What should you do after buying a used car? If you buy from a dealership some of the items on this list are handled by the dealer, but if not, you need to.
Thankfully, if you purchase a pre-owned vehicle from a private seller, you’re likely to pay a lot less than you would if you went to a dealer location. After the test drive is over, the money has changed hands, and the old owner hands over the title, the work begins for you as the new owner of the vehicle.
Put the Car on Your Insurance
Before you drive the car home you should handle this step. Sometimes, that’s not feasible, but if you can get the car insured before you head home, you’ll want to make sure the most recent vehicle you bought is listed on your insurance. If you’ve paid cash for the car, you can start with liability insurance to cover you in case you’re in an accident and then shop around for the right full coverage insurance that you’ll need to protect you and your newly purchased vehicle.
Find Out How You Can Get the Title Transferred
This is something you might need to cover before buying a used car because it varies from state to state. You will likely need the signature of the person selling you the car to make sure you have a proper transfer of the title. Also, if you’re going to title the car in a different state from where you purchase it, you should understand how to do this. You’ll want to cover this item before you meet the person and take the car out for a test drive.
Identify the Mechanic You’ll Use for Service
Most of the time, a pre-owned car comes with some issues. That said, you’ll want to have a mechanic that will check out any issues with the car without charging you to look at it. There will be times when the fix you need is simple and won’t require the vehicle spending time at the shop, but other times you’ll have to keep the car there to have it fixed.
Read the Owner’s Manual, It’s Boring, but Necessary
Treat the car you’ve bought like it’s a new car and read the owner’s manual. This is one of the most important steps when buying a used car. You don’t have to read every detail but should get to know where everything is and how it functions in your vehicle. You can read about the warranties offered and see if any still apply to the car you just bought. As you read through this manual you’ll learn everything you want to about the car and might find some pleasant surprises along the way.
Think About an Extended Warranty
Even if you don’t buy the car from a dealership, you can buy a warranty that will cover you for a specified time and distance. This is an extra expense that you might not have figured into the cost of the vehicle you drive, but it could be something important to keep you out of trouble in the long run. Its important to read the fine print and understand what’s involved in making a warranty claim.
Get to Know the Features of Your Car
The car isn’t new, but it is new to you. This means you need to know how everything works and what it offers. This might be a step you perform while also reading the manual of the car. As you cover an item in the manual, you can check out the car and see how it works. Of course, you’ll want to know how everything you use every day functions so that you can use the car to get from one place to another.
Get Ready for a Maintenance Schedule
If the previous owner had extensive maintenance records and gave you them you’ll want to continue on with the maintenance schedule they already used. If not, its time to create your own maintenance schedule to make sure the car is cared for the right way. When the previous owner didn’t have maintenance records, one of the first things you should do is get the oil changed and perform the maintenance associated with the mileage of the vehicle. This will get you started on the right path.
If Necessary, Schedule Repairs
Sometimes we buy vehicles knowing they need to be fixed. In your mind, you probably calculated these repairs, or you got an estimate from your mechanic when you took the car to them for an inspection. This is one of the most important parts of buying used car and something that helps you know that your car will work right when you’re out on the road. Some of the repairs could be critical to the function of your car while others might be something you can put off for a little while.
Head to DMV and Get the Car Registered
After you purchase a vehicle, you need to register it with the DMV. This is how you’ll get your license plates that will be seen on your car. Most of the time, you’ll need your title and proof of purchase along with proof of insurance to have the car registered in your name. In some cases, the DMV will do the registration at the same time as transferring the title too your name.
Check the VIN for Existing Recalls for Your Car
The process of buying a used car is over and you now own the car. Any problems this car has are now yours including the recalls still active for that vehicle. All you need to do is put the VIN in the NHTSA website and see if there are any outstanding recalls still active for this vehicle. Once you’ve registered the car, any future recall notices will be mailed to you so that you can take care of them, but you want to check to see if there are any outstanding recalls once you buy the car so that you have the peace of mind knowing the car isn’t under any recalls.
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