Buying a car out of state might be a little more effort than buying a car close by, but it can often reap great rewards. Find out the essential steps you need to take to buy a car out of state in 2019.
Why Buy a Car Out of State?
Sometimes buying a car out of state can save a lot of money. It can save you so much in fact that it might just be worth the drive. This is especially true if you live on or close to the border of another state.
One great reason to buy a car out of state is if you find a nearby dealership who is offering a knockout deal on a particular vehicle or a special for first-time customers. This can potentially help you save a lot of money if dealerships in your area aren't running similar deals.
Another good reason to buy a car out of state is if you have your heart set on a specific make and model. If the car you want is difficult to find or you have found it at a significantly cheaper price point, then it might be worth the trouble of buying it out of state.
Once you've decided that it's worth buying a car out of state, it's important to be prepared for some of the common pitfalls and obstacles you may face. Being prepared is key.
What to Know Before Buying a Car Out of State
While buying a car out of state can be beneficial, it also introduces a number of other factors to be aware of.
Test drive the car: Generally speaking, you should be able to visit and test drive the car you want to purchase. Never purchase a vehicle sight-unseen. You need to ensure that the car is as-advertised and is in working order. It can be a lot easier to get scammed if you're purchasing a car out of state without seeing it first. Take the vehicle to a mechanic who can verify that it doesn't have any major problems. You may get a great deal on the car, but you don't want to end up paying more for major repairs down the road.
Remember the trip home: If you end up purchasing the vehicle, you also want to consider the drive home. Many dealerships will give you a temporary registration sticker to use for your drive home. If you're buying from a private seller, you may get pulled over on your way home for not having a license plate if you purchased in a state that does not allow transfer of plates. At a minimum, make sure you have the title of the vehicle and proof of insurance. This will help you prove that the car belongs to you if you get pulled over. Call your insurance company before making the sale to ensure that you are covered in this scenario.
How to Buy a Car Out of State: 5 Tips
Buying a car out of state can be a challenge, but the benefits can be worth it. Follow these simple steps to ensure that your vehicle purchase goes as smoothly as possible.
1. Ensure the Car Is Available
Before you make any big out-of-state treks to potentially buy a car, make sure that you're not making the trip for nothing. If you see a car you that you know you want online, check in with the dealer or private seller via email, phone, or text before making a big drive. Ask preliminary questions before going to see the car. You want to be absolutely sure that this is the car you want. If you're unsure, it may be better to stick to local options.
2. Check the Vehicle's Safety
Keep in mind your state's safety regulations when purchasing an out-of-state vehicle. Some states may require that you have a safety inspection done to ensure that the car is road-worthy. Before you make your purchase, make sure that the brake lights, seat belts, steering system, and other essential components of the car work. This won't just save you extra time and money when it's time to get your car inspected, but it will also keep you safe.
3. Consider Emissions
Your registration process will be delayed if your state requires emissions tests. If you can, get proof that the car passed its last emission test so you know what you're getting yourself into. A newer vehicle may not require an emissions test, but these standards change by state and even by county. It's important to familiarize yourself with your area's emissions regulations before committing to a vehicle.
4. Live in California? Know the Standards
If you're from California, emissions can be tricky. You will need to provide proof that the vehicle meets the California Air Resources Board's requirements or have it modified to meet their standard. Though some of these modifications are relatively simple, many of them can be expensive. If you plan to buy a vehicle that doesn't meet these requirements, be sure to find out what modifications would be needed. These might negate any savings you might achieve from buying your car out of state.
5. Get Your Title and Registration
Getting your title and registration in order is an easy process if you're buying your car from an out-of-state dealership. They will usually help you with all of the necessary paperwork. However, if you are buying your car from a private seller, you will have to handle the paperwork on your own. The seller should provide a signed title and bill of sale. This will give you proof of ownership for your drive home, as well as your trip to the DMV to get proper license and registration. You will need to go to the DMV within a certain amount of time -- usually anywhere between 30 to 60 days -- to acquire these essential documents. It's important to familiarize yourself with the regulations in your specific state.
Taxes When Buying a Car Out of State
If you are hoping to save some tax dollars by buying your car out of state, think again. You will be required to pay the sales tax rate from your home state. Typically, if you are buying your car from a private seller, the sales taxes will be collected after the actual sale. You will be required to provide the money before you register the vehicle and get a title. If you purchase your vehicle at a dealership, they will likely collect their state's taxes on the spot and you will be required to make up the difference when you visit the DMV at home.