Ask a Trooper: Protect yourself when selling vehicle

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, July 15, 2020

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By Troy Christianson

Question: If I sell my vehicle to a private party, what do you recommend I do to protect myself in the event the new owner gets into a crash or is arrested prior to them transferring the title into their name?

Answer: If the vehicle you sold is involved in a hit and run or pursuit and the driver flees the scene, law enforcement will contact the registered owner in an attempt to locate the driver. The steps below will help protect you as the seller or buyer of a vehicle from a private party.

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When you sell a vehicle, you (owner/seller) are responsible for filing the “Notice of Sale” within ten days of the sale. This is located in the lower portion of the Certificate of Title. Doing this in a timely manner protects you and helps law enforcement to have access to the most current registered owner information.  It is also helpful to create a receipt that contains the buyer’s contact information and date of sale.  This will serve as proof of when you sold the vehicle and to whom.

When purchasing a vehicle from a private party, it is important that the vehicle title is transferred as soon as possible. Minnesota state law says that you have to transfer the vehicle’s title within ten days of the date of sale, other than a sale by or to a licensed motor vehicle dealer.

New residents have a 60-day grace period in which to register their cars, passenger vans, 3/4 ton or less pickups, motorcycles, utility trailers, or house trailers as long as the displayed license plates are current. If your registration expires before the 60-day grace period is up, you must obtain Minnesota registration at the time of expiration.

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You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober.  Help us drive Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848.  (Or reach him at,