You just signed all the paperwork. Your new car is financed, has been spruced up, and is ready to go home. Now what? You’ll have a small window to complete some of the less-exciting tasks associated with buying a car, and we recommend getting them done right away so you can ride off into the sunset care-free.
Once you have decided on a car, you should call your insurance company so they can quote you for the coverage you need. Once you buy the car, you can simply give them the VIN number, and they can activate the new insurance policy and payment right away. This is a simple step that should be complete before you drive off the lot. The insurance company will either mail or email you your proof of insurance for use at the DMV and to keep in your vehicle.
When you buy your car from a dealership, they will likely set you up with a temporary registration (usually 30 days), which allows you to drive legally until you get the vehicle registered with your state. If you buy your car used, you’ll need to get it registered before you can drive it.
Each state has different regulations, but in general, you’ll need ID, proof of insurance, the title of the car if you bought it outright (or your loan paperwork if you didn’t), and proof of address. Some states also require an emissions inspection, which can be completed at your local dealership or shop.
You’ll take all of this paperwork to the DMV, where they will issue you your license plates and registration paperwork. This can cost upwards of several hundred dollars, so call ahead to find out what kind of payment your DMV accepts. You’ll need to update the registration annually, if you buy a new car, or if you move to a new state.
Review the Owner’s Manual
Believe it or not, the owner’s manual is provided for you to actually read over. Take some time to get to know the ins and outs of your new car, and make sure you know emergency functions, like the emergency trunk release, spare tire kit, how to pop the front hood, and hazard lights. This may sound silly, but also get to know your windshield wipers right away. Have you even been in an unfamiliar car when a downpour starts? These nuances can save you headaches later.
The Humble Mechanic has some other post-car purchase tips. Check them out here!