Would you like to buy a car from another state? You're in good company.

Research shows that around 30% of new vehicle sales in the United States were completed virtually after the COVID pandemic versus 2% before COVID.

The question is, can you buy a car out of state? If so, how can you buy used cars out of state? Here's everything you need to know about buying a used car from out of state and having it shipped securely.

Let's dig in!

Why Buy a Car Out of State?

Buying a car online is the best way to buy a car if you have discovered a rare or vintage model several states away. Likewise, online car buyers may find great deals at online car auctions featuring cars in other states.

Note that some of the best websites to sell a car online include Cars.com and Autotrader. The best websites to buy used cars additionally include eBay Motors and CarMax.

Look at a Car's History Report Before Buying the Car from Out of State

One of the first steps in buying a used car out of state is to obtain an up-to-date copy of your desired vehicle's history report. This report will contain information about maintenance, recalls, and accidents. You may also find out about any title issues the car has, like a title that has been rebuilt.

The information present in the history report will help you to pinpoint red flags, which may dissuade you from purchasing the vehicle or impact your negotiations.

As an example, let's say that the car report reveals that the vehicle title has some liens. You shouldn't attempt to transport this vehicle to your state until these liens have been satisfied. If you do, you might end up becoming responsible for these liens legally.

Get a Car Inspection Before You Buy a Car Out of State

Another important step in buying a car out of state is to get the car inspected, if possible.

You might be able to convince the car's seller to drive the vehicle to a nearby mechanic for a detailed inspection. If so, you'll want to ask the mechanic to check the vehicle's parts as well as its major systems. These include the following:

  • Steering system
  • Tires
  • Brakes
  • Suspension
  • Transmission
  • Engine

If the inspection reveals a problem, you can use this information as leverage for negotiating a lower car price. Alternatively, you can back out of the deal.

Explore Necessary Emissions and Safety Tests Before You Buy a Used Car from Out-of-State

Yet another important step in buying a used car from another state is to find out about your state's emissions and safety test requirements.

To do this, you'll want to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in your state. Alternatively, you can look at the department's website to determine what inspections your vehicle will have to undergo.

Depending on your state's laws, your new vehicle might have to undergo safety, odometer, and/or emissions testing. If the car ends up failing the inspection, you'll have to make all of the required repairs before completing the vehicle registration process (more on this process later).

Get the Car Insured When Buying a Used Car from a Different State

Once you decide to buy a vehicle out of state, you will have to get in insured by your current auto insurance company or a new company. Only then will you be legally able to drive it.

This step should be done before you ship the car to you (more on this next).

Cost to Ship a Car to Another State

When you decide to buy a car out of state, you'll need to factor in your shipping costs as well. These costs will depend on multiple factors.

For instance, cross-country car shipping may cost you a few hundred dollars if your car is within 500 miles of your home and you use an open carrier. Meanwhile, let's say your car is more than 2,500 miles away and you use a closed carrier. You may pay closer to a couple of thousand dollars.

A car shipping calculator can help you determine what your shipping costs will be.

Register Your New Car ASAP When You Buy a Vehicle Out of State

Once you've purchased your car, you'll need to take the following items to the Department of Motor Vehicles to register it:

  • Inspection certification
  • Your driver's license
  • The bill of sale
  • Proof of your address

You might also have to submit a form verifying your vehicle's identification number. With all of these documents, you can easily register your car in your address and name.

Keep in mind that in many states, you have no more than 30 days to complete the registration process. If you go past the deadline, you can expect to pay fines.

Pay the Sales Tax When You Purchase a Car in Another State

When registering your car, be prepared to cover your car's sales tax cost as well. If your state doesn't charge sales tax, you won't have to pay anything.

How We Can Help If You're Asking "Can You Buy a Car Out of State?"

If you're asking "Can you buy a car out of state," the great news is that you can easily buy a used car from out-of-state.

After contacting multiple car dealers and finding the perfect vehicle, be prepared to have the car inspected, and review its history report. In addition, you'll need to get the car insured and shipped to you. Then, you can register it in your state and pay the sales tax for it.

At Nexus Auto Transport, we can help those wanting to ship a car to another state. Contact us to learn more about our services, and schedule a shipment today!