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  • State Regulations in Rhode Island

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    If you ask a person to list his or her least enjoyable things to do in life, chances are good buying a car would make the cut. To help in the decision process, consider the following:

    • Keep in mind that an expensive vehicle does not automatically translate into reliable transportation. Pricey cars are just as prone to breakdowns as lower-priced models.
    • The best deals for new cars occur between July and October, when dealerships are trying to create space for new models. You can also find bargains during late December, when salesmen are desperately trying to reach year-end quotas.
    • Never sign a blank financial form.
    • Don't let the dealership hang onto your driver's license for collateral while taking a test drive. While you're wheeling around the block, the dealership could be using your license to run an unauthorized credit report.

    To protect consumers, Rhode Island has a Lemon Law that allows you to request a replacement or refund if your vehicle has a major defect. However, you still need to exercise sound judgment when negotiating with an unknown dealer.

    Buying a Used Car

    • Always have the vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic of your choice.
    • Be sure, if this applies, that you can afford the monthly payments.
    • Investigate the car's history. Request the name and address of the previous owner if you are buying from a dealer.
    • Make sure the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the car matches with the VIN on the title.
    • Insist that all agreements be made in writing.
    • Be sure the seller gives you a bill of sale, the title, and a receipt. Check for all needed signatures.

    Buying a New Car

    • Before walking into a dealership, take the time to learn the trade-in value of your car by looking it up on the Kelley Blue Book website.
    • Know how much you can afford, and compare finance terms between the dealer and your bank before expressing interest.
    • Don't succumb to the pressure tactics of a pushy car dealer. You're the one who must live with your decision. And, bear in mind, there is no hedging once you sign the contract.
    • Get every agreement in writing.
    • Be sure you request a bill of sale.

    Buying or Selling Without Paperwork

    You can buy or sell a car in Rhode Island without registration papers, but if the vehicle has a model year newer than 2000, the seller is required to provide the buyer with a title to complete the transaction.

    Buyers should beware―if a person attempts to sell you a vehicle without a title, you probably want to pass. Not having a title could signal that the seller doesn't have permission to sell the car or possibly doesn't even own it.

    If you want to sell a vehicle to which you've lost the title, first apply for a duplicate title. Once you have that in hand, you can proceed with the sale.

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