Official State of Iowa Website

Selling a Vehicle

Deciding how you will sell your vehicle

If you decide to sell your car, you will likely sell either to a car dealer or to another person who is not a car dealer (often called "private party sales"). This article focuses on selling your vehicle to someone who is not a car dealer.

Information iconThe Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) provides information and includes related forms on their How to Sell Your Vehicle in Iowa page. The DOT also has a helpful checklist for selling your vehicle that includes a buyer’s acknowledgment that they received the vehicle and title, which you should have the buyer sign and you should keep.

Meeting potential buyers

If you are selling the vehicle on your own:

  • Meet potential buyers in a safe, public place, preferably with cameras
  • If possible, bring a friend or family member
  • Make sure you communicate to the buyer that the sale is “as is”, which means that you are not making any guarantees about the vehicle’s functionality or condition
  • Before allowing the potential buyer to test drive the vehicle:
    • Make sure your vehicle insurance covers test drives
    • Take a photo of the potential buyer’s driver’s license, so that if they drive away with your vehicle, you have identification to provide to police 
  • Watch out for buyer scams

Pre-sale inspection

Iowa law does not require a pre-sale inspection, but a buyer may want to have a mechanic inspect the vehicle before finalizing the sale. If the buyer wants to have the car inspected, make sure you agree on when and where the inspection will take place, as well as who will pay for the inspection.  Before giving the vehicle to a mechanic for inspection, make sure you have details on the identity of both the buyer (such as a photo of the buyer's driver's license) and the mechanic. 

Documents and information to finalize the vehicle sale

Certificate of Title

Hand pointing to documents with a gold ribbonWhen you obtained ownership of your vehicle, you should have received or applied for the vehicle’s Certificate of Title. If you have misplaced your vehicle’s Certificate of Title, you can get a replacement by filling out and delivering Iowa DOT form 411033 to your local county’s treasurer office, along with a $25 fee.

To finalize the sale of your vehicle, you must transfer the Certificate of Title by filling out the following information on the back of the Certificate of Title, and then physically providing the Certificate of Title to the buyer:

  • Name of seller
  • Name and address of buyer
  • Odometer reading (for vehicles with model year 2011 and newer)
  • Date of sale
  • Signatures of seller and buyer

Damage Disclosure Statement (if necessary)

Iowa Code section 321.69 requires that the seller (including the seller of a motor home) must disclose damage about the vehicle.

The disclosure is not required if the vehicle is:

  • More than seven model years old
    • Under Iowa Administrative Rule 761-400.55(2), the model year formula is the current year minus 8. That means, if the year is 2022, subtract 8 to get 2014. This tells us that in 2022, model years 2014 and older do not require damage disclosure statements. 
  • A motor truck or truck tractor with a gross vehicle weight rating of sixteen thousand pounds or more
  • A motorcycle, moped, or scooter
  • Special mobile equipment
  • New motor vehicles with a true mileage of 1,000 miles or less, unless the vehicle has sustained damage for which the cost of repair exceeds 50 percent of the fair market value of the vehicle

The Damage Disclosure Statement is Iowa DOT Form 411108.

For more information, read the Iowa DOT form closely, review the information available at Iowa Tax & Tags, and read Iowa Administrative Rule 761-400.55 and Iowa Code section 321.69.

Before handing the keys and title to the buyer

  • Make sure you have cash in hand or the check clears before giving the buyer your vehicle and the title
  • Take a picture of the title with the appropriate parts completed and signed
  • Have the buyer sign the buyer’s acknowledgment, available at the bottom of this DOT checklist
  • Make sure to remove your license plates from the vehicle
  • If you purchase another vehicle within 30 days of selling your old one, your plates can be put on your next vehicle as long as you have paid the fees for the next replacement vehicle
  • If you don’t purchase a replacement vehicle you should turn in the license plates to the county treasurer

After handing the keys and title to the buyer

  • Cancel your insurance for the sold vehicle
  • If you don’t purchase a replacement vehicle, you can receive a refund for the “unused” registration fees for the vehicle you sold, unless the remaining unused registration fee is less than $10.00
  • To receive a refund, you must fill out Iowa DOT Form 411047 and turn it in to the county treasurer within six months of selling your vehicle