What to Do After You Buy a Used Car from a Private Seller?

Buying a used car from a private seller is easy, quick, and less expensive. Fortunate are those who find a car in the best condition at the best price from a private seller. A person must consider several important things before buying a used car, but that’s a topic of another discussion, but that’s a topic of another discussion.

After you have finalized the deal and the keys are in your hands, there are important things to do after buying a used car from a private seller. But most people have questions about buying a used car from a private seller and important things to do after buying a used car, whether they need to file some paperwork, if yes, where to file them, and what to do at DMV after buying a used car.

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If this is your first car purchase, these questions are bound to bug you. This is why you need a comprehensive guide to answer all your questions and guide you in the right direction. This guide contains answers to your paperwork-related questions and what to do after you buy a used car from a private seller. So, sit tight and get your answers.

Paperwork for Buying a Used Car from Private Seller

Before you go deeper, you must get an idea of the laws of the land where you live, as the laws vary a little from state to state. In case of a private car purchase, there is no dealer to get the paperwork done for you. It is your own responsibility. First, there is the paperwork you must collect from the seller and then there are certain documents you must possess to be a legitimate buyer.

Among all the states, certain documents are common in every state. Among the paperwork for buying a used car from a private seller, a title deed and a bill of sale are a must. The title deed establishes that the car has been transferred in your name now.

As the buyer, you have a few days after the purchase to get the title registered in your name. It is the most important of all the important things to do after buying a used car from a private seller. The bill of sale is proof that the car has been sold. It also states the purchase price.

The paperwork when buying a used car also includes an Odometer Mileage Disclosure Form. It is required for every car younger than ten years and a sale price below 16000 pounds. It is required in all the US states for closing the deal.

Then there is the buyer’s guide which states all the mechanical and electrical systems of the cars and about their warranties. If you are getting your car financed in case of a private sale, you need a Finance Agreement stating the installments and the interest levied thereon.

Some states also require you to furnish a smog certificate every year to know the car’s emission. Take the latest one from your seller.

These are the documents that you need to collect from the seller, but there are some personal documents needed for buying a car from a private seller as a buyer. After all, the seller also wants to hand over his precious vehicle to a responsible citizen.

The following are the required documents for buying a used car from a private seller:

  • Driver’s License
  • Insurance Card
  • Residency Proof
  • Last two pay slips of every job
  • Trade documents
  • References

It’s good to be prepared beforehand so, if you liked the car, tested it, and your mechanic gave it an approving nod, you have everything you need to finalize the deal. You must go over the essential tips about how to buy a used car from a private seller before you agree to the purchase.

Must read: 14 Most Important Things to Check Before Buying a Used Car

What to Do After You Buy a Used Car from a Private Seller?

Closed the deal? Got the keys? Before you take your new car out on the road or plan a trip with your family in your new car, there are some very important things to do after buying a used car from a private seller.

You need to file papers for buying a used car from a private seller, take it to a mechanic, get it registered in your name, take insurance, etc. There are several steps to take after buying a used car, and all of the essential ones are discussed below:

Transfer the Title

The first thing to do after buying a used car is to get a valid title.

When you are stopped by police and asked about the car, and if you are not the real owner, you are as good as a thief for police. A title gives you the right to take the vehicle out and drive it. It is a simple process but a very important one.

Transferring the title is important so that the seller is no longer the owner, the authorities should know that the car is yours, and you shall have the right to do with the car as you think fit.

After buying a used car from a private seller, you have to make a visit to the DMV. The seller is required to sign the title in your name. Then you have to take this signed title to the DMV and inform them about the purchase. They require paperwork when buying a used car, such as current mileage, smog certificate (in some states), and bill of sale along with the title.

After going over all these documents, the state names you as the new owner. You get the “pink slip”, and it’s done.

Get Insurance for the Car

So, you bought the car for your kid, and on the very first day, the hood is gone as it was bumped into the neighbor’s car, or you were coming back from the owner’s place, and you collided with someone in your excitement. The repair may cost you thousands.

Thus after buying a used car from a private seller, the first thing you should do is to get car insurance. Unlike dealerships, you have to find an insurer on your own. But, it is important to check out various aspects before paying the premium.

The car insurance depends on several factors like the age and cost of the car, your driving record, your credit score, etc. It would be best if you considered this additional cost while outlining your car budget.

Compare the insurance companies, the plans they offer, the coverage they will provide, etc. Make a final decision and choose one. You can also go for additional coverage if your budget allows you.

Take the VIN from the seller and give it to the insurer and get a quote. It’s advised that you get the insurance before buying a used car from a private seller so that you can drive it back home safely.

Get Your Car Inspected by a Mechanic

Getting the car to the mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection always tops the list of tips on how to buy a used car from a private seller.

If the car is fine, even the seller doesn’t object to it. But if you are good with cars, you can check everything on your own. Then there are some cases where pre-inspection seems like an unnecessary expense, such as if the car is only a few months old and the owner is selling it due to financial problems, and the car is in good condition, you can skip the pre-purchase inspection.

However, in this case, getting it to the mechanic as soon as it is yours is the best idea. A professional can look into the details, which may skip your eyes. They check for all the fluids, the brakes, the tires, filters, etc.

The car may require a few minor repairs and maintenance, which are not crucial for finalizing the sale deal. The car is yours now, and its repair and maintenance is your responsibility. The better you keep it, the longer it will last. This is one of the most important steps to take after buying a used car which you should not skip.

Register the Car in Your Name

In the transfer deed, the ownership of the car is transferred. By registering the car, the car is given recognition. It requires you to visit the DMV and understand the requirements. Every state has a different renewal policy. Some states require annual registration renewal, while others register the car initially only.

You need to take the following documents to the DMV:

  • Your driver’s license
  • Bill of Sale
  • Auto Insurance
  • Title of the vehicle

You must get the car registered within the required time, which varies from state to state, else the state can levy penalties. Registering the car involves payment of registration fees as well.

You can also apply for registration online. Instead of standing in long queues at DMV, you can fill the registration form online. You can fill in all the required details, get a print and submit it to DMV or you can complete the entire process online and get your license plate and registration details mailed to you.

The online vehicle registration saves you a lot of time and it is one of the imperative things to do after buying a used car from a private seller.

Read the Owner’s Manual Thoroughly

Now, the car is yours. You must know it in and out. If you don’t have an idea about its mechanical and electrical parts, how will you schedule timely maintenance for it? Thus, read the owner’s manual to know your car.

After buying a used car from a private seller, many people want to hit the road as soon as possible and skip this step. But it is not wise. Don’t read every line and hang on to every word if it sounds boring, but go over it for crucial information.

This manual contains information about some very important parts such:

  • Battery: The size of the battery, the brand of battery, and when to change it.
  • Minor Vehicle Issues: You don’t want to call a mechanic for a flat tire, do you? The owner’s manual talks about troubleshooting some minor vehicle issues.
  • The Fluids: The fluids run the car smoothly, whether it is the engine oil, the coolant, or the fuel. The manual contains the details about how you can check the fluids and replace them.
  • Cleaning Tips: Many people damage their car by using unsuitable cleaning products. The manual contains cleaning tips to stop that.

These may sound trivial, but these tiny bits of information help you run your car smoothly.

Make Necessary Repairs

When you buy the car from a dealership, the dealership hands you over the car in as good as new condition. However, when buying a used car from a private seller, you have to look out for any damage that may need repair. You don’t want to buy a car that has a large repair outstanding on it. Thus, it is always recommended that you should take your car to the mechanic for a pre-purchase inspection.

If you are comfortable with some minor issues which can be easily repaired, you can buy the car. After buying a used car from a private seller, you should first make the necessary repairs and changes. It may include changing the filters and fluids, changing the tires, getting the minor dent repaired, etc.

So, when you have bought the car, please take it to the mechanic and get all the repairs done. Always take help from a professional expert. Don’t hand over your investment in a beginner’s hand.

It saves you from incurring a greater cost later on. Also, if a service is due on the car, get the car serviced. There is a reason why it is one of the most important things to do after buying a used car from a private seller as it keeps your car healthy and smoothly running for a longer time.

Take Care of Routine Maintenance

Your car is more of an investment than just a purchase. So you must take care of it properly. Thus, you should take care of its routine maintenance. It includes keeping your car clean and changing its parts.

Reading the owner’s manual is essential to get acquainted with maintenance tips. It includes item-wise information for upkeep. Then there are tires. You shouldn’t drive if the tire pressure is lower than the required minimum. Check it on time. Keeping the engine clean is of utmost importance as it is the heart of the car. Change the oils on time and clean away the debris.

Battery maintenance tips are available in the owner’s manual. Learn the simple tasks about changing the battery, removing it, etc. Keep the interiors clean, look out for strange noises or smells, keep an eye on mileage and fuel economy, and take it regularly to the mechanic. These are the important things to do after purchasing a used car for its proper maintenance.

Get Your Car Detailed Professionally

If the car is almost new, you are allowed to skip this step. But if your dad has bought you an old car, it needs detailing. Car detailing means cleaning and restoring the vehicle so that it looks new. It is not a regular car wash which is done by machine Professionals do it by hand as they go over the entire car in detail.

Car detailing includes exterior cleaning, interior cleaning, and additional detailing. External detailing involves:

  • Washing and drying the car and wiping it down with professional cleaning products.
  • Polishing to hide the scratches.
  • Applying sealant to give your car a glossy shine.

Engine cleaning, bumper repair, paint touch up, etc., are also included in exterior cleaning.
Interior cleaning involves vacuuming the entire car, scrubbing, brushing, glass cleaning, leather trimming, etc. The carpet stains are cleared, windows and windshield are cleaned, and perfuming finishes off the interiors.

Additional detailing is also done, including correcting paintwork, completing it with ceramic coating and a final touch of PPF to protect your car. It is one of the very important steps to take after buying a used car to give it a new look.

Decorate The Interior of Your Car

To give your car a new and luxurious look, you can decorate the interiors of your car in any manner you wish. After all, it is your car, and you can keep it bare but, to give it a more welcoming feel, some decoration ideas won’t hurt.

A leather steering wheel cover is best for a perfect grip. In fact, there are several aesthetic steering wheels available in the market which you can buy. Then comes the seats, which must feel soft and comforting. Adorn your seats with the luxurious seat cover. The floor mats also catch the eye if anyone enters your car. Invest in some of those.

Car seat back protectors are something you need if you have kids or pets who love to sit in the car. These back seat protectors are multi-purpose as they ward off dirt and dust and can also be used as organizers.

Adding a car trash can, a visor mirror, a tissue holder, car dolls, and an air freshener will only make your car more appealing. There are a few things to do after you buy a used car to make it look almost new.

Get Familiar with the Car’s Features

When you buy a new phone, you spend a lot of time understanding the phone’s features. It’s the car you have invested in, and it holds your life; thus, it becomes imperative to understand the different features and settings before you hit the road.

While you are driving the car, you may need to use some of these features. It can be as simple as understanding the wiper settings. There are a few things you should know before you hit the road. Understand the anti-brake locking system to restrain the wheel locking.

While everyone hopes not to get into a situation where they need airbags, understanding them is a good idea. Then there is the engine, which keeps your car running. Understand it. Of all the things to do after purchasing a used car, this one gets the minimum attention but is more important than you perceive it.

Go for a Drive Wherever You Want

You can judge a car’s performance best when it is running. After you have performed all the steps stated above, you can take the car out on the road. As you have already taken it to the mechanic, did oil and filter change, and made necessary repairs, it should run smooth like butter. Still, as it is a used car, look out for any noises or smells.

Take a round of your neighborhood and adjust the mirrors, seat, steering, and get comfortable. Hit the highway and see its performance. Roam it around to satisfy yourself that you have made good use of your money.

Do you know? What to Look for When Buying a Used Car from a Private Seller?

Things to Do After Buying a Used Car from a Private Seller [FAQs]:

There are certain steps to take after buying a used car which has been discussed above. If you have any other questions apart from them, such as do I need to go to the DMV after buying a used car, how to pay for a used car from a private seller, how to buy a used car from a private seller, etc., you will find them here.

Do I Need to Go to the DMV After Buying a Used Car from a Private Seller?

When buying a used car from a private seller, a visit to the DMV is imperative. You need to get your car registered within 30 days; else you have to pay penalties.

To get the car register in your name and obtain the valid title transferred in your name, you must submit the required paperwork for buying a used car. You can also fill the registration form online and then take the printout with the required documents to the DMV.

If you want to avoid going to the DMV, you can also complete the registration process online. As DMV has a vital role in registering your car, paying a visit is not such an unwelcome thought.

Can I Return a Used Car I Just Bought from a Private Seller?

In the majority of the cases, no. You cannot return a car and ask for your money if you have bought it from a private seller. However, it depends significantly on the buyer’s and seller’s understanding

If the seller wanted to get rid of the car, he wouldn’t agree to a refund. That’s why a pre-purchase inspection is recommended so that you won’t have to go through the trouble of dealing with a refund in case some features are lacking in the car.

Also, there is no protection of laws on buying a used car from a private owner. It is also mentioned in most of the used car sale ads that a refund is not a possibility. So, scrutinize the car, take it to a mechanic and then only finalize the deal after careful thought, so you don’t have to return the car.

What is the Best Way to Pay for a Used Car from a Private Seller?

Wondering about the best way to pay for a used car from a private seller? The thought of paying in cash must have crossed your mind. But it’s a big no-no.

If you are the buyer and you agree to pay in cash, if things go south or a seller is a fraudulent person, proving a payment in cash is very difficult. You can write a check if the seller agrees.

Presently, digital transactions are much more prevalent, and they are easy to prove. You can make a direct transfer to the seller’s account. For the safety of both buyer and seller, escrow accounts are a great solution. The buyer can place the money in an escrow account, which will be released after the deal is closed.

What to Do After Buying a Used Car from a Private Seller?

Even if the car is not a brand new one, it is new to you. But there are important things to do after buying a used car from a private seller, without which it is hazardous to take your car out on the road.

For example, there is paperwork to be filed with DMV, which is among the first things to do after buying a used car. You can use this buying a used car paperwork checklist to ensure that you have prepared every required document to save you multiple visits to DMV.

The answers to your question about what to do after you buy a used car are given above. These are the steps to take after buying a used car which you should never skip.

The title transfer is mandatory, registering the car is mandatory, car insurance is for your own safety, and routine repair maintenance keeps your investment a valuable one, so keep in mind all the 11 most important things to do after buying a used car from a private seller.

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About Amy Cuban

I am an automotive enthusiast who loves to be around cars. I enjoy working on cars in my spare time and love anything related to automobiles. I like using different types of car accessories, car gadgets, and innovative car care products.

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