The “What To Do If You Sell Your Car” Checklist

Newsday recently reported that a man was issued 32 parking tickets in his name although none of them rightfully belonged to him.  WGRZ in Buffalo likewise reported that a Western New York couple received $5,000 in Manhattan parking tickets despite the fact that they never took their truck to New York City.

So how do you avoid such mishaps?   Usually, these types of errors occur in connection with the sale of a vehicle.  Below is a list of things you should do when selling or transferring ownership of a motor vehicle in New York.

  • Make sure the car’s title is signed by both parties.
  • Make sure you write up a simple bill of sale (i.e., a writing showing that the vehicle is being sold naming yourself and the buyer).  New York has an official bill of sale form for cars.  It is Form No. Doc MV-912
  • Before you sell scrape off the registration sticker from the windshield.
  • Remove the license plates and surrender them to DMV
  • Cancel your auto insurance on the car but only after you have surrendered your plates

If you don’t follow this advice, you could end up experiencing a variety of problems.  The worst problem you can have occurs if you don’t return your license plates to DMV.  For each license plate registered in your name, you must maintain continuous automobile insurance coverage from the time you acquire it to the time you surrender it.  Any lapse can result in your driver license being suspended plus, of course, fines.

Another pitfall involves your registration sticker.  If you fail to remove it, you could be called into answer (and in fact could be found liable) for parking tickets issued after your sale.  If you buyer doesn’t register the car but instead uses plates from some other vehicle (this stuff happens more than you’d think), you could be found liable at the last owner of record.

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10 Comments. Leave new

  • Ashley Richardson
    June 24, 2021 1:50 pm

    Hi there, thank you for this information. Unfortunately, I am finding it too late. I failed to remove my registration from a vehicle when I traded it in to a dealership. I re-registered the plates to my new vehicle but have received at least 8 tickets due to the new owner of my old vehicle. I have talked to DMV and 311 and am at my wits end. Is there any course of action I could take to no longer be associated? Can the police remove the old registration if I have proof that I am no longer the owner? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Matthew Weiss
      June 24, 2021 1:54 pm

      Ashley Richardson,

      So sorry to hear about your misfortune. I would visit your local DMV office and discuss this issue.

      Good luck!

      Matthew Weiss

  • Tony Iatridis
    March 29, 2019 11:18 am

    New York now does have an official bill of sale form you may want to update your article. Doc MV-912

  • joette narcisse
    February 18, 2016 6:37 am

    Useful commentary . I am thankful for the details , Does anyone know where my company would be able to locate a blank GA T-7 copy to fill in ?

  • Mr. Weiss,
    I recently inquired about traffic ticket and your answers were extremely helpful.
    Your website has become a very valuable resource for me. I have another car related inquiry.

    I recently sold an old vehicle to a friend who works at a dealership. I think the plan is to sell it at an auction. I have a copy of Bill of Sale and signed title. Plates are returned and insurance cancelled. CT state doesn’t require registration sticker on windshield. My questions are:
    – If the buyer decides not to transfer title/registration, am I liable for damage caused by this car since I will be the last person registered?
    – Should the title and bill of sale have the same buyer’s name? My friend wrote the bill of sale but the dealership signed the title.

    • J,

      I am not sure about CT law so I can’t give you a complete answer.

      However, if the buyer decides not to transfer title/registration, I would bet you are still liable until the transfer is processed by CT DMV>

      This sounds wrong. I would guess that the title and bill of sale should have the same buyer’s name.

      You definitely should check with CT DMV on both questions. There could be serious and adverse consequences if the transfer was properly effectuated.

      Best of luck.

      Matthew Weiss

      • Thank you for your response. I already checked with CT DMV regarding these issues and they don’t seem to have any answers. They simply said return the plates and the rest is your responsibility. They have no procedures involving car sales (ex. Release of Liability). It’s difficult to understand how the system is such that seller can be liable for buyer’s irresponsibility indefinitely. and that there’s nothing I can do to protect myself. Who would be the best person to consult on this matter?


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