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Buying a Car Out-of-State: The Complete How-to Guide

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Filed under Automotive, Automotive Help, Editorial

Buying a car isn’t exactly like splurging on a new pair of shoes or finally investing in that set of golf clubs. An automobile purchase can be a surprisingly time-intensive task, from securing an insurance quote to working out monthly payments. With these hours of test drives, pain-staking negotiations, and draining deliberations in mind, it’s easy for prospective buyers to become overwhelmed, especially when purchasing from local dealerships with limited inventory. 

While purchasing a car from out-of-state might seem unbearably complicated, expanding your car search outside of state lines gives you access to a broader range of makes and models that might be cheaper than the cars available at your local dealership. If you’re thinking about purchasing your next vehicle out-of-state, read on for five tips to handle the process like a pro.

Factor car shipping service cost into the total

Make sure you factor in car shipping costs from a company like Guardian Auto Transport ( before you stretch your budget to include that fancy stereo or that fun sport mode feature. A car shipping company can ensure that your vehicle arrives safely at the right scheduled time. Additionally, when making arrangements to ship your dream car, A1 Auto Transport suggests that you pick the type of transport that’s right for your vehicle. While most cars are open-carrier-friendly (and able to withstand the forces of air-borne rocks and hail pellets), splurging on enclosed-carrier shipping can keep your prized possession out of harm’s way.

This shipping option can shield your one-of-a-kind luxury vehicle from unexpected snowstorms and dislodged furniture formerly strapped to passing cars. So, reconsider your decision to cut corners and run the risk of wallet-draining dents and dings. 

Contact both DMVs

It’s essential to understand what your tax burden will look like after purchasing a car out-of-state. The DMV in your home state can give you a rough estimate of your tax burden post-vehicle-purchase. 

Though it may slip first-time buyers’ minds, it’s essential to contact the other DMV to determine how to pay for taxes and title fees after buying a new car in their state.

Make sure you meet emissions requirements

When buying a car out of state, the vehicle must meet your home state’s emissions standards regardless of whether it passed muster in the state of purchase. For example, for those drivers who live in California (a state notorious for its strict emissions standards), the car you ship in from Virginia will have to comply with your home state’s regulations.

Purchase insurance ahead of time

Getting a quote from your insurance agent before purchasing your out-of-state car can help you build a more accurate auto budget ahead of time. Additionally, contacting an insurance agent before you make your purchase can help speed up the process and verify your policy is ready to go before your new car finds its new home in your garage.

Remember to get the right documents from the seller

If you buy your car from a dealership, the dealer will typically confirm that you have the documents you need to register the vehicle in your home state. However, if you buy a car from a private seller, you will be responsible for collecting the right paperwork after the sale. Ensure the seller provides you with a signed title and bill of sale before you seal the deal.

Parting shot

While purchasing your next vehicle certainly won’t be as easy as finally splurging on that toaster oven you’ve been eyeing, there are ways to make the process of buying a car out-of-state significantly less stressful. From scheduling with a reliable car shipping service to double-checking that you’ve secured the correct documents from the seller, there are strategies you can employ to tackle your out-of-state vehicle purchase with confidence.


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