What to Bring When Buying a Car

How exciting is it to walk into a car dealership and drive out in a brand new car? That excitement can dwindle, though, if you don’t have the right paperwork and information with you. Avoid that roadblock and read our overview of what to bring when buying a car so you’ll be prepared and ready to drive off the lot.

Buying a New Car? Bring These Things

This checklist can help you gather everything you’ll need to buy a new car before you jump into the buying process at the dealership. Check it out:

Your driver’s license. You should be carrying it with you no matter what, but the dealership needs to see that you’re a licensed driver before you drive off in your new car. Make sure it’s valid and not expired.

Proof of insurance. Before you put the keys in your new car’s ignition, you’ll want to be insured. After all, it’s required in most states. You can speed up the purchasing process and avoid delays at the dealership by calling your insurance agent beforehand. Ask them how you can prepare to remove your old vehicle and add your new vehicle to your policy. Be sure to bring your current proof of insurance card to the dealer, too.

Form of payment. Whether you’re using a check, cash, or a loan to make your purchase, you’ll want to have your payment ready. If you’re getting a loan with the dealership, prepare to be there a while to handle all the relevant paperwork. Be prepared to pay a down payment at the dealership, too. Call the dealership before you go and speak to the financing department to see what documents they require — and ask about pre-approved financing.

Recent pay stubs. If you plan on getting a loan through the dealership, they may require you to show proof of your recent employment. Bring a couple of your most recent pay stubs just in case.

Credit score and history. While the dealership will be able to pull your credit score and history, check it yourself, review it and bring it with you when you plan to buy your car. Beforehand, check for signs of unpaid or late bills and resolve them.

Discount information. If you’ve got a discount coming from your credit card company, the dealership, the manufacturer or anyone else, make sure you have all the necessary information with you so you don’t miss out on the deal. Walk through the fine print of the deal slowly, too, so you fully understand the promotion.

A list of references. If you don’t have great credit and are applying for a loan through the dealership, you might also have to supply a list of references who don’t live with you. Have this on hand with the names, business address and contact information of people who can vouch for you.

Trading in Your Car? Bring This Stuff, Too

If you’re going to trade your current vehicle in when you buy your new car, you’ll need a little extra paperwork and preparation to make sure everything goes smoothly. Bring these things to make your car buying and trading process easy:

Current certificate of title. The dealership should help you prepare to transfer your car’s title to them. If you can’t locate your title, contact your local DMV to get a duplicate, but be prepared to pay a fee.

Current vehicle registration. Unless your current car is going to be junked after you trade it, you need to provide the current registration. You should be able to trade it in with expired vehicle registration, but the dealer will probably give you less for it since they’ll have to make it current themselves.

A clean vehicle. You don’t have to get the car washed and detailed, but you’ll want to pull out all of your personal belongings so you don’t get caught up in the deal and forget something that matters to you. You also don’t want to be rude to the dealer and hand over a car full of food wrappers and cups, so do them a favor and tidy it up a bit.

Service records. Have all service and repair information ready, as the dealer will want to know of the vehicle’s previous maintenance beyond the vehicle history report they’ll pull.

Buying a Car Out of State

If you’re buying a car out of state there may be additional fees and paperwork, so it’s a good idea to look up that state’s requirements on their DMV website so there aren’t any surprises. In fact, it pays to do a little extra research on state special requirements, as some states have smog and emissions testing or safety inspections, while others do not.

At American Family Insurance, we want to make sure your new ride gets you from point A to point B without any hiccups in between. Get in touch with your agent and they’ll help you get insurance for your new car and add other optional coverages that’ll give you the peace of mind you deserve while you’re on the road.

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