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There's nothing inherently wrong with that idea but compared to buying a car within your state of residence, the process is more complicated and time-consuming. So, before you learn how to buy a car from another state, it is worthwhile to understand why you might want to do that and what the ramifications are.
One reason to consider buying a car from another state rather than your home state is the opportunity to purchase a model that is not available locally. Maybe it is a new car with a combination of equipment and color that is not in stock in any dealership in your state. Or perhaps it is an antique, classic, or special-interest vehicle that is so rare that finding one just like it for sale in your state is just an impossibility.
You may also consider buying a car from another state to save money. There are regional differences in new-vehicle pricing and manufacturer incentives, so a car with no incentive available in your state might have a lower price and a rich incentive on it elsewhere.
Finally, a third reason to consider buying a car from another state is that online buying services like Carvana, Vroom, and Shift are making it much easier to find out-of-state vehicles you might want to buy. They take the hassle out of the process as well.
With that in mind, it is wise to be confident that buying a vehicle from out of state will be a better move for you than purchasing a vehicle from a local dealer or a private party in your state. If you live in a big urban area in a populous state, the odds are you'll be able to find a car that meets your expectations without venturing outside the state boundaries. That being the case, you would have to save quite a bit of money to justify the extra steps involved in buying it out of state.
One of the most significant drawbacks of buying a car from another state is the distance between you and the vehicle. Should you live close to another state, crossing the state line is easier. But for many car buyers, the distance can be an obstacle. After all, we heartily advise seeing and test driving the vehicle before you buy it.
Scams are also a complication of buying a car long-distance. Fraud involving vehicle sales is a significant and growing problem. If a classified listing for a used car appears to offer the vehicle at an unbelievable bargain price, you are well-advised to believe the listing might be the front for a scam. You send money with the expectation that the car will be delivered to you, and you never hear from the seller/scam artist again.
One step is getting a vehicle history report. These reports are available from several different sources, and the two biggest suppliers are CarFax and AutoCheck, the latter of which is a subsidiary of credit report source Experian. A single AutoCheck report currently costs $24.99, while a CarFax report costs $39.99.
A vehicle history report is a valuable source of information, but you shouldn't assume that if a car has a clean report, that's all you need to know. Instead, you should have the car inspected by a qualified mechanic in addition to reviewing the report. Arranging an inspection requires you to find a mechanic you trust in a place far from your home. A company called Lemon Squad says it can provide ASE-certified technicians to inspect vehicles nationwide, and other similar services exist. All that said, there is no substitute for seeing and driving the car yourself.
If you are buying the vehicle from a dealer, the dealer will likely help you with the details, like paying the sales tax to the proper authorities and getting the registration and titling completed. But if you are buying from a private party, it is all on you.
If you plan to drive the vehicle back to your home state, you must be sure that both insurance and, if needed, a temporary registration are in place. If you will have the vehicle shipped to your home, you'll have to find a shipper that will do the job for you. Many auto transport companies are listed on the Internet, and should you purchase from a dealer, they might be able to help you find a reliable company. You should be aware that shipping a car can be an expensive proposition.
If you are purchasing the car from a private owner, they may allow your friend or family member to drive the car back for you. If there are concerns about the insurance, they may even be willing to drive it personally instead.
In light of this fact, you want to choose someone you have a close relationship with, like a spouse, family member, or a very close friend. Remember, this person will have equal ownership of the vehicle, so you want to pick someone you trust to prevent your car from being legally taken out of your possession.
Due to the nature of the vehicles they sell, car sites that sell classic cars or cars from certain eras charge more, typically around $89 and higher. Auction sites will also take a commission fee whi