How to Sell My Car to a Friend

by Robert RussellUpdated July 05, 2023

There is an adage that you should never sell a car to a friend. This advice is motivated by the assumption that as soon as something goes wrong with the car, your friendship will be in jeopardy and your friend will blame you for selling him a "lemon". Although you might not experience this situation, there are some friends that you may not want to engage in this type of business arrangement. Use your judgment. You can avoid tension if you and your friend are clear about the condition of the car and the nature of the transaction.

Lemon Definition

A lemon is a vehicle that is defective or does not meet the standards of quality expected by the consumer.

Decide what kind of business transaction you want to make. Consider whether the goal is to receive a fair price or to help a friend that needs a car. This rationale can determine how much money to charge for the car.

Determine the selling price. If the transaction is primarily a business transaction, check the Kelley Blue Book to determine the fair value of your automobile. The Blue Book can be found at local libraries, banks and major bookstores or you can visit the Kelley Blue Book website for free online (

The asking price for used cars also depends on the region in which you live. Check the classified ads in local newspapers and local auto traders for similar vehicles. Consider the condition of your car in terms of mileage, repairs and other factors. If the transaction is motivated more by the desire to help a friend, reach an agreement with your friend about the price. Consider what your friend can afford and consider your own needs.

Arrange to have the car inspected by a local mechanic. Do not risk selling a car that might have major difficulties to a friend. To protect your friendship, be sure to choose a trustworthy mechanic. Both you and your friend should be present for the inspection. This approach will help to ensure that you will both be clear about the shape and condition of the car. If minor or major repair work is required, you can discuss the details and decide how the news might affect the price.

Ensure that all of the paperwork for the car is in order. A record of all of the repair work will provide helpful information for your friend. You also need to take care of the title to complete the transfer of ownership. The seller is required by federal law to provide the buyer with the title. In most states, the buyer is responsible to inform the Department of Motor Vehicles about the change of ownership.

Make arrangements for payment. This arrangement will also depend on the nature of the friendship. Come to an understanding about the details of the payment. You may agree that it is better for your friendship that the payments be completed and the business transaction closed before the car is exchanged. Perhaps the nature of your friendship permits your friend to pay you on an installment plan if this approach is better for his budget. If you choose the latter option, agree upon a timetable for payments.

Contact your insurance company to inform them that you have sold the car.

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