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Buying a car is always a big deal, whether it is a brand-new Mercedes or a used 1988 diesel Peugeot. Vehicle purchases involve much more than the exchange of money. There are high levels of stress, fear of being taken advantage of, wondering if the clunker you bought as a last resort will last a thousand miles, and all that paperwork.
Whether you are purchasing the ride from a dealer or from an individual that ran an ad in the Sunday paper, the key to the transaction is research. Knowing exactly what the deal entails before you go into it is half the battle. The other half is ensuring that you have the right documents in order to transfer the vehicle title into your name. This way you can register the vehicle and actually drive it on the roads and highways of Maryland.
Although we cannot go to the dealership or meet the seller with you, we do offer a few tips on how to go to the sale prepared. It is also imperative when you are looking over a used car that you do more than simply kick the tires a few times. Those days are long gone and so are the cars you could do that with. Nowadays cars are like rolling computers and need thorough scrutiny. It is even worth the few extra dollars to run a history on the vehicle.
But it is important to understand the transaction and its components and that is what we will look at now.
To ensure the seller is released from vehicle ownership and the buyer takes over ownership, there are certain documents that need to change hands.
Perhaps the most important document in the deal is the title. If the seller can not produce a title―run. There is no point in dealing with a who-knows-where-this-came-from vehicle when there are plenty of others out there to buy. If the title is simply missing, the seller can request a duplicate title through the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). So if a title is on the table then the transaction should be able to move forward.
For information on how to sell or buy a vehicle without a title, contact an MVA customer representative at (800) 950-1682.
What to do if you are the seller: ―In the "Assignment of Ownership" box on the title:
- Record the buyer's name and address.
- Note the agreed-upon price of the vehicle and the date.
- Jot down the current odometer reading.
- Sign and print your name.
What to do if you are the buyer: ―In the "Assignment of Ownership" box on the title:
- Make sure your name and address are printed correctly by the seller.
- Double-check that the purchase price and odometer reading are correct.
- Complete an Application for Title and begin the transfer process at a local MVA office.
- Sign and print your name.
Bill of Sale
The buyer and seller need to complete a bill of sale and have it notarized if the vehicle being bartered is seven years old or less.
Notes to the Seller
Just prior to parting with the vehicle you will need to remove your license plates. Once the sale of the vehicle is made, you either need to re-register the plates to another vehicle or return them to an MVA office.
Notes to the Buyer
You can apply for a temporary registration form in order to have a bit of leeway to take care of the safety inspection. An inspection is required in order to complete the registration process. You will also need to have verifiable insurance for the new vehicle. Thus, the short-term registration will give you 30 days in order to complete these tasks.
- Do plenty of research. With racks of magazines available for dissecting and comparing models, there is really no reason not to study up before heading to a dealership―even for the initial test drive. It is a good idea to be ready to do battle, if that is how you look at buying a car (many people do).
- Then there is the almighty Internet. With this tool, you can comparison shop to no end without ever leaving the sofa or office chair. You can peruse local dealerships for the best prices and develop an approach for test-driving each car choice when you check them out in person.
- If you have done plenty of pre-trip research, you should have a price in mind and be thinking of negotiation strategies. Unless you are heading to a "no haggle" dealership, you can figure you have a cushion of 10% to 20%, depending on the salesperson's willingness to part with his or her profit.
- If you do not see what you were looking for, don't let yourself be pressured into buying something you don't want. Options cost a ton, and if you don't need them and they are cramping the price you wanted to pay, don't give in. You can always order the vehicle you want. It may take longer, but it's definitely an option.
- Compare lenders. You may not get the best deal from the dealership's financing partner. So look around; it may save you a ton of cash in the long run.
- If you are offered a service contract, analyze it closely to make sure it is well over and above the warranty that comes standard from the manufacturer.
- If you are trading in a vehicle, make sure you are aware of its value before heading to the dealership. This gives you more negotiating power and prevents you from getting taken. Kelley Blue Book and the National Auto Dealers Association (NADA) are good resources, and they cost nothing.
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