Buying a car from another state? Here's a handy tip

November 29, 2016

The internet offers some exciting opportunities for automakers and dealerships--for example, Fiat Chrysler's new partnership with Amazon.

But with those opportunities come plenty of headaches, and nowhere is that more apparent than when consumers shop across state lines.

Of course, interstate purchases are nothing new. It's likely that many of you have had to deal with the headaches that come with buying a car in one state and registering it in another. But the growth of online commerce means that it's becoming an even bigger concern. Today, it's estimated that up to 20 percent of retail sales are conducted across state lines, and that figure will likely rise in the coming years.

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If you're planning to buy your next ride from the state nextdoor, our advice is simple: be patient.

In the U.S., automobile registration is handled at the state, not federal level, meaning that we have a patchwork of laws and regulations governing the process. So, if you think that purchasing a vehicle is already a slow, tedious process, imagine how much further it slows when sales staff are required to calculate payments and file paperwork from other areas of the country. Among the things they have to consider:

  • Different sales tax rates
  • Different vehicle registration fees
  • Different sets of vehicle registration paperwork
  • Different titling paperwork

And many states charge extra fees for registering vehicles bought in other states. 

It takes extra time to work out all those sums and ensure that every I is dotted, every T is crossed. If payments are off--either over or under--or if paperwork isn't properly completed, it can keep you from driving off the lot in your new ride. Or worse, it can prevent you from legally registering the car when you get it home.

And on top of all that, buying a car in another state can create some practical problems. For example, if you're buying a used vehicle, you may not have a dealership you can turn to for maintenance and other service.

Have you bought a vehicle from another state before? Was it a breeze or more like a gale-force wind? Share your experiences--and any tips you might've picked up--in the comments below.

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