Cars can be like shoes; shopping for them may involve trying them on and seeing how they fit. Other times, your previous test drives have informed your decision, and all you really need to choose now is the color. And sometimes, the vehicle that’s just right for you means buying a car out of state.
You might have questions at this point. That’s normal. There are certainly things involved in buying a car from another state that you need to be aware of, but we’ll do what we can to give you some direction and soften the blow.
5 Tips on how to buy a car out of state
- Shop. Seems simple, right? Just treat the selection of vehicles at dealerships that are in a neighboring state the same as you would the ones that are in your own hometown. Shop for the vehicle that fits your needs and your budget. Communicate with the dealer and get as much information as you can so that you don’t waste a long drive.
- Use the right tools. Websites that dealers use to inform customers of what they have for sale are a great place to conveniently start your search. When searching sites like Autotrader and Cars.com, use a search filter that uses “range” or “radius” from your home ZIP code to find nearby dealerships, even across state lines. (Keep in mind that the distances used in these filters are literally the radius from a point on a digital map and not a measure of driving distance.)
- Check for state certifications. Some states impose their own vehicle standards, usually in reference to emissions. Therefore, some cars are made for use in some states, while others of the same model may not meet the same standards. Always check with the dealer to confirm that the vehicle you’re considering can be legally registered in your home state. States that have adopted such standards are sometimes referred to as “CARB states,” since the California Air Resources Board (CARB) publishes standards that such states use as a reference.
- These states include California, Arizona, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.
- Know the tax. When you buy, make sure that the dealer knows you are buying a car out of state. Once you have filled out the necessary paperwork, you just pay the sales tax on your vehicle when you register it in your home state.
- What if you’re buying from a private seller? Dealers may help you negotiate some of the paperwork when buying a car out of state, but if you’re purchasing from a private party then there is more to do yourself. Check out the requirements for your particular state beforehand.
If the vehicle you have your heart set on is across the state border, fear not. Shopping can still be easy, if you’re informed.
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