Nuts and Bolts of Buying a Used Car

Few things are more exciting than the purchase of another car. Even a new-to-you car is full of promise. But getting from the point of wanting to the point of having can take a little work, some of it frustrating.  But, as we have seen time and time again in the junk car business, (since we get some better cars, too), it can pay off in the end when the buyer is the new owner of a nice car.

If the buyer knows the car they want, it makes it easier to start with the options and mileage requirements. 

Make sure you have  your paperwork in order. ;)   

Make sure you have  your paperwork in order. ;)


Since The Kelly Bluebook has now been usurped by Manheim auction pricing for exotic cars, the buyer will need to have access if looking for something in the exotic range. Taking the time to get a Carfax and Autocheck report are worthwhile, too.

 It’s important to remember that most times a car is a consumable, and not an investment unless it's a truly rare car.

Here is a free checklist for buyers who are new to buying cars in general.  Some other things to remember:

Ask the owner for repair documents and warranty info. Do the research, to learn the issues of the model and year. It’s important for the buyer to be comfortable with the condition of the car. Once the purchaser chooses a vehicle to purchase, there is a list of things which have to be completed. If purchased from a dealer, they can handle the paperwork for a fee.

  • Bill of sale

The DMV recommends a bill of sale, even though the State of Arizona doesn’t require it. You can find out more about that here.

The bottom line is, get a bill of sale, even if the owner signs the title over to you. The bill of sale will have the seller’s name and address, the odometer reading, and other applicable information and will ease the title transfer process.


  • License plate
Give the old license plate to the seller. It might be worth a partial refund to him.

Give the old license plate to the seller. It might be worth a partial refund to him.

If you’re the buyer, make sure the seller takes his old license plate. The new owner has no rights to the old license plate but can obtain a temporary plate here.


  • Get a lien release and power of attorney (if applicable). Some liens are listed right on the title. However, since many are not, it is up to the buyer to check for a lien.You can search for a lien online here for a small fee.


  • The buyer and seller should take the paperwork to the local MVD, pay the required fees and taxes. If the buyer does not go to the DMV, it is up to the seller to file the change of ownership paperwork within 14 days.

Proof of vehicle inspection. If the vehicle has a current proof of inspection, the seller will have it. Otherwise  (especially with out-of-state vehicles), an inspection will be necessary.

It's a great state to drive through!

It's a great state to drive through!

Proof of Insurance
 If you have insurance already, your current insurance will cover the car temporarily if it is in your name. But, if you don’t have insurance, you will need to obtain proof to give to the DMV.

Once the vehicle purchase is completed, the buyer becomes the new owner. Cars don’t hold their value, but, over time, can offer many years of service and enjoyment.

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