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Selling a car in Hawaii can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be with the right preparation and knowledge. The aloha state has some unique requirements when it comes to transferring vehicle ownership that are important to understand beforehand.

If you’re short on time, here’s the key things to know about selling a car in Hawaii: you need to obtain a no-fault insurance release before sale, complete bill of sale and title transfer paperwork, consider advertising locally, and meet buyers at auto dealer sites for test drives and completing the sale transaction.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about selling your car in Hawaii, from preparing your vehicle, determining your asking price, advertising it, test drives and paperwork, to finally completing the sale.

Preparing Your Vehicle For Sale

Obtain Insurance Release

Before selling your car in Hawaii, contact your insurance company to obtain a release of interest form. This document shows that any lien holders or loss payees on your policy agree to release their financial interest.

Having this paperwork ready will make the title transfer faster when you sell the vehicle.

Detail and Photograph Your Vehicle

A thorough detailing goes a long way towards showing off your vehicle and demonstrating that it has been well cared for. Clean the exterior, shampoo carpets and seats, wax and polish all surfaces. Take high quality photos that capture your vehicle’s best attributes.

Post these photos when you create the sale listing to attract more interest.

Get Vehicle History Report

Getting a vehicle history report from Carfax or another provider gives transparency into your car’s background. This builds trust with potential buyers by revealing any title issues, accidents, or major repairs. Be prepared to discuss or explain anything negative on the report.

Gather Maintenance Records

Keep all records of maintenance and repairs performed during your ownership handy. This documentation assures buyers that you properly serviced the vehicle. Details like oil changes, new tires, battery replacements go a long way when negotiating price.

Check Fair Market Value

Research prices for your vehicle’s make, model, year and mileage on sites like Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds. Compare asking prices for similar vehicles listed for sale locally. Price your car competitively based on condition to give yourself the best chance of selling quickly.

Pricing Your Vehicle

Check Blue Book and Local Listing Prices

The first step in pricing your car is to check the Kelley Blue Book ( value for your make, model, year, mileage, and condition. KBB will give you a fair market range for both trade-in and private party sale values.

It’s also wise to browse local Hawaii listings on sites like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace to see what similar vehicles are listed for.

Factor in Vehicle Condition

Your car’s condition plays a major role in determining the right asking price. Is your car in excellent, good, fair or poor condition? Be honest in your assessment. Significant dents, scratches, tears, stains, mechanical issues and high mileage will lower your car’s value.

Getting your car detailed, fixing minor issues, and providing maintenance records can help maximize your selling price.

Consider Negotiability

It’s common for buyers to negotiate down the listing price, so you’ll want to price your car accordingly. Consider pricing it about 10-15% above your minimum acceptable selling price to leave room for offers. For example, if you want to net $5,000, consider listing the car for $5,750.

You can then negotiate down to your target. Be prepared to walk away from lowball offers.

Selling a used car in Hawaii takes research, honesty and savvy pricing strategy. Checking authoritative sites like KBB along with local listings, accurately assessing your car’s condition, and leaving room for negotiation will help you maximize your sale.

Advertising and Listing Your Car

Online Listings

Posting your car on online classifieds sites is one of the most effective ways to get it in front of motivated buyers in Hawaii. Top sites like Craigslist,, AutoTrader, and CarsForSale offer local classifieds and are popular with car shoppers.

Here are some tips for creating effective online listings:

  • Write a detailed, honest description highlighting features, condition, maintenance records, etc.
  • Post plenty of high-quality photos from multiple angles in bright lighting
  • Research and compare prices of similar vehicles sold locally recently to set a competitive price
  • Refresh your ad frequently to keep it at the top of listings
  • List your contact info prominently so buyers can easily reach out with questions

Online ads give you great exposure, with sites like Craigslist getting over 50 million monthly visitors. Plus it’s free to post on most sites!

Local Classifieds and Bulletin Boards

In addition to major online sites, advertising your car locally can also be effective. Options include local newspapers like the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s classified section, community bulletin boards, mail circulars, and even good old yard signs.

The advantage of local channels is you can zero in on neighborhoods and communities you know have buyers for your type of vehicle. Strategically posting flyers at busy intersections, community centers, colleges, or parking lots targets more eyeballs.

And creative, eye-catching ads and signs motivate viewers to action.

Leverage Social Networks

Finally, leveraging your social networks can provide a free and easy way to spread the word that your car is for sale. Post details and photos on neighborhood groups like Nextdoor, Facebook groups, and other Hawaii-based networks.

You can even run social ad campaigns targeted locally. Facebook Marketplace lets you boost posts for $5-10 per day. An analysis by CarSellingMadeSimple found social network ads delivered 32% more contacts than Craigslist.

The key is casting a wide net across multiple advertising channels, both online and offline. This exposes your car to the most potential buyers.

Showing and Test Drives

Safety First

When showing your car to potential buyers in Hawaii, safety should be your top priority. Meet in a public place like a shopping center parking lot during the daytime. Ask buyers to drive to you if meeting at your home. Inform someone where you’ll be and consider having a friend come along.

Sadly, craigslist scams have happened in Hawaii when sellers met supposed buyers at remote locations.

Meet in Public Places

To prevent potentially dangerous situations, insist on meeting interested buyers in safe, public locations. Well-lit parking lots at malls, grocery stores, or parks are ideal spots during daylight hours. Let buyers know meeting at your home is not an option for a first showing.

If you do allow a test drive from your home, be sure another person is there with you.

Go on Test Drives Together

While it may seem innocent enough to allow an interested party to take your car for a solo test drive, it’s strongly advised you go along for rides. Be upfront in your ad or initial emails or texts that you either drive or ride along on drives.

Not only is it a safety measure but it allows you to point out features and answer questions on the spot. If buyers resist an accompanied test drive or it gives you an uneasy feeling, politely decline moving forward.

Completing the Transaction

Paperwork Needed for Sale

When selling a car in Hawaii, there are several key paperwork items you’ll need to legally transfer ownership. First, you must have the car’s title properly signed and dated by the seller. Make sure the odometer section showing the vehicle’s mileage is also filled out.

In addition, you’ll need to complete a bill of sale documenting the details of the transaction, including the purchase price, vehicle identification number (VIN), make/model, etc. This serves as proof you purchased the car.

Finally, new registration paperwork and payment of fees will be required to get license plates transferred into the buyer’s name.

Accepting Payment Securely

Care should be taken when accepting payment for a car sale to prevent fraud or disputes. Accepting a personal check involves some risk unless you wait until it fully clears before releasing the car and title. Money orders or cashier’s checks provide more security.

You may verify funds availability by calling the issuing bank. Of course, accepting cash eliminates issues receiving payment, but brings other safety concerns requiring precautions when making the hand off.

Using an escrow service through your bank or a website like is the most secure option, holding the buyer’s funds until the sale’s terms are executed.

Transferring Title

To legally transfer your car’s ownership when selling it in Hawaii, certain steps must be followed. Within 30 days after the sale date, submit your endorsed title, bill of sale, new registration form, and fees to the county’s DMV to record the transfer into the buyer’s name.

Per Hawaii’s Department of Transportation website, you may be eligible for a seller’s transfer exemption avoiding the weight tax. Your buyer will need to provide valid insurance and pass vehicle inspection requirements before new plates and registration can be issued in their name, so coordinate timing accordingly.


Selling a car yourself in Hawaii can take some extra steps compared to other states, but being prepared with the knowledge in this guide will set you up for success.

Focus first on properly preparing your vehicle so you can accurately price it. Then market it effectively across online and local channels. When meeting interested buyers, prioritize safety and make sure to meet only at public locations.

Finally, complete the sale by securing payment, signing over the title, and submitting the paperwork to the DMV.

If at any time you feel overwhelmed navigating the process, don’t hesitate to enlist the help of a trusted mechanic, DMV representative, or third party facilitator. With the right preparation and connections, you can smoothly handle a private party car sale in Hawaii.

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