959 W. 15th Street Panama City, FL 32401 850-810-0433
express maintenance express purchase
959 W. 15th Street, Panama City, FL 32401
Contact Us: 850-769-3377
Sales: Open Today! 8:30 AM - 7:00 PM Service: Open Today! 7:30 AM - 6:00 PM

How to Sell your Car

When you're ready to be rid of your car and replace it with a newer model, you have two options: sell it or trade it in. In this quick guide, we will tell you how to sell your car legally in Florida and help you decide if trading it in is a better option for you.

How Much Is It Worth?

Image via Flickr by truckhardware

Regardless of whether you decide to sell or trade in your vehicle, it's a good idea to know how much it's worth before you start asking people to take it off your hands. There are many services that will tell you how much your old vehicle is worth, but Kelley Blue Book is one of the most trusted and often used.

Keep in mind that you may not get the Kelley Blue Book value of your car. This is just to give you a good idea of your vehicle's value so that you can avoid being taken advantage of during the selling process.

Florida Laws for Private Sales

Florida requires that you do a few things before, during, and after privately selling your vehicle. Following these rules can save you from headaches later on:

Temporary Tag

If you have already transferred your previous vehicle's license plate to a different vehicle, you'll need to apply for a temporary demonstration-only tag to let people test drive the old vehicle. This tag shows that the vehicle is between owners and being test-driven. This protects both you and the people test driving your vehicle. You'll need proof of insurance to acquire a temporary tag.

Notice of Sale

Florida law states that you must fill out a Notice of Sale after your vehicle changes hands. This is largely for your protection as the seller, as the notice removes your name from the vehicle and your liability to it once you sell it to the next owner.

Title Transfer

A vehicle sale isn't final until you've transferred the title to the new owner. If you don't have a title, you'll need to apply for a duplicate before you sell the vehicle. You'll need an Application for Title, the Notice of Sale, your license, the title itself, the buyer's information, and the vehicle being sold. Head to a Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) office with all these items and information. Both you and the new owner need to go to the office to provide information and identification.

Pitfalls and Concerns of Privately Selling

Though you have greater control over how much your vehicle sells for (if you can negotiate successfully with potential buyers), there are some limitations and concerns you should be aware of. Here are a few pitfalls of privately selling your vehicle:

Lien Restrictions

If you still have a lien out for your vehicle, you can't sell it in Florida. The lien must be finished before the vehicle is legally sold. The vehicle can only be sold after the lienholder reports to the FLHSMV.

VIN Inspection

You will have to go through the Vehicle Identification Number and Odometer Verification process if your car was not titled in Florida. You can get this done at an FLHSMV office, a dealership, through a police officer, or with a Florida notary public.


There's a high chance you'll have to negotiate with potential buyers about the price of your car. It's the nature of private sales. If you're not willing to haggle with people, privately selling your car may not be the best route. If you choose to sell your vehicle privately, you might consider a starting price that's more than you would normally ask for. That way, buyers can 'talk you down' to the price you wanted all along. However, you run a risk of would-be buyers passing up your vehicle because its listing price is too high.

Is Trading In a Better Option?

There are many benefits to trading in your vehicle to a dealership instead of selling it. One of the most attractive benefits is how much time and energy you'll save. Rather than go through all the effort of advertising your vehicle, speaking to potential buyers, and the various legalities of selling your car, a dealership can take it off your hands with significantly less hassle. Here are a few other factors you should keep in mind as you consider trading in your vehicle:


If you have a lien on your vehicle, you can still trade it in at a dealership. The dealership will take responsibility for the lien. They have 10 days to satisfy the lien before they can sell it to the customer. Though you may take a little less for your vehicle through a trade-in than a possible private sale, this factor can make the choice a simple one for those who still have liens on their vehicle.


People who think that they are willing to put in the effort to sell their vehicle to get the best price possible should consider the tax advantages of trading in their car. Florida applies sales tax to a new car after dealer discounts and trade-ins are factored in. This is particularly important to drivers who plan to use the money from a private sale to buy a new vehicle at a dealership.

If you opt for selling your vehicle and you actually get the price you ask for, you will pay more taxes on a new vehicle than someone who traded in a vehicle to buy the same new vehicle. The trade-in shopper paid taxes on only the difference in price after the value of their trade-in was subtracted from the new car's price tag. This can be frustrating to the private seller after they put in all the work to legally sell their car in Florida.

Taking your vehicle to a dealership to trade up to a new, better vehicle is likely the best option. When you're ready for your next home away from home, take your old car to Panama City Toyota to see what kind of deal we can give you. Give us a call or send us a message to get started on your trade in.