How To Buy A Used Car In California?

How to buy a used car in california

Want to buy a car and wondering how to buy a used car in California? There is good news for everyone who dreams of owning an automobile. Thanks to bumper sales, the used car market is back in vogue in the States. There was a boom in the sales of used cars during the pandemic. In what has taken the whole of America by surprise, more and more Americans are buying used cars. The market recorded an amazing 40 million used cars being sold in 2019 as per reports.

How To Buy A Used Car In California- Why Used Cars

Why Used Cars

The advantages of buying a used car are that though they have aged a few years, with their value having depreciated, there still lies quite a few years of use in them. Yes, you do need to ask some questions like what is good mileage for a used car, how old is the vehicle, etc, but many times you can really get a great deal.

The usual buyers in the used car industry are the young, lower-income individuals and couples. However, there are many reasons for these rising sales numbers in the Used Car Market in 2020. One of the reasons for this is the potential lack of new products hitting the markets due to the shortage of raw materials and lockdown enabled production blockage across the manufacturing sector. The shortage of semiconductor chips has also hit the automobile sector badly. This has given rise to numerous Americans asking how to buy a used car in California!

There are many reasons why you will buy a new or used car. Either you are a first-time buyer of a car and want to try your hand out on a used model before investing in a brand-new car. Or the pandemic makes you paranoid enough to avoid the public transportations system. Or the need for another vehicle in the family garage to run daily errands like dropping the children off at their friend’s homes or nearest parks or even to visit the supermarket.

As the new models show up, you will see the older models getting sold at lucrative prices and that is your cue to get into the markets to snare a good used model as per your taste.

How to buy a used car in California? California is one of the states which has a thriving car culture. People are more inclined to buy amazing cars- sometimes even unique and custom-designed used cars which are considered classic. There are many places that offer a good deal when it comes to buying a used car. You can begin by checking out Los Angeles or San Diego or even San Francisco. The states have a good collection of both the regular as well as the occasional rare vehicles that many buyers covet.

If you are from California and you are wondering how to buy a used car in California, let us tell you that we have got you covered. It can be quite a tedious and daunting task to buy a used car in California, the state famously known as the Golden State. The various taxes, long-drawn-out procedures, and the numerous options available can create quite a few hassles for the buyer. Read on to find out what to look for when buying a used car or what to do after buying a used car among other pertinent questions you might have.

How To Buy A Used Car In California And What To Look For When Buying A Used Car?

What To Look For When Buying A Used Car

Many times, it so happens that you end up buying a product without fully deciding the purpose. The end result – you being stuck with a product you don’t need or will never use or you making a loss if you try to sell it again.

We don’t want you to be confused about what to look for when buying a used car. We will provide you with the ultimate checklist that you need to ensure you don’t make a wrong choice.

How to buy a used car in California? Now as a buyer entering the used car market, there are so many things for you to worry about for instance what is good mileage for a used car, how old is the vehicle, etc. Here is a list of some of the questions plaguing the minds of the buyer are:

  1. How old is the vehicle?
  2. How old are the tires?
  3. What is good mileage for a used car?
  4. Do the brakes work fine?
  5. Does it have proper documentation?
  6. Do the lights and air conditioning inside work?

The answer to how to buy a used car in California is not simple. We understand it can overwhelm the best of us. Hence the first piece of advice we have for you is always test drive the car. While you are testing it out, check for the air conditioning. See if the lights are working perfectly, whether the visibility element is met. Also see if the car gives out any troublesome sound both while starting up or while being driven, which would probably mean some problem that needs fixing.

Our second piece of advice when you ask how to buy a used car in California is to always get a mechanic to go with you. They are tuned to issues even before you notice them. They will know the minimum overhaul that needs to be done before a vehicle can be safe to use. We will revisit this when we discuss what to do after buying a used car. A diagnostics check will quickly bring to the fore any issues that need urgent attention or are drastic enough to reject the vehicle. Once you understand the overall quality of the car, you can even drive hard bargains to get the vehicle at a price that is both comfortable and perfect enough for you and the vehicle that you are purchasing.

The Third answer to how to buy a used car in California will be to do your research so that you are clear what vehicle you are going to drive home. Research the prices and check your budget so that you do not come up short. Prices are dependent on where you decide to buy the car from. If you buy it from a dealer, you are looking at a slightly higher price as compared to when you buy a car from a private seller. We will discuss the topic of how to buy a car from a private seller in a while, but right now, let’s talk about what you are paying for.

One of the biggest aspects affecting buyers thinking about how to buy a used car in California is the various taxes that they have to incur when buying a car. Please know that irrespective of whether you are buying a new car or an old one, you will end up paying various taxes to the Government.

The usual break up of price when buying a car will include the following:

  • Sales tax (7.25%)
  • Title transfer fee ($15)
  • California registration fee ($58)
  • Additional fees include documentation, California Highway Patrol fee, basically fees associated with going green as part of reducing carbon footprints which approximately comes to $100.

How to buy a used car in California? For a used car, these charges will be incurred along with a few additional things.

You might even have to apply for a car loan in case the price of the model that you want to buy is quite steep. A car loan makes it easy for you to buy your dream wheels without really burning a hole in your pocket.

There are numerous avenues for consumers to reach out to for finance regarding an automobile purchase. You will need to figure out a few details such as what is the purchase price of your vehicle, whether you are aware of the vehicle identification number (you can easily find the VIN etched on the side door of the driver or near the dashboard near the driver).

Now that we have discussed the price and source and arrived at the final choice of car, we can discuss…

How To Buy A Used Car In California And What To Do After Buying A Used Car

What To Do After Buying A Used Car

What you do after buying a used car is basically understand what the paperwork involved in this transaction is. If you buy from a dealer, you get the advantage of a standardized procedure with a fixed set of procedures and protocols. With a private seller, what we save in terms of a bargained down price, we end up spending with other elements that need a detailed analysis. More on this in a while.

Make sure you are aware of the buyer’s guide which needs to be given by the dealer. This document contains vital pieces of information such as what is the warranty status of the used car if there are any mechanical problems plaguing the vehicle. It also holds information on what is the seller willing to pay as a percentage of repair costs if the warranty on the vehicle is raised by you.

One of the first things that you need to do is register the vehicle with the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). There is a late fee charge if you exceed a period of 10 days after buying the vehicle. For this, you will need to verify the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). There is a lot of paperwork that needs to be sent to the DMV. The following documents are important:

Once you are done buying the car, please ensure you register the vehicle and also possess a certificate of ownership. The DMV will take a few days to finalize the processing of your registration.

The State of California has made it mandatory for the buyer to seek Car Insurance. You can approach an insurance agent after you buy the car to work out the insurance rates for your vehicle. There are different rates for different models of cars. The insurance rates for an SUV will be different from the insurance rates for a family car.

How To Buy A Car From A Private Seller?

How To Buy A Car From A Private Seller

Where do you find good private sellers to buy a used car from? This is always the number one query on the list of people wondering how to buy a used car in California, especially how to buy a car from a private seller. We advise searching on craigslist used cars for sale pages as the first step to owning a used car. One of the first things we would like to emphasize here is to do your due diligence when buying from a private seller. Buying from a private seller entails more legwork in terms of following up on everything about the used car. You need to know what is good mileage for a used car and whether the vehicle you are buying guarantees that.

Please note that usually there is very little or no guarantee of a refund in case you are dissatisfied with the vehicle you bought (however there are terms and conditions surrounding this. California State Law allows a buyer to return a car and ask for a refund if the vehicle costs less than $40,000. And in case the dealer rejects your appeal for a refund, they need to submit a written reason for denying you the same.

You also do not get any warranties if you purchase the car from a private seller. There can be a potential of being scammed, so be very careful before parting with your hard-earned money when the deal is being done with a private seller. One way of ensuring there is some semblance of authenticity is to find out whether they feature on the craigslist used cars for sale page.


In conclusion, we would like to tell you that whether it be a new car or a used car, you are going to be buying what most consumers consider as one of their priciest assets. If you are thinking about how to buy a used car in California, think about all the pros and cons of buying from a recognized dealer or a private seller.

Weigh in the advantages and disadvantages of buying a type of car with that of another model. Always have alternatives and a Plan B. Search the internet to do enough research or scout through craigslist used cars for sale listing but do enough background research that you are completely satisfied before putting your money on the final choice. You might also need to compare the cost of buying the used car with the price of a new car just to check if there is a possibility of bagging a new pair of wheels at the same price. Well, we hope this article helps you with making a decision. Happy driving!

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