• State Regulations

WA State Regulations

There are various guidelines and tips for buying or selling Washington vehicles, all which you can get through the Washington Department of Licensing. This information makes the process that you must go through much easier, and offers a great deal of help when it comes to making the decisions that you won’t regret.

The hints offered by the Washington DOL are great for giving you the insight needed to purchase the right car, remember the most need-to-know information and methods, remember the processes that you must go through and your responsibilities within, including with Washington titling and registration, and make sure that the purchase is reported to the DOL in the time frame and method required.

What are Curbstoners?

Curbstoners are known as unlicensed dealers that will advertise and sell vehicles from the curbs of streets in Washington, posing to be private sellers. These transactions aren’t protected like a licensed dealership transaction is, therefore could leave you in a real pickle down the road.

These sellers are those that you want to watch out for because:

  • They are known for rolling back the odometer
  • Selling a salvaged vehicle without disclosing the status of the vehicle or branding of the title
  • Committing other forms of fraud.

If you think the seller you are dealing with is a curbstoner, please make sure to contact the Department of Licensing office in your county.

Questioning the Vehicle Seller

When buying a used car in Washington, you should have some questions in mind to ask the seller. These questions about the vehicle can give you a clue to its condition and how well you can foresee operation of the vehicle once you own it.

  • What is the length of current ownership?
  • What mileage did the vehicle show at time of previous sale?
  • What has the owner used the vehicle for?
  • Was the vehicle involved in any accidents or has it required serious repairs?
  • Why is the owner selling the vehicle now?
  • Is the vehicle’s title up-to-date and correct?
  • Are there any issues with the vehicle that require attention and/or repair?

You are also urged by the Department of Licensing to also check the main components and systems of the vehicle before making your decision, such as the following:

  • All vehicle lights such as headlights, tail lights, reverse and brake lights, etc.
  • Vehicle doors and windows
  • Seatbelts all throughout vehicle
  • Brake system of vehicle
  • Radiator and other components of cooling system
  • Oil (make sure nothing is mixing in!)
  • Transmission

Transfer Washington Vehicle Title

Transferring a vehicle title in Washington isn’t a hassle at all, and requires that you collect the following:

  • Odometer disclosure statement fully completed, which is provided in the vehicle licensing office.
  • Vehicle’s title with previous owner signature release.
  • Washington Bill of Sale
  • Emissions report certificate for required counties.

If the license has been lost or damaged, it is required that an Affidavit of Loss/Release of Interest form, which you can obtain online.

The form will need to be signed and notarized or signed in front of a county auditor.

The buyer will be required to complete the Washington title transfer for the vehicle, which must be done within 15 days of the purchase or a fine of $100 is assessed.

Purchase or Sale of Non-Titled Vehicle

It is essential that you have the title when completing a vehicle transaction. You will not be able to sell a vehicle in Washington without the vehicle’s title present, no matter what the case is. If you are the current vehicle owner, however, you can complete the Affidavit in Lieu of Title, which is only available in-office, and will represent your replacement title which must be ordered from the vehicle licensing office.

The processing time for this form is up to six weeks, so make sure that you are allowing adequate time for the sale.

Purchase or Sale of Unregistered Vehicle

The registration is different from the title, even in the influence of a sale. Unlike with a title, if the registration certificate of the vehicle is missing or there is none, you can still purchase or sell the vehicle in Washington. Registration will be obtained by the new owner after the transfer of title is complete.

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