how to buy and register a used car

Learn about fees, applications and process to replace a lost title.
Know what’s needed in order to register, buy or sell salvage vehicles.
Find your nearest DMV Branch location, hours of operation and services.
DMV.org is a privately owned website that is not owned or operated by any state government agency.
From documents to fees to what you need to float your boat.

Spending some serious time at this stage of the process is important to making an informed decision on what type of car you’ll be narrowing your search for, so don’t skimp on the time you dedicate toward your future vehicle.
Few, if any, individual sellers offer any type of after sale warranty, while dealers cars range from "as is" to limited warranties to certified vehicles that come with extended warranties.
In addition to deciding which type of vehicle you want, you should also write up a list of car options you simply can’t live without.
Now that you have three or four models of used cars in mind, it is time to do some serious research.
Typing in "used car" into a search engine will bring up reams of sites that will show cars for sale, or articles on a wide variety of techniques to help you buy a car.
The type of information you will receive is: if the car has a clear title; if the car has been salvaged; if the car has been involved in a serious accident; how many times the car has been sold; the original sale date; and if there have been any recalls for that car.
After you have saved up enough money to cover the price range of the used car you have in mind, be sure to factor in the expenses that you may not have considered yet such as title transfer and registration fees, and in some states, smog or emissions certification.
It may also be helpful to write up a second list of options that would be nice to have if you happen to run into a vehicle that comes equipped with those features, but that would not be a deal breaker should they not be included.
Take a look at the general types of vehicles currently for sale, what features are available on what makes and models, and what kinds of vehicles you can afford.
Most dealers of pre-owned cars offer car financing (their own or through other lending institutions), or you can pre-arrange your own financing through your bank or credit union before ever talking to a dealer.
After you buy a car, you’ll need to register it with your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), Secretary of State (SOS), Department of Revenue (DOR), Motor Vehicle Division (MVD), or other local entity that sets vehicle regulations in your state.
You may find that your state offers a vehicle registration fee calculator to make it easy to determine your total registration cost.
When you’re in the market to buy a car, you can expect that there will be some paperwork and forms to fill out in order to get the vehicle correctly documented and ready for the road.
Be sure that you know what paperwork is required so your transaction goes as smoothly as possible.
Buying from a curbstoner increases your risk of not being able to get the vehicle title transferred, or of getting a car which has been previously wrecked or which has a "rolled back" odometer.
If the lender, also known as the holder, still has the title, you’ll need to have the lender’s name and address handy when you go to the DMV.
Transferring a title when you buy or sell a car and registering your new vehicle is an exercise in paperwork, with the process and requirements varying by state.
You often can download and print out the forms required for registering title transfers or registering the car online, allowing you to fill in everything before you get to the DMV or county office.
You and the seller can handle the title transfer transaction on your own by signing the appropriate sections on the back of the title.
If you buy a used car from a private seller, however, you’ll need to have the seller sign the title over to you.
Your DMV will probably require you to fill out a form so they can record the title transfer and reissue the title in your name.
Once the title is transferred, you need to go down to the DMV to register the transfer.
(%) Year householder moved into unit – Moved in 1999 to March 2000 (%) Year householder moved into unit – Moved in 1995 to 1998 (%) Year householder moved into unit – Moved in 1990 to 1994 (%) Year householder moved into unit – Moved in 1980 to 1989 (%) Year householder moved into unit – Moved in 1970 to 1979 (%) Year householder moved into unit – Moved in 1969 or earlier (%) Means of transportation to work – Drove car alone (%) Means of transportation to work – Carpooled (%) Means of transportation to work – Public transportation (%) Means of transportation to work – Bus or trolley bus (%) Means of transportation to work – Streetcar or trolley car (%) Means of transportation to work – Subway or elevated (%) Means of transportation to work – Railroad (%) Means of transportation to work – Ferryboat (%) Means of transportation to work – Taxicab (%) Means of transportation to work – Motorcycle (%) Means of transportation to work – Bicycle (%) Means of transportation to work – Walked (%) Means of transportation to work – Other means (%) Working at home (%) Industry diversity Common Industries – Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, and mining (%) Common Industries – Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (%) Common Industries – Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction (%) Common Industries – Construction (%) Common Industries – Manufacturing (%) Common Industries – Wholesale trade (%) Common Industries – Retail trade (%) Common Industries – Transportation and warehousing, and utilities (%) Common Industries – Transportation and warehousing (%) Common Industries – Utilities (%) Common Industries – Information (%) Common Industries – Finance and insurance, and and rental and leasing (%) Common Industries – Finance and insurance (%) Common Industries – and rental and leasing (%) Common Industries – Professional, scientific, and management, and administrative and waste management services (%) Common Industries – Professional, scientific, and technical services (%) Common Industries – Management of companies and enterprises (%) Common Industries – Administrative and support and waste management services (%) Common Industries – Educational services, and health care and social assistance (%) Common Industries – Educational services (%) Common Industries – Health care and social assistance (%) Common Industries – Arts, entertainment, and recreation, and accommodation and food services (%) Common Industries – Arts, entertainment, and recreation (%) Common Industries – Accommodation and food services (%) Common Industries – Other services, except public administration (%) Common Industries – Public administration (%) Occupation diversity Common Occupations – Management, professional, and related occupations (%) Common Occupations – Management, business, and financial occupations (%) Common Occupations – Management occupations (%) Common Occupations – Business and financial operations occupations (%) Common Occupations – Professional and related occupations (%) Common Occupations – Computer and mathematical occupations (%) Common Occupations – Architecture and engineering occupations (%) Common Occupations – Life, physical, and social science occupations (%) Common Occupations – Community and social services occupations (%) Common Occupations – Legal occupations (%) Common Occupations – Education, training, and library occupations (%) Common Occupations – Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations (%) Common Occupations – Healthcare practitioner and technical occupations (%) Common Occupations – Health diagnosing and treating practitioners and other technical occupations (%) Common Occupations – Health technologists and technicians (%) Common Occupations – Service occupations (%) Common Occupations – Healthcare support occupations (%) Common Occupations – Protective service occupations (%) Common Occupations – Fire fighting and prevention, and other protective service workers(%) Common Occupations – enforcement workers including supervisors (%) Common Occupations – Food preparation and serving related occupations (%) Common Occupations – Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations (%) Common Occupations – Personal care and service occupations (%) Common Occupations – Sales and office occupations (%) Common Occupations – Sales and related occupations (%) Common Occupations – Office and administrative support occupations (%) Common Occupations – Farming, fishing, and forestry occupations (%) Common Occupations – Construction, extraction, maintenance, and repair occupations (%) Common Occupations – Construction and extraction occupations (%) Common Occupations – Installation, maintenance, and repair occupations (%) Common Occupations – Production, transportation, and material moving occupations (%) Common Occupations – Production occupations (%) Common Occupations – Transportation and material moving occupations (%) Common Occupations – Supervisors, transportation and material moving workers(%) Common Occupations – Motor vehicle operators (%) Common Occupations – Material moving workers (%) People in Group quarters – Institutionalized population (%) People in Group quarters – Correctional institutions (%) People in Group quarters – Federal prisons and detention centers (%) People in Group quarters – Halfway houses (%) People in Group quarters – Local jails and other confinement facilities (including police lockups) (%) People in Group quarters – Military disciplinary barracks (%) People in Group quarters – State prisons (%) People in Group quarters – Other types of correctional institutions (%) People in Group quarters – Nursing homes (%) People in Group quarters – Hospitals/wards, hospices, and schools for the handicapped (%) People in Group quarters – Hospitals/wards and hospices for chronically ill (%) People in Group quarters – Hospices or homes for chronically ill (%) People in Group quarters – Military hospitals or wards for chronically ill (%) People in Group quarters – Other hospitals or wards for chronically ill (%) People in Group quarters – Hospitals or wards for drug/alcohol abuse (%) People in Group quarters – Mental (Psychiatric) hospitals or wards (%) People in Group quarters – Schools, hospitals, or wards for the mentally retarded (%) People in Group quarters – Schools, hospitals, or wards for the physically handicapped (%) People in Group quarters – Institutions for the deaf (%) People in Group quarters – Institutions for the blind (%) People in Group quarters – Orthopedic wards and institutions for the physically handicapped (%) People in Group quarters – Wards in general hospitals for patients who have no usual home elsewhere (%) People in Group quarters – Wards in military hospitals for patients who have no usual home elsewhere (%) People in Group quarters – Juvenile institutions (%) People in Group quarters – Long-term care (%) People in Group quarters – Homes for abused, dependent, and neglected children (%) People in Group quarters – Residential treatment centers for emotionally disturbed children (%) People in Group quarters – Training schools for juvenile delinquents (%) People in Group quarters – Short-term care, detention or diagnostic centers for delinquent children (%) People in Group quarters – Type of juvenile institution unknown (%) People in Group quarters – Noninstitutionalized population (%) People in Group quarters – College dormitories (includes college quarters off campus) (%) People in Group quarters – Military quarters (%) People in Group quarters – On base (%) People in Group quarters – Barracks, unaccompanied personnel housing (UPH), (Enlisted/Officer) (%) People in Group quarters – Transient quarters for temporary residents (%) People in Group quarters – Military ships (%) People in Group quarters – Group homes (%) People in Group quarters – Homes or halfway houses for drug/alcohol abuse (%) People in Group quarters – Homes for the mentally ill (%) People in Group quarters – Homes for the mentally retarded (%) People in Group quarters – Homes for the physically handicapped (%) People in Group quarters – Other group homes (%) People in Group quarters – Religious group quarters (%) People in Group quarters – Dormitories (%) People in Group quarters – Agriculture workers’ dormitories on farms (%) People in Group quarters – Job Corps and vocational training facilities (%) People in Group quarters – Other workers’ dormitories (%) People in Group quarters – Crews of maritime vessels (%) People in Group quarters – Other nonhousehold living situations (%) People in Group quarters – Other noninstitutional group quarters (%) Density of houses Urban houses (%) Rural houses (%) Residents speaking English at home (%) Residents speaking English at home – Born in the United States (%) Residents speaking English at home – Native, born elsewhere (%) Residents speaking English at home – Foreign born (%) Residents speaking Spanish at home (%) Residents speaking Spanish at home – Born in the United States (%) Residents speaking Spanish at home – Native, born elsewhere (%) Residents speaking Spanish at home – Foreign born (%) Residents speaking other language at home (%) Residents speaking other language at home – Born in the United States (%) Residents speaking other language at home – Native, born elsewhere (%) Residents speaking other language at home – Foreign born (%) Class of Workers – Employee of private company (%) Class of Workers – Self-employed in own incorporated business (%) Class of Workers – Private not-for-profit wage and salary workers (%) Class of Workers – Local government workers (%) Class of Workers – State government workers (%) Class of Workers – Federal government workers (%) Class of Workers – Self-employed workers in own not incorporated business and Unpaid family workers (%) House heating fuel used in houses and condos – Utility gas (%) House heating fuel used in houses and condos – Bottled, tank, or LP gas (%) House heating fuel used in houses and condos – Electricity (%) House heating fuel used in houses and condos – Fuel oil, kerosene, etc.
To give the vehicle as a in Maryland it must be already titled in the state of Maryland.  You must submit the Certification (form # VR-103) with the Certificate of Title.
The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration can provide you with the basic title information showing the history of the vehicle while it has been registered in Maryland.
If the vehicle is currently registered out-of-state or at some time has been registered in a different state, you will need to contact that state’s department of motor vehicles to obtain the vehicle’s history.
Once the Maryland Salvage Certificate has been issued, the owner can apply for and obtain a new title for the vehicle.
If applying for registration, the vehicle must undergo a Maryland Salvage Inspection, and then a Maryland Safety Inspection before registration plates may be issued.
If the vehicle has been salvaged and re-titled in another state it may not appear on the Maryland MVA vehicle history.
A vehicle that is titled in the state of Maryland and is transferred as a gift is tax exempt as long as the receiver meets the relationship requirements.
A vehicle that is given as a “gift” to a Maryland resident from out-of-state is not tax exempt unless the vehicle was previously titled and registered in Maryland and the relationship of the individuals meets our requirements.
In Maryland, anyone who wishes to re-title a salvaged vehicle is required to undergo a salvage inspection to prove that the vehicle is safe to drive.
If the vehicle you are interested in purchasing is a re-titled Maryland salvaged vehicle, it will appear on the MVA’s history report.
Each department of motor vehicles may require a variety of vehicle information to obtain the title history.
You may wish to trace a used vehicle’s title to obtain the vehicle’s history, and to confirm ownership of the vehicle and the odometer reading.
If you are buying a vehicle from an individual or the dealer is not handling the title work, ensure that Section A of the title has been completed, including the signature of the owner.
It is illegal to operate a motor vehicle without auto insurance in the U.S.  With most insurance agencies, you can purchase car insurance without a Social Security Number.
If you are buying a new vehicle from a dealer, the dealer may process the proper title work and submit paper work to DMV for processing.
After you purchase a vehicle and before taking it to the road, you need to follow the following steps in order to register your car.
You do not need a Social Security Number to title or register a car.
We’re offering services to replace lost driver license or ID cards, and provide vehicle and vessel documentation for individuals affected by the wildfires.
Find out how to transfer ownership of a new vehicle into your name after you buy it from a dealer or private party, or receive it as a gift.
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Then, once money has changed hands and the bank has been paid the balance of the loan, sign the title over to the buyer.
Essentially, the seller will need to make sure that the balance of the loan is paid off before the car is transferred to the buyer.
In most cases, this means you will have to get the title (often called the "pink slip") from the seller or possibly a bill of sale.
While the laws governing the sale of motor vehicles vary from state to state, the general outline of the deal is similar.
One way to deal with this situation is to conclude the sale at the bank where the title is held.
Banks are set up to facilitate this kind of sale, so you will need to check with the bank to learn exactly how to proceed.
While there are many small steps to closing a used car sale, the big picture is this: You need to obtain proof that the car was legally purchased and the amount of money that it cost.
Here, we cover the private-party-to-private-party sale in which the buyer needs to handle the paperwork themselves.
In addition to the Pennsylvania title you will need to provide several items to the agent to complete your title application.
Applicants are required to contact their lienholders prior to completing their MV-1 application to determine whether or not the lienholder will release the out of state title to the vehicle owner.
Please take a copy of your current Pennsylvania Drivers License or Pennsylvania Photo Identification Card.
Please take a copy of your current Pennsylvania Drivers License or Pennsylvania Photo Identification.
A copy of your current insurance identification card is required if registration is to be issued.
More information can be found on our How to Title and Register Your Out of State Vehicle fact sheet.
The buyer and seller should meet at the office of a notary public, tag service, or motor vehicle dealer to ensure the title application is completed correctly.
If you are a business or non-profit organization buying a car, please make sure you bring the acceptable identification requirements with you as well.
The following information will assist you with the proper procedures when buying a vehicle in Pennsylvania.
Some new cars lose 40 percent of their value in just the first year after purchase, so another pro of buying a used car would absolutely be that the used vehicle has already undergone that initial depreciation and, if you choose to resell it, is more likely to sell for the same price (or close to) what you paid for it if it’s kept in good condition.
Plus, buying a used vehicle means that you can search for cars that already have desirable features, such as a sun roof or power windows, without paying astronomical fees for them because of depreciation, which is a huge advantage.
CarFax is also an extremely helpful tool to take advantage of when it comes to buying a used car, as it’s a service which allows the user to search by a car’s VIN number and will then tell the user about that car’s history: whether or not it has been in any reported accidents, when the last oil change was, and any repairs that have been done on the vehicle.
When you complete the purchase of a used car, you must be given a certificate of ownership, called the "pink slip" by the dealer or previous owner; it must be signed by them, and your name indicated on it as the new owner.
Spend time looking at different cars and models, compare basic prices and added "option" costs, and get advice from experienced car buyers, not just from the salespeople.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) website has detailed and helpful information on purchasing a vehicle, how to follow the laws once you own a car in California, and much more.
Drivers of automobiles, motorcycles, and other motor vehicles have a financial and legal responsibility in case of an accident that involves injury or death, damage to another vehicle, or property.
Please refer to the Handbook for the State of California’s minimum legal requirements covering personal liability and property damage.
There are a variety of websites that provide a lot of helpful information about different vehicles and survey the level of customer satisfaction-some are free, some require subscription and fees.
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You may obtain a certified appraisal on the Texas State Comptroller’s “Used Motor Vehicle Certified Appraisal form” (form 14-128) and submit it when you apply for title, within 30 days of the sale date.
Seller: Again, check with your local motor vehicle authority on how to proceed with your license plates.
What you need to do is get clear proof you have cancelled it in case any questions arise – such as your buyer not properly registering the car at the time of purchase or tax officials trying to levy a bill against you.
Seller: You have to be in possession of your title and registration before you can complete the sale.
Buyer: Pending the inspection required by some states for used cars, you may be issued temporary plates for the used car you are buying.
You can check specific laws by going to DMV.org for links to your local motor vehicles department (or whatever your state authority is called).
It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what you need to do when completing a used car sale because the laws do vary from state to state.
Also, you need to make sure the vehicle identification number matches the registration and the used car you are buying.
Buyer: Closely inspect the title to make sure the mileage recorded corresponds realistically with the car being sold.
Don’t let the seller or buyer coerce you into a quick sale if you are not ready.
Plus, pressure in a sales transaction normally means you are being taken advantage of either by the buyer or the seller.
Bring them with you when you cancel the registration in case the motor vehicle authority does want them back.
Buyers: Most states will require you to pay the sales tax associated with a used car purchase at the time of registration.
Buyer: Make sure the seller has his or her registration and all accompanying documentation out of the car.
Elsewhere I have advice about inspecting a used car and test driving a used car if you are a buyer and preparing a used car for sale if you are the seller.
Do not expect the seller to allow you to use the plates currently on the car you are buying.
You might find important items that should be returned to the seller, including paperwork they need.
Also, states expect you to pay the fair market value for the car and not what is on the bill of sale unless you can demonstrate why the car is worth less than market value.
Seller: Determine that you are going to be free of liability for this vehicle once it leaves your driveway for the last time.
Once the title is signed over, it is going to be awfully difficult to get your vehicle back without a lot of legal hassles – especially if your car is quickly sold again.

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