What to Do After Buying a Used Car

the steps to take after buying a car vehicle

After you’ve taken the test drive, fallen in love, and committed to a new car, there’s still some work to be done. Like any close relationship, a new car will require ongoing effort.

Learn what to do after buying a used car before buying a used car. It’s a good idea to get familiar with all of the state taxes, titling, registration, inspection, and insurance fees to help budget the final cost.

In addition to the DMV, financing, and insurance paperwork, you will want to read the owner’s manual and take the car in for a second inspection. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy and we can walk you through the process. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Here are the steps to take immediately after buying a new car:

  1. Title Transfer and Registration

You cannot legally drive your new vehicle if it is not properly registered. Usually, when you buy a used car from a dealership such as Auto Simple, the dealer will help you with all the DMV-related paperwork and fees, including title transfers and registration.

Filling out the paperwork at the dealership saves you the undesirable trip to the DMV. You will receive your plates in the mail in 2-3 weeks. Some dealerships, however, require that you make the trip.

If you are buying a used car from a private seller, you will almost always have to wait in line at the DMV and pay several hundred dollars to get the vehicle transferred and registered.

Before you register your car, you will need:

  • The title in your name
  • A completed emissions test
  • A completed vehicle safety inspection
  • Proof of insurance
  • Multiple forms of ID
  • Proof of address

Find your state on the DMV website for specific information on your state’s vehicle registration requirements, fees, and taxes (if applicable).

If you are financing your new vehicle, the lender and the dealer (sometimes the same company as with Auto Simple) will hold on to the title until the loan is fully paid off. Once the loan is paid, the title will be transferred to your name and mailed to you.

If you are not financing, the dealer will handle all of the DMV paperwork on the title to transfer the vehicle into your name.

However, if you are dealing with a private seller or a dealer that doesn’t handle all of the paperwork, you will have to go to the DMV yourself.

Before you transfer the title, you will need:

  • The Manufacturer’s Certificate of Origin (MCO) (if the car is brand new and has not yet received a title)
  • The current title (if previously owned and titled)
  • Dealership invoice/bill of sale (proves purchase and any relevant fees and taxes paid)

Sometimes you will need to visit the local country tax office with the seller to transfer ownership.

Once you get your registration information, keep it safe in the glove box. However, never keep your vehicle title in the car.

Simplify this process by buying your next car at Auto Simple, where we take care of all the paperwork on-site.

  1. Used Car Sales Tax

Dealerships will figure out your used car sales tax and include it in the final bill of sale. If you buy from a private seller, however, you will have to handle this step on your own.

Use these online Tax & Tag Calculators to figure out your used car sales tax. If your state isn’t on the list or you are experiencing difficulties, contact your state’s DMV.

  1. Insurance

You never want to drive around without insurance, even if it is just around the block. It’s a good idea to have all of your insurance figured out before you drive off the lot.

If you know the vehicle’s VIN number ahead of time, you can give it to your insurer in order to have the proper coverage the moment you take off.

Many times dealerships will not allow you to drive off the lot without first showing proof of insurance. By choosing an insurance plan early, you will also know how much it will cost, which can help you budget all of your auto expenses. Insurance should be budgeted into the overall cost of legally maintaining your vehicle.

Speak with your insurer about your options. Costs will vary based on your age, credit score, commute, deductible, where you live, in addition to the type of automobile you buy and its value.

Luckily, there are discounts for good driving, good grades, homeowner, and multi-car.

You are required to buy minimum liability insurance, which is normally $25,000 for each injury per accident. Additional coverage options, such as collision, comprehensive, protection against uninsured motorists, and medical payments are all optional, but recommended.

Keep in mind that if you are financing your used vehicle, your state may require liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage until after you have paid off the loan. Check with your state’s DMV.

  1. Bill of Sale

The bill of sale is presented after you purchase your used automobile. It acts as a receipt, displaying the purchase price, buyer’s name, seller’s name, and any related fees, taxes, and terms.

This document should be presented when registering the vehicle. It is also used when the state agency calculates your used car sales tax. If you go to a dealership, registration and sales tax will normally be taken care of for you.

  1. Temporary Tags

Many dealerships offer temporary 30-day tags to buy you some time before registering your vehicle with the state. This temporary registration will go with your insurance documents and title.

  1. Read the Owner’s Manual

Nobody reads owner’s manuals for fun, but it’s important to learn the car’s maintenance schedule, how to use the various gizmos, and what the ideal gas grade and tire pressure is. You will also learn about important warranty information, what all the dashboard lights mean, and much more.

Learn why your vehicle owner’s manual is your best friend.

  1. Take Car to Trusted Mechanic

While you probably should have had conducted a pre-purchase inspection before buying the car, it’s always a good idea to take it into a good mechanic after purchase.

When you speak with your mechanic, ask them to check:

  • All the filters
  • All the fluids
  • The brakes
  • The tires

This is also a good way to vet potential mechanics. After you have checked online reviews, certifications, and warranty information, give the shop a tryout and go with your gut. Finding a reliable mechanic is important after buying a new vehicle, but keep in mind that some shops specialize in maintenance while others specialize in repair.

  1. Give Your Vehicle a Name

As a new member of the family, don’t forget to give your car a worthy name. Not sure what to name your new car? Check out this list of the best car names.

  1. Learn How to Drive

Now that all the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed, it’s time to actually enjoy your new car. But before you do, avoid picking up bad habits by reading your owner’s manual and learning these common driving mistakes.

And remember, the best way to improve as a driver is to drive! Why not take a road trip?

Related Resources:

If you are purchasing your next vehicle from Auto Simple, we make the shopping and payment process very easy. After all questions are answered and the paperwork is signed, you will receive the keys and copies of all the documents.

Check out our Dealer Specials & Events on our large inventory of pre-owned vehicles.

Auto Simple wants to find you a car you love at a price you can afford.

With locations in Cleveland, Chattanooga, Dayton, and a new store in Dalton, GA, we make it easy to walk away with your dream car.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)

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