Buying a car out of state? here’s what you should know

(iSeeCars) – The microchip shortage has pushed up the prices of used cars and depleted inventory. Broadening your search is a smart way to help you find the car you want at an affordable price in today’s market. As a result, buying a car out of state may be your best option to save money. And given that car prices vary geographically, you may find yourself crossing state lines, even when the car buying landscape begins to freeze.

How do you buy a car out of state, and is it worth the hassle? We have important answers to help you navigate the process of buying a car in a different state from a dealer or private seller.

Why should you consider buying an out-of-state car?

Similar to the price of used cars, the price of a new vehicle can also vary across state lines. Manufacturer incentives can vary regionally, so you may get a better new car deal in a different state. Additionally, if you want a specific in-demand model or trim, it may just be in stock in another state. The same goes for classic or antique cars.

Just as the price may vary from state to state, some cars are more in supply from state to state. For example, some electric vehicles are issued only in certain states that have adopted the zero-emissions vehicle (ZEV) program. These states may also have a high inventory of used hybrid and electric vehicles, increasing the chances of getting a good deal.

The popularity of the vehicle may also vary from state to state. For example, four-wheel drive isn’t necessary in the southern states with temperate climates, so you may get a better deal on an all-weather vehicle in one of those states than in the Northeast. Conversely, you may be able to find a better deal on a convertible in a state with a harsher climate, as they are less in demand.

Finally, buying a car from a neighboring state presents fewer barriers than buying a car across the country. When determining vehicle savings, be sure to take travel and lodging costs into account. Also, you can walk to the dealership and realize that the car is not for you. If you’re traveling a great distance to see a used car, make sure you do your due diligence to make sure it’s worth the trip.

how to buy a car out of state

Now that we have covered why it is advisable to buy a car out of state, here are the important steps you should follow:

Get Vehicle History Report

If you are buying a used car, you should always ask for a vehicle history report, whether in your home state or across the state line. A history report such as CARFAX or AutoCheck will give detailed information about the previous owner and any problems with the car (such as accidents, recalls, etc.) while in another state. It will also provide accurate odometer readings. Understanding the history of a used vehicle will help buyers determine the condition of the vehicle when deciding whether or not it is a smart purchase.

Online research tools such as iSeeCars Free VIN Check may provide a free CARFAX or AutoCheck report as part of their comprehensive VIN Check tool. The iSeeCars VIN Check Report will complement the Vehicle History Report with additional, important information that a buyer should know before buying a used car. Simply enter the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on iSeeCars VIN Check Tool to access comprehensive analysis.

get vehicle inspection

This is another important step in buying any used car. You should arrange for a vehicle inspection by an independent local mechanic that you choose and pay for. You can take the car to a mechanic during your test drive. (See our What to Look for When Buying a Used Car for more tips on getting the most out of your test drive.) This will provide assurance that the car is mechanically sound and has a good fit and finish. The added cost of a mechanical inspection is a good investment compared to the hassle and hassle of figuring out what to do with a problem car that you didn’t see before you bought it.

As part of the inspection, you should ask whether it meets the emissions standards of your home state.

Keep in mind that some states have stricter emissions requirements than others.

pay the correct sales tax

If you buy a car from a dealer in another state, the dealer will usually collect your sales tax and send it to your state’s tax collector. Dealers probably collect the required amount for dealership status, so you’ll have to pay the difference if your home state’s taxes are higher. When the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state registers your new vehicle, they will check the bill of sale to make sure you have paid the correct sales tax. Make sure you have a bill of sale when you register at your local DMV. Keep in mind that sales tax is collected for the state of residence, so buying a car in a state with a low sales tax won’t give you tax savings.

how to drive a car home

The dealer or seller will have you sign the title and give you a temporary registration tag so that you can drive the vehicle in your home state. If you buy from a private party, you will receive a signed title and bill of sale proving that you are the current owner. Since you will not have a license plate on the car, you may be stopped by law enforcement on the way home. Show them your ID, and the car’s title and bill of sale. Some states will allow you to drive an unregistered car for a few days with a temporary travel permit, which will cover you until you can get the car registered. Be sure to check the rules in your state to determine the best course of action.

Get a State Inspection

In most states, an emissions test or smog test is required to register a car. You may also need to have an odometer and safety test. Be sure to check your state DMV website to see what is required.

register car

You will have a certain number of days to register the car at your local DMV. Upon registration, you will receive a license plate and a new title in your home state. To get your car registered, you’ll need out-of-state title, proper identification, proof of address and proof of insurance.

If the vehicle has salvage title or any other branded title, make sure you understand your state’s requirements before finalizing the vehicle purchase.

get car insurance

Make sure the car is insured. Do not attempt to take an out-of-state car home without first calling your insurance company and getting it insured. Accidents happen and you don’t want to take the chance of being exposed. Generally, it will be a matter of providing the year, make, model and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) of the car to your insurance agent. The whole process takes a few minutes and can be handled while you’re at the dealership, waiting for the sales paperwork to go through.

Some insurance companies cover new vehicle purchases for a grace period before you add the car to your policy. However, if you are financing a vehicle, your lender may require you to have specific insurance coverage before the loan can be issued. And some states will require dealers to verify vehicle insurance as part of the purchase process.

ground level:

Buying a new or used vehicle is a complicated process, and buying a vehicle in a different state can add another layer of complexity. However, it can be worth the savings if you’re willing to take the extra step.

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