Buying a Used Car in NY

A potential buyer has two options when buying a used car. He/she can either go to a licensed car dealer or contact a private party. Both options have advantages and disadvantages. The state’s registration requirements, however, remain the same, irrespective of whether the used car has been bought from a dealer or a private owner.

It is safer to buy a used car from a licensed dealer though. Dealers inspect and repair a car before selling it. So the buyer’s chances of having to take his/her used car to a mechanic, at least, in the short run are low. Another great feature of buying a car from a licensed dealer is that he/she may also offer warranty on the car. Furthermore, dealers are under legal obligation to disclose whether the used car being sold was ever salvaged. Also, a car, whether new or used, bought from a dealer is registered by the dealer. He/she does the paperwork for transferring the title and obtaining license plates. However, all of this comes with a price tag; it is no secret that a used car bought from a dealer is likely to be more expensive than a used car bought from a private party.

The biggest advantage of buying a used car from a private party is that it is likely to be cheaper. However, you need to be very vigilant because private parties can misrepresent a car’s history. They also do not provide warranty. Therefore it is not unheard of people driving off with complete lemons from private sellers at the same time as people getting excellent bargain on good-conditioned cars from dealers.

Bought new or used, you must register your car in order to drive it legally in New York. For this, you must get the following from the (private) owner:

  • Proof of ownership
  • Proof of purchase price
  • Odometer and damage disclosure statement
  • A signed and dated title

If the title indicates a lien on the car then an original document from the lien holder to establish that the lien is satisfied is also required.

Then the buyer needs to take the abovementioned to the DMV, pay sales tax, other applicable fees and register the car with the following additional documents:

  • Proof of insurance
  • Identification
  • Applicable fees

Choose Your State

Q:Does buying a used car in New York involve the same processes that are required in other states?

A:No, the legal and paperwork related requirements for purchasing a used car in New York differ somewhat from those in other states. For instance, there are a number of notarized forms and other documents the DMV in other states asks for but the one in New York doesn't. Furthermore, the New York DMV also charges a much lower two-year registration fee as compared to many of the neighboring states.