Buying a car out of state

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Buying a vehicle today is quite different from how it used to be. Gone are the days of flipping through the local auto trader magazine or going from dealership to dealership getting hassled by overeager salespeople. Nowadays, you can jump online from the comfort of home and choose from several websites that help you choose the exact model of car, truck or SUV you want.

This means you can not only check to see what’s in your local area, but you can also search nationwide – even internationally to find what you’re looking for. Obviously, this is great. It means you get the power of choice and the ability to be specific about what you want.

But if you’re buying a car from out of state, there can be some pitfalls that not a lot of people account for, and some extra steps that may end up costing you in the end. No matter what you decide to do, if you follow some of these necessary steps, everything will likely work out.

  1. Make sure to get a vehicle history report

Regardless of where you buy a car, you should get a vehicle history report from a company like Carfax. This is even more important when you’re considering an out-of-state vehicle purchase. These kinds of reports can let you know if there are any issues with the car that need to be accounted for before you move forward. For example, if there’s a lien listed on the report or an open recall for something on the vehicle, you want to get these issues resolved before you take ownership.

  1. Have the car inspected before making any decision

Even if the car is in another state, this is an important step to make sure you don’t get a lemon. You can call a local mechanic and arrange for them to test drive and inspect the car for you before you make any decision about whether or not to purchase the vehicle. If they discover an issue with the vehicle, you may even have some leverage to haggle on price, depending on what it is.

While some online auto sellers offer free return policies waiting to get the car inspected after it’s delivered and having to return it and start over is a hassle that could be avoided with a simple pre-purchase inspection.

  1. Pay all appropriate taxes

Some states, like Delaware, Alaska, and Oregon, don’t charge sales tax on vehicles. Unfortunately, the rules say that you must pay all applicable taxes based on the state in which you live. So if your state requires sales tax, you’re going to have to fork it over before you register the vehicle. And while online sellers usually account for this and simply pass the fees on to you, it’s important to do your homework and make sure you don’t owe anything when you make your purchase.

  1. Different states mean different inspection requirements

Make sure you visit your state’s Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) website and pull up the details on your state’s specific safety, emissions, and/or odometer inspection requirements. Just because a car can pass inspection in Michigan doesn’t mean it’ll also pass in another state with more stringent regulations, like California.

  1. Title and Registration

Additionally, after you've purchased the car, you'll probably have to visit the DMV in person to take care of your paperwork and get your official title and registration. Make sure you know exactly what documentation and forms of identification you’ll need before you head to the DMV.

Regardless of when the previous state’s registration expires, you’ll still have to pay for a new title and registration in your own state. Do a little homework to find out how long you have before the new state requires that the vehicle is registered.

The same is true with titles – each state has different rules when it comes to how long you have and how to get a title for the vehicle. Making sure the car is titled correctly is important, as it can have a big impact on financing and insurance eligibility and pricing.

Some states make the process easier than others, allowing you to handle some or all of the process online or through the mail. And once again, a franchised dealership or online seller may assist you with some parts of the process.

  1. Make sure the vehicle is properly insured

Some states require you to have insurance on any vehicle, while others do not. Contact your insurance company and explain the situation. You may be able to use your current policy for a brief time before switching to a new one. Your insurance company may also offer a grace period from the time of purchase to when you take possession of the vehicle.

  1. You may have to get that car to your driveway

One key thing to keep in mind when buying a car from out of town is that you may have to get it home somehow. Online sellers sometimes include delivery in the sale, but if not, or if you buy from a private seller, you’re going to have to either transport it yourself.

For most, the idea of driving the new vehicle home probably doesn’t sound like the easiest or the most cost-effective way to get it home. It also kind of takes the convenience out of buying a car online.

The simplest and cheapest way to get your new vehicle is to trust a reputable auto shipping company like CarsArrive Auto Relocation to get it to your door. You can check out our shipping options and start the quote process anytime.

And if you have any questions, feel free to call us at 855.736.7429.

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