State Regulations in Hawaii

Just about everything in Hawaii is expensive. OK, maybe you can find cheap trinkets and excellent deals at the flea market at Aloha Stadium. But in general, if it's not made on the islands, it's going to cost more money than it would on the mainland.

This is particularly true when you're buying a car―a high-ticket item no matter where you are. That's why you need to take extra care to research the details of the transaction.

This is where the Internet becomes such an essential tool. No stone has to go unturned, and when you make the trip into the car dealership, you will go with knowledge and, most importantly, confidence.

A dealership is in business to make money, but they will always try to make you feel like you got the greatest deal on Earth. So it's just a good idea to know how to weave through all the wheeling and dealing that can go on when you're looking into a new vehicle.

Savvy Buying Tips

  • 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 pretrip 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 10-20%, 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.

Buyer and Seller Ownership Transfer

Answering a classified in the newspaper or calling a number on a for-sale sign in the back window of a vehicle requires a whole other set of skills. You won't need to fortify yourself with a cup full of ego the way you do before you wade into a haggling battle with a salesperson on a dealer lot. Generally, private transactions between individuals don't raise blood pressure levels at all, and they tend to come off smoothly.

But by skipping the dealership, you'll miss out on the dealer's help to collect all the necessary paperwork and make sure it's sent off to the right place. Nor will you have the salesperson pointing to everything on every document that you will need to sign to secure the deal.

The important component in a private transaction, once you you agree on a price and the money changes hands, is the transfer of vehicle ownership. In order to transfer the title without a hitch, each party will have to complete a few procedures.

Seller Responsibilities

  • Complete and sign a bill of sale.
  • Sign the title in the appropriate boxes: On the old title, this will be line 1. On the newer titles, you will need to fill out "Section A." This section also has a space for the odometer reading. Notarization is optional.
  • Supply the vehicle registration card.
  • Supply the vehicle safety inspection certificate.
  • Complete and mail in a Notice of Transfer form within 10 days of the sale. Both Hawaii County and the City and County of Honolulu have these forms online. If you are on Maui or Kauai, visit a local registration office (see locations below) to pick up one. If you fail to take care of this task within the required 10 days, you will face a fine. This fine varies by county.

Buyer Responsibilities

  • Before you hand over the money, make sure that a registration stopper is not on the vehicle.
  • Complete and sign a bill of sale.
  • Complete the appropriate sections on the back side of the title.
  • Make sure you are supplied with the vehicle registration card and safety inspection certificate.
  • Visit a local registration office within 30 days to title and register the car.
  • There is a title transfer fee besides all the other registration fees. If you register after the grace period of 30 days, you may be assessed a late fee.

Buying or Selling Without a Title

For information on how to sell or buy a vehicle without a title, contact your local court registration customer representative.

Registration Office Locations

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