After careful research, you found a used car you like, inspected it, test-drove it and negotiated a great deal. The exhausting car-buying process may finally be over, but there are still a few steps left to take before you can go joyriding in your new-to-you ride.
Six Steps to Take After Buying a Used Car
- Transfer the title and register the car
- Insure the car
- Read the owner's manual
- Repair outstanding problems
- Perform routine maintenance
- Go for a drive
Transfer the Title and Register the Car
If you bought your used car from a dealer, then you may have already completed the necessary title and registration paperwork with the salesperson. If you bought it from a private seller, you need to make a trip to your local DMV to finalize the transfer of the title from the previous owner and register the car in your name with the state you live in.
In order to successfully register the vehicle, you’ll need to bring the title (or loan documents if you financed the car), proof of insurance, identification and proof of address. Depending on the state you live in, you may also need to bring a completed emissions test and/or vehicle safety inspection. You can find out the exact requirements for your state using DMV.org’s interactive map.
Insure the Car
It’s wise to research insurance estimates before you buy a car in order to get the best deal and plan your budget around the added cost, but you can still insure your vehicle after you’ve bought it. If you bought the car from a dealer, you may have insured it through a partner of the dealership when you filled out the paperwork. If you didn’t — or you bought through a private seller — you need to insure the vehicle before you can register and legally drive it.
As you shop around for insurance, find out which coverage types are required in your state. You should also consider optional coverages based on how much protection you want and how they fit into your budget. There are five insurance coverage types, so make sure you take the time to understand what each one provides.
Read the Owner’s Manual
The owner’s manual is full of insightful information that’ll help you take care of your car. You don’t need to read it cover to cover like you would a novel (unless you want to!), but you should be familiar with it and learn the maintenance recommendations and service intervals for your vehicle. It’ll answer questions about aspects of your car, such as what kind of oil it requires or how much pressure your tires need, so you can maintain it as best as possible.
Repair Outstanding Problems
Hopefully you assessed the car before you test-drove it and had a certified mechanic perform a full inspection to scope out problems that need fixing. If you found any issues you were comfortable with inheriting or you’re noticing a problem that wasn’t apparent before you bought the vehicle, you should get the necessary repairs completed as soon as you can. Avoiding these in the present can make them much costlier to repair in the future.
Additionally, find out whether there are any existing service recalls for the vehicle if you didn’t check before completing the purchase. Consult the dealership or previous owner to check whether the corresponding repairs have already been made for any recalls you find.
Perform Routine Maintenance
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the maintenance schedules outlined in your owner’s manual, you should complete any necessary upkeep. These might include an oil change, fluid replacement, tire rotation or battery replacement. Staying on top of these intervals will help keep your car healthy for the long haul.
Go for a Drive
Now that you’ve addressed the post-purchase priority list, all that’s left to do is acclimate yourself with your car’s features, take it out for a well-deserved ride and enjoy the freedom of the open road.