How to Register Your Used Car

Register your vehicle through the DMV to make it drivable.

Purchase a used car and you may have saved yourself a heap of money over the cost of a new ride. Indeed, with the average cost of a new car well above $40,000, a used vehicle is a better value proposition for millions of drivers. Certainly, repair issues may become a factor when buying used, but if you shop carefully, you may find a hidden gem.

Nissan 370Z.
Maybe your used car find is a Nissan 370Z?

Steps to Registering Your Ride

Now that your purchase is complete, what is next? That’s easy: you must ensure that your vehicle is compliant with your state or district’s Department of Motor Vehicles. This means registration is required, which typically follows insuring your vehicle. If you do not register your used car, you may face fines or even impoundment. Here is how to get the job done.

Step No. 1: Find Your DMV Facility

Visit your local DMV bureau (or head to the DMV government website) for car registration forms. Find the right form for your vehicle.

Step No. 2: Visit Your DMV

Learn what days the DMV facility is open as well as the hours. Keep in mind that the DMV will most likely close for state and federal holidays. When making your visit, find the correct customer service line to match what you need. In this case, vehicle registration and license plates. Note: you might plan your visit when the facility is least busy. That information is often available on the website.

Step No. 3: Present Your Paperwork

If you purchased the vehicle outright from a private party or a dealer, then most likely you have the title in hand. If not, the dealer will handle the registration. In some states, both the seller and buyer must be present in front of a notary as they sign the title. Find out what your state requires. While at the DMV, you must present the title and show proof of insurance. You may also be given the opportunity to purchase vanity plates. Finally, in some states you will pay a property tax. Add up the cost of the registration, transfer fee, plates, and taxes to determine your cost. Payment by cash, check, or bank card usually is allowed.

Step No. 4: Get it Inspected

In some states, inspection is not required, at least not immediately. In other states, you have a timeframe for accomplishing that task. Ensure that you understand when your vehicle must be inspected and get it done in accordance with those rules. Upon successfully passing inspection, you will have a sticker placed on the windshield or tags supplied to update your license plate.

Glovebox Paperwork

With your paperwork done and the proof of ownership in your hands, the documents need to find a home. Your glovebox is the normal location for some items.

In a clearly labeled envelope titled “Documentation” place your vehicle’s registration and insurance car inside. Both documents may be temporary, therefore replacements will be mailed. When the new documents arrive, insert them in the envelope or appropriate folder and place it inside the glovebox. Then destroy the old ones. Along with your driver’s license, a police officer will require the registration and insurance card in a traffic stop.

As for the license plates, secure them to your vehicle.

Secure Legal Paperwork

Not all documentation should be placed in your glovebox. For instance, the title should never be left in the vehicle as someone can take it, forge your signature, and abscond with your ride.

The best place to keep important documents, such as the title, is in a strong box inside your home. Alternatively, the document may reside in a safe deposit box at your bank. Regardless, remember where you placed the title if you move or desire to sell your vehicle. If you lose the title, you will jump through DMV hoops to get a copy. You might also have to pay handsomely for that experience.

Enjoy Your Ride

Now that you have the used car in your possession, enjoy it! Keep it maintained by following the maintenance intervals recommended in your owner’s manual. Finally, find a great mechanic to handle the work that you do not want to do yourself.

Photo Attribution

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Image by Cock-Robin from Pixabay

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Johnny Orion
Author: Johnny Orion
Johnny Orion is a weekend mechanic and a Cars & Coffee hound who dabbles in writing, mostly about cars. His goal is to retrace the famous Route 66 highway in a restored 1972 Pontiac Firebird hardtop with a four-barrel carburetor and a 3-speed manual gearbox. But first, he must convince his friend to sell...

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