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How can I Prepare to Transfer Ownership of my Car?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated May 23, 2024
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If one is planning to transfer ownership of one’s car to another person, there are a few things which can help make the process easier. Frequently people transfer ownership of a car for one of three reasons. They may be selling the car, giving the car to a friend or relative, or donating the car to charity. Each different option to transfer ownership is quite similar in terms of preparation, but there are a few noted differences.

Before people transfer ownership, they should locate the car's pink slip. This will be an important deed for the new owner to possess. As well, one must usually sign a form, signifying one plans to transfer ownership to someone else.

In some cases, the form that will transfer ownership must be notarized prior to being filed with the state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV). This is not the case in all states. Individual state websites for DMVs can walk one through the necessary steps.

When selling the car or donating the car, it is very important that one files the transfer or has a record of the transfer being filed. This relieves the old owner of any liability toward the car, should the car be involved in an accident. The same holds true for transferring ownership to a relative.

In most cases, auto and travel clubs are likely to allow one to transfer ownership of an auto at their offices. This eliminates the need to wait in DMV lines, which can be quite tedious. If one does not have an auto club membership, then one should take the transfer documents to the DMV and witness the transfer.

One should also alert one’s auto insurance company after transferring ownership. This means one is relieved from the burden of paying further insurance fees on the car. It also, establishes that one no longer owns the car.

If one plans to transfer ownership to a charity, one should be prepared to ask for a receipt of transfer. This will help one use such a receipt to claim the donation on taxes at year’s end. Most charities are quite willing to accept working cars, but some may be more picky about accepting older model cars, or cars that are no longer functioning.

One should check with the charity regarding what cars the charity will accept. One should also verify the legitimacy of the charity, and its status as a non-profit organization, so that the donation will provide a tax break. Provided the charity is legitimate, a receipt also proves one has no further liability in regards to the car.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WikiMotors contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By allenJo — On May 20, 2011

Different states have differing rules when comes to the specifics of the deed transfer. For example, in my state, if you are transferring the car from one relative to another, you don’t have to notarize the deed—you only need to sign it. This applies only to relatives.

Check with your state to find out what the regulations are. A tag agency or an insurance company can usually help in this regard.

By anon32589 — On May 24, 2009

If a person sells a car and did not transfer ownership to the new owner and that person gets into an accident, is the person entitled to receive money from the insurance company to fix his car?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WikiMotors contributor, Tricia...
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