Buying a Car

Buying a Car from a Private Seller in Vegas: Completing the Sale

Buying a used car is a big decision — and there are a lot of factors to consider. First, you have to find used cars to look at, and if you’re buying from a private seller, you have to meet up with the person, look at the vehicle and do your research to help make sure the vehicle is in good shape.

Then, when you’ve found the right car and you and then seller have agreed on a price, it’s time to make the deal. In Las Vegas, there are some local laws you should keep in mind.

Laws You Should Know

In Nevada, certain laws apply to transactions involving a private seller that you should be aware of. The Nevada DMV website provides the following information:

Don’t buy a car on an empty lot. In most cases, a vehicle sale on an empty lot is illegal. The DMV recommends that private-party sales be completed at a residential address. So, if you first meet the seller in a public place for safety, just know that you can’t complete the actual sale in an empty lot.

Make sure the seller has a title. The DMV says the buyer must obtain a properly signed-off title from the seller in order to register the vehicle and transfer ownership. If the seller doesn’t have a title, the DMV says the owner of record of the vehicle needs to apply for a duplicate title before you buy the car.

Make sure the seller owns the vehicle fair and square. Subleasing and “takeover payment” arrangements are illegal, according to the DMV, and the seller must satisfy the loan or lien on the vehicle before selling it. So, if the seller doesn’t already own the vehicle at the time of the sale, the DMV says the buyer needs to wait for the seller to satisfy the terms of the loan and obtain the title.

Registering Your New Vehicle

Once the transaction’s made and the vehicle title is in your hands (or the hands of a lender), it’s time to register the vehicle in your name. Nevada law requires that you register the vehicle at a DMV office within 30 days of the purchase — and you have to have auto insurance and a movement permit (driver’s license) first. When you go to the DMV, here’s what you need to have to register the vehicle:

  • Title or Security Agreement from a financial institution
  • Nevada Evidence of Insurance Card
  • Nevada Emission Vehicle Inspection Report, if required
  • VIN Inspection, if the vehicle was not previously registered in Nevada (The DMV says larger DMV offices have VIN inspection stations, and some private businesses in the Carson Valley area scan also perform the inspections.)
  • Application for Vehicle Registration

Now, the used car is finally yours — and it’s time to hit the road!

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