How to Sell a Car in Washington State in 5 Simple Steps

If you live in the Evergreen State, you may consider going car-less especially if you live in Seattle, opting for public transportation instead. Perhaps you’re ready to upgrade your current car to an electric car or a hybrid, that’s more environmentally friendly. Whatever your reason, you want to sell your car on the private market instead of dealing with trade-ins and dealerships. Read on to learn how to sell a car in Washington state in five easy steps. 

How to Sell a Car in Washington State | Metromile

Selling a car in Washington in 5 steps

If you’re interested in selling a car in Washington, follow these five steps to get started. Preparing ahead of time can help you with the process and avoid any headaches. Plus, it’ll make sure you take the necessary steps to transfer the ownership of the vehicle to the new buyer while releasing your liability since it’s not your car anymore. 

Step 1: Clean your car and take great photos 

You know how realtors stage houses to make them look nice and inviting for prospective homebuyers? You have to do something similar when selling a car. The first step is to clean out your car. 

That means getting rid of trash like any snack wrappers, old coffee cups, and crumbs on the floor from your favorite drive-through spot. Go to the car wash, throw out trash, and vacuum the mats and seats. Wipe down the dashboard, put on an air freshener, and take some great photos that clearly show the inside and outside of the vehicle. 

Step 2: Post your car listing 

After cleaning out your car and taking great photos, it’s time to advertise that your car is on the market. Post your car listing on sites like:

  • Craigslist
  • OfferUp
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • AutoTrader

Set a price that you’re willing to negotiate and include as many details as possible including make, model, and mileage. Include photos that are appealing and have good lighting and show the details of the car. Include all of the info, press publish and wait for responses. 

Step 3: Talk to potential buyers and get an inspection if needed 

When you sell anything online, you’re bound to get lots of casual buyers who are “just looking” and may not be serious about buying your car. Serious buyers typically want to get an inspection from a mechanic before finalizing the sale. 

If someone asks for an inspection, coordinate with them to make it happen. Prospective buyers pay for this part but you still have to manage the logistics. 

Step 4: Complete the required paperwork 

When selling a car in Washington, as is the case in other states, you need to fill out the required paperwork to make the transaction official. You’ll need to include the title and list out the mileage from your odometer. Both you and the buyer need to sign using your full, legal names and date it as well. 

If you’ve lost your vehicle title, you need to apply for a replacement title with the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) and pay $35.50. It takes about 8-10 weeks. Need it even faster? You can expedite it by paying $85.50. Think of it as a $50 convenience fee. 

On top of that, you’ll also need the Vehicle Bill of Sale

Keep copies of all records and remove the license plates. Collect payment and hand over the keys, and boom —  you’ve sold your car! 

Step 5: File of Report of Sale in WA 

You’ll also need to submit a Vehicle Report of Sale (WA) to let the state of Washington know that you’ve sold the car and that you’re not liable for the car anymore. The Vehicle Report of Sale (WA) must be submitted within 5 days of selling the car. You’ll need to include make, model, date sold, sale price, as well as buyer and seller information. 

To make it easier, you can submit the Vehicle Report of Sale (WA) online. You must pay a $13.25 fee when filing the report. 

The bottom line 

If you’re curious about how to sell a car in Washington state, take these five steps to get started and make sure you fill out the necessary paperwork. Selling a car in Washington is fairly straightforward but you want to make sure all steps are taken care of so you get your money and no longer have any liability related to the vehicle. 

After selling a car in Washington, you might buy a new car which is a great time to look into new car insurance options to make sure you’re getting the most competitive rate. If you’re a low-mileage driver, pay-per-mile car insurance could be a unique option you didn’t even know existed. You pay a low base rate and a few cents for each mile you drive. Get a free quote from Metromile today. 

Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer, podcast host of the Mental Health and Wealth show, and author of Dear Debt. She’s a cat mom to two jazzy cats, Miles and Thelonious, an amateur boxer, music lover, and needs coffee to function.