Buying Used Car in Texas

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) provides invaluable advice to those thinking of buying used cars in Texas. There are a variety of sources from where used cars can be bought; for example, licensed dealers, private parties, etc. Whoever the seller, the DMV has the following tips for potential buyers:

  • Determine which car to buy and whether it is affordable;
  • Read consumer reviews of the car; and
  • Shop around for the best price.

During the seller-buyer meeting, the potential buyer must:

  • Test drive the car;
  • If possible, have the car inspected by a mechanic;
  • Ask for the car’s history report and maintenance records;
  • Compare the mileage on the title with the vehicle’s odometer reading;
  • If buying from a dealer, check for warranty; and
  • If in doubt, do not buy; a buyer must trust his/her instincts.

Once a car is bought, its ownership changes. The change of ownership must be registered with the relevant authority. The (new) buyer/owner of the car has 30 days from the date of sale to transfer the car’s title in his/her name. He/she must do the following to transfer the car’s title:

  • If the car is bought from a dealer, then the dealer does the paperwork to transfer the title.
  • If the car is bought from a private person then the new buyer must take the seller with him/her to the county tax office to check whether the car’s title is clear of any legal issues.
  • The seller must also provide the new buyer with a signed vehicle title application, power of attorney or release of lien, his/her name and address, date of sale and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
  • Proof of ownership of liability insurance must be shown.
  • The required fees must be paid.

If the used car is defective, then it may be covered under the state’s lemon law, especially when the manufacturer’s original warranty is still valid. This however means that it applies to relatively newer cars only.

What are the important things mentioned in the Texas DMV buying used car guide?

The official guide to buying a used car, that the Texas DMV has compiled, stresses that the most important step is checking the vehicle history report. Secondly, make sure that when you are buying a used car from a dealer, they inform you whether the vehicle comes with a warranty or not as they are liable to do so by law.

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