You should have the same paperwork for your trade-in vehicle as you would for selling a car privately, as the process is essentially the same. Some dealers are able to handle duplicate title requests or other paperwork, so you may not have to go to a motor vehicle office to obtain the papers yourself. Aside from state-required paperwork, you should also bring other documentation or vehicle items if you have them.
Each state and dealer differs in its procedures for accepting a trade. Your salesperson should give you detailed instructions about what to bring back to complete your car purchase. Otherwise, you can contact your state's Department of Motor Vehicles office or visit its website to review state-required documents for selling a car. A title is the most common form, but if your vehicle is older than 10 years, your state might not require a title at all. Other forms may be used in its place.
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Title Transfer Paperwork
You'll have to bring in your title to trade in your car. Many states do not allow ownership transfers if a lien holder is listed on the title, which means that a bank has a financial interest in the vehicle. The original lien release must accompany the title. For older vehicles that don't have titles, a signed, state-issued bill of sale form and registration proves ownership and completes a transfer. If you do not have the required forms, work with your dealership to obtain them; many dealers have state forms on hand to complete or speed up the process. Or you may have to go to a motor vehicle department to apply for a duplicate title.
Do not remove any physical items from the car before trading, unless you talked to the dealership about your intentions when it was appraised and given a value. This includes wheels, tires or aftermarket electronics that were installed in the vehicle, such as a navigation or DVD system. Let the dealer know if you plan to keep any items, as doing so can effect your trade value. Otherwise, be sure to bring all sets of keys, the owner's manual, floor mats and tools, such as ones needed to adjust the roof-rack or other car attachments.
If you have any maintenance paperwork or records, bring them in with your trade. Your vehicle will eventually be sold to another person, and the paperwork can help the owner keep up with maintenance. For example, many cars require certain maintenance replacement parts, such as a timing belt, so knowing whether or not you've replaced necessary items is beneficial to a new owner. If your vehicle has been in an accident, bring your repair receipts. Accidents usually show up on history reports, so further explanation of damages is also useful to a new owner.