What to Do After Buying a Used Car

toy car. article title: What to do after buying a used car

There’s a lot you have to do when preparing to buy a used car. First, you have to do your research on the right car for you. Then you have to locate your used car of choice, get pre-approved financing, discuss the vehicle with the salesperson at the dealership or the private seller, test drive the car, and have it inspected by a trusted mechanic

However, your to-do list doesn’t end there. Once you sign on the dotted line, you’ll have a handful of other necessary items to check off. Consider this your post-used car buying guide. Keep reading to learn more!

You bought a used car, now what?

Whether you buy a used car from a dealership or a private seller, you’ll still need to take certain steps to ensure you’re in the clear to legally and successfully drive away. For example, there’s paperwork to secure, fluid changes to be had, and other odds and ends to round off.

So, if you plan to buy a used car in the near future, make sure you also plan to do the following:

three question marks
big stack of paperwork

1. Take care of the paperwork

When we say paperwork, we’re talking about the following:
  • The title
  • Temporary tags
  • Registration
  • Bill of sale

All of this paperwork, especially the title and registration are super important. You won’t be able to legally drive your new (used) car unless it’s properly registered with the title in your name. You’ll need to register your car with the DMV, which will require not only the title but possibly a completed emissions test, safety inspection, several forms of ID, proof of insurance, and proof of address.

If you’re buying the car through a dealership, they’ll may help you handle all the paperwork. If you go through a private seller, you’ll need to complete some paperwork at your local DMV or tag agent. You may also need to pay a visit to your local county tax office to properly transfer ownership.

You’ll need your bill of sale to officially register the car. The bill of sale is your receipt, which displays the purchase price, the buyer’s name, the seller’s name, and any taxes, fees, and other terms involved in the sale.

Lastly, a dealership may issue you temporary tags that give you time to register your recently purchased vehicle. However, if you purchase the car from a private seller, you’ll need to get your tags or temporary permit from your tag agent or DMV pretty quickly.

2. Figure out the sales tax

Once again, if you purchase your car from the dealership the sales tax will most likely be included in your final bill of sale. If you purchase from a private seller, you’ll need to handle the sales tax on your own.

To calculate what the sales tax will be on your used car, you can contact your local DMV or state website. Most states require you to pay the sales tax amount due upon registration of the vehicle.

Taxes in a hand
shield with a check next to a car

3. Purchase car insurance

You can’t drive your car without insurance. Not even from the dealer’s lot or the private seller’s house to the DMV. At least not legally, anyway.

When it comes to insuring your used car, you’ll want to get in touch with the insurance company before making the purchase. If you have the car’s VIN, you can give it to your insurer to get your plan set up and ready to go as soon as you have your new keys in hand.

You’ll also want to make sure that you budget for your insurance costs and ongoing maintenance of your vehicle. If you fail to pay your monthly premium, your insurance coverage can be canceled and you won’t be able to drive your car.

4. Bring the car to a trusted mechanic for maintenance

You always want to make sure you have the car inspected by an independent mechanic before exchanging cash for ownership. This should be done regardless of whether you go to the dealer or private seller and neither should take issue with this step.

Of course, having your used car inspected is one thing. You’ll want to head back to your mechanic after purchasing to have them perform the beginning of your routine maintenance.

cartoon mechanic leaning on a huge wrench
This would include having them check your filters, fluids, brakes, tires, etc, and giving the car a tune-up if needed. If you purchase through Motobyo, your independent inspection is completed pre-sale, taking this one off of your list.
information book

5. Read through the owner’s manual

Most people completely disregard the owner’s manual for their car. Don’t be one of those people. It’s important to get a basic understanding of how your car operates between its features and other technological aspects.

You’ll also want to learn about the required gas grade and ideal tire pressure as well as the dashboard lights and so on. The owner’s manual will also give you a full maintenance schedule to keep up with, which is important for the upkeep of your car — especially if you plan to trade it in or resell it later.

6. Keep an eye out for recalls

Manufacturers may issue recalls for safety items or material defects at any time. Recall notifications tend to come by mail, but that can only happen after you’ve registered the vehicle with your state or with the manufacturer’s customer care team. If you purchased your vehicle recently and have not done this yet, you probably won’t get the message.

recall sign
Luckily, you can check with the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) website periodically to find recalls. If your make and model does turn up a recall, be sure to have recall work done immediately for your safety.

Take the hassle out of buying a used car

happy person

Buying a used car doesn’t have to be a long and drawn-out process. In fact, here at Motobyo, we make sure that it isn’t. No matter if you’re buying or selling, we have both buyers’ tools and sellers’ tools typically reserved for car dealerships to ensure the most seamless and reliable transactions possible.

If you’re in the market for a used car, check out what we have to offer in our online auctions today.