyer

1. Confirm the VIN on the title matches the VIN on the vehicle’s dashboard and doorjamb. 

  • Take advantage of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) VINCheck -  a free service provided to the public to assist in determining if a vehicle has been reported as stolen, but not recovered or reported as a salvage vehicle by a participating NICB member insurance company. 
  • Use the Colorado Motor Vehicle Verification System. Compare the car’s model year and VIN with vehicles currently reported stolen in the Colorado Crime Information Center. 

2. Conduct a vehicle history on the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) -  an online service that provides consumers with valuable information about a vehicle’s condition and history. For a fee, you can compare mileage listed on the history report to mileage listed on the odometer. If the mileage listed on the report is more than what is listed on the odometer, it may indicate an odometer rollback.

3. Ask the seller to allow a mechanic that you choose to look over the vehicle before buying. 

4. Make sure the seller and buyer complete the back of the title. 

5. Upon purchasing a vehicle, the buyer needs to obtain a temporary registration permit in the county in which they live unless the following applies: 

  • After Hours Purchase: A buyer of a vehicle may operate the vehicle before registering the vehicle when:
  • The buyer has purchased the motor vehicle within the last 36 hours from a person who is not a licensed motor vehicle dealer.
  • The vehicle was purchased either on a Saturday, Sunday, a legal holiday or between 5 pm and 8 am.
  • The vehicle is being driven from the location where the seller stored the vehicle to the location where the buyer intends to store the vehicle.

6. Before obtaining a permit, the buyer must carry in the vehicle the following: 

  •  A Bill of Sale that identifies the vehicle by year, make and VIN. The Bill of Sale must include the buyer and seller signatures and the time and date of the sale. 
  • Proof of insurance.

7. Make sure a Bill of Sale is completed and signed by both buyer and seller. 

8. If purchasing a vehicle from out-of-state, a VIN verification form will need to be completed.  

5 Tips for the Seller

1. Provide the buyer with a properly endorsed Colorado Certificate of Title. Make sure the seller and buyer information is printed legibly. 

2.  A best practice is to request the transaction be conducted with a cashier’s check that is verified with the issuing bank or by you accompanying the buyer to their bank. 

3. Under Colorado law, sellers are required to remove their license plates from the vehicle upon transfer of title. Removing the plates prevents the new owner from not registering the vehicle. Sellers who didn’t remove plates have received bills from toll roads due to the buyer never registering the vehicle.  

4. Under Colorado law, the seller of a motor vehicle shall not be liable for any damages from any negligent operation after transferring an adequately endorsed title and providing the vehicle to the buyer. 

5. If the buyer pays in cash, make sure the money is authentic before the transfer.