When buying a car, you want to shop around so you can find exactly what you’re looking for at the right price. Sometimes, this means shopping out of state for the car you want, whether it’s right across your state’s border or even farther away. Whether it’s because you found a great deal on just the car you wanted, or because you’re looking for a rare car and finally found it, sometimes buying a car out of state is the best option. If you're buying from a private seller, make sure to follow our steps on how to buy a car from a private seller.
Buying a car out of state can pose additional challenges, though. We’ve put together a list of five things you need to know before you make that out-of-state purchase for your next ride. Here’s what to consider before buying a car out of state.
1. You want the car to be looked at before purchasing it
It’s recommended that you never buy a car sight unseen. But whether or not you’re planning on seeing the car or not before buying it, you should have the car checked out by a mechanic, especially if it’s an older or used car. A mechanic can tell you any problems the car might have currently, or what could possibly go wrong down the road based on the car’s current condition.
You can also ask the owner for any service records about previous work that’s been done to the car. Additionally, you should take the car for a test drive and see how the car feels for yourself before you make a purchase. Some insurance companies, like AAA, will provide you an approved mechanic to perform the inspection.
2. Check the car’s registration and pink slip
If you’re buying from an individual and not a dealership, you want to make sure you’re going through the process legally. Check that the registration for the car is updated and the name on the registration matches the name of the person selling you the car. In most states, it’s not legal to sell a car if it’s not registered under your name. Ask for the title of the car, also known as the pink slip, to prove that the person has the legal authority to sell the car.
3. You’ll have to pay your state’s taxes on it
If you’re buying a car out of state from either a dealer or an individual, you’ll have to pay whatever sales tax your state charges on top of what you paid for the car in order to be able to register it. You can check in at your local department of motor vehicles to see how much you’ll have to pay. If you buy from a dealership, they may be able to take the tax you’ll need to pay there and get it to your home state.
4. Make sure your car is covered when you’re bringing it home
Whether or not you’re going to be driving the car home yourself, you’ll want to know that its covered in the event your car is damaged. Call your car insurance company when you buy the car or before you plan on going if you’ve already purchased it and are going to pick it up. Most insurance companies will have about a four day grace period where your current policy will cover you if you’re driving home. If your car is being shipped to you, the shipping company will have insurance, but you should still check with your insurance agent or company to be sure your policy covers anything that the company’s insurance may not.
5. Registering your car might be tricky
If you’re buying from a dealership, they’ll most likely give you temporary plates so you’re able to legally drive home and have time to get the car registered. If you’re buying from a private seller, you could try to register your car before you go to pick it up, as long as you have the title and inspection. However, that would only work if you were absolutely sure you wanted that car and were prepared to buy before seeing it. If that won’t work for you, you can go to most local DMVs after purchasing and get temporary tags for your car as long as you have a title. Some states have a grace period for driving without a registration if you’re driving straight to your cars place of storage in order to get it registered, but some states don’t.
Although buying a car out of state can be more difficult, it expands your options when you’re car shopping. If you only looked in your home state for cars, you might miss out on a great car at a great price just across your state’s border. It seems complicated, but as long as you take the proper precautions and steps when buying a car out of state, you could end up with your perfect car. When you’re shopping around for insurance for your newly purchased car, see which companies consumers rated as the top car insurance companies.
Summary: 5 things to know when buying a car out of state
- You want the car to be looked at before purchasing it
- Check the car’s registration and pink slip
- You’ll have to pay your state’s taxes on it
- Make sure your car is covered when you’re bringing it home
- Registering your car might be tricky
The content on this site is offered only as a public service to the web community and does not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. This site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an insurance company or an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. You should always consult a suitably qualified attorney regarding any specific legal problem or matter. The comments and opinions expressed on this site are of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the insurance company or any individual attorney.