Car Buying Articles
10 Steps to Buying a Used Car
Step 10: Closing the deal
If you are at a dealership, you still have to go through the finance and insurance (F&I) process. If you are buying a car from a private party, you just have to make sure that payment is final and that the seller properly transfers title and registration to you.
In both cases, you also need to make sure you have insurance for the car you just bought before you drive it away. Also, the F&I person will probably try to sell you a number of additional items: an extended warranty, alarms or anti-theft services such as LoJack, prepaid service plans, fabric protection, rust-proofing and emergency roadside kits. Some people want the peace of mind that comes with extended warranties, so this is something you might want to consider (unless your used car is certified or still under the manufacturer's warranty). However, the other items typically sold in the F&I room are expensive and may hold little value for you.
The F&I person may seem like a financial advisor, but he or she is really an experienced salesperson. Some F&I people can become very persistent trying to sell these items. Be firm.
Once the contract is ready, review it thoroughly. In most states, it will contain the cost of the vehicle, a documentation fee, a smog fee, a small charge for a smog certificate, sales tax and license fees (also known as DMV fees). This article, "What Fees Should You Pay," goes into more detail. Make sure you understand the charges and question the appearance of any significant, sudden additions to the contract.
Finally, if any repair work is required and has been promised by the dealer, get it in writing in a "Due Bill." Make sure the temporary registration has been put in the proper place and you're finally on your way.
When you buy a car from a private party, you will probably be asked to pay with a cashier's check or in cash. But before money changes hands, request the title (sometimes called the pink slip) and have the seller sign it over to you. Rules governing vehicle registration and licensing vary from state to state. Check the registry's Web site in your state.
Once all of the paperwork is complete, it is finally time to relax and begin enjoying your new purchase: a good used car.