Buying a Car in the United States – The Complete Guide

What people don’t know is that buying a car in the United States is not as simple as it sounds

The wait is over! It’s time to buy a car in the United States

Finally you feel financially secure to buy a car in the United States!

You did your math and discovered that you can put a loan in your budget, or even hard-earned the money to buy the car in cash!

That happens a lot around here, doesn’t it?

What people don’t know is that buying a car in the United States is not as simple as it sounds.

It involves some bureaucracy and additional costs that must be taken into account when making the decision.

Are you lost and still don’t know what to do?

Calm down, we are here to help you! 😉

Below you can check out the complete and definitive guide on how to buy a car in the United States, with tips ranging from choosing a car to tricks to avoid making gaffes and common mistakes in traffic.

Come on!

Buying a Car in the United States: your first car – It all starts with an idea!

Very good. At this point, if you still haven’t decided what kind of car to buy, we have some suggestions to make.

Everyone knows how important getting around is to people in the United States.

Whether to go to work, shopping, going to school   and , especially, for leisure time , as some places such as museums or restaurants may be far from you, isn’t it?

Auto Insurance 101: All About US Auto Insurance

That’s why it’s very important to decide what the car’s role will be in your life. Ask yourself, for example:

  1. How many people does my car need to transport?
  2. Do I need to carry tools and heavy objects inside the car?
  3. How far will I go?
  4. Can I find easy parking where I live?

To answer these questions, it’s worth doing a quick car search on the Carfax website .

There they will give you a description about the cars you want to buy and technical data about the vehicle.

The ideal is that your car is always safe, economical and comfortable for the daily needs you have.

Let’s go to a hypothetical situation:

Mr. Clodomiro is a painting helper who has been living in the United States for a few years with his wife and two young children.

He has a 98 Honda Accord that he uses to work and do the monthly groceries and take the kids to school.

The problem is that because it is an older car, the vehicle gives a lot of engine problems and keeps leaving it in hand on cold winter days.

Taking that into account, Mr. Clodomiro decided it was time to exchange his “faithful squire” for a newer, more economical model.

It would be wise of Mr. Clodomiro buy a 2017 Ford Mustang with turbo engine and power steering? 🙄

Well, as tempting as the idea of ​​having a 2017 Ford Mustang with a turbo engine and power steering sounds, a sports car like that wouldn’t help him much in what he really needs on a day-to-day basis.

Besides, does such a car really fit into his family budget? Which brings us to the second point…

Should I finance or buy my car in cash?

If there’s one word that defines the “American dream” it’s ” credit “!

Good credit takes you to good places and makes things easier in the land of “Uncle Sam”, so it is always important to keep a good record on your credit, which is a result of good financial health.

But more important than having good credit is having a healthy financial mindset.

As sensational as your credit is, it will not help you when buying a new car, or rather, when making a (rational) decision to buy a new car.

The question to ask here is very simple:  Do I really need a new car?

Well, if you are familiar with the story of Mr. Clodomiro, it is very likely that the answer is “YES”. 😆

Jokes aside, deciding between buying a car or saving money for other things (like investments, for example) is a difficult and extremely subjective task.

Think carefully and analyze your finances. If it really makes sense for you to have a new car, go for it. If not, why not wait a little longer? 😉

And remember, as important as a car is, it is still considered a liability (a budget expense), so paying cash is always a good idea.

But if you decide to buy a financed car, do a thorough financial analysis of what you’re paying for what you’re getting!

There are many competent finance companies on the market, and it is the task of those who want to have a new car to search for the one that best suits them.

OK. I’ve decided what my car will be – a Porsche 911 😉 – and I’m going to pay for it in cash!

What is the next step?

Car insurance – An important detail that almost no one notices!

It’s time to talk about the dreaded car insurance .

If you felt intimidated, keep calm!

Grab a mug of tea and settle into a comfortable position, as we are experts on the subject and we will explain how it all works now.

Car insurance is not a “seven-headed beast”.

In fact, the purpose of insurance is quite simple: to bring you to the position (health or economic) you were in in the event of an accident .

The subject is extensive and demands a text just for him.

Which will be written by us in the near future.


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It is very important to point out, when buying a car, it is the insurance coverage, the credibility and suitability of the insurer and the price paid for it.

But in short, no low price keeps you safe from insurance that “doesn’t work”.

Let’s go to the example?

If Mr Clodomiro is insured for $20,000 per accident and he crashes my Porsche 911, who do you think is going to pay for my car repair – which by the way will be much more than his insurance value?

Now let’s look at the opposite example. I crash into Mr. Clodomiro and I don’t have enough coverage to pay the hospital’s medical bills.

Who will pay this bill?

Do you realize how the subject “car insurance” is much more complex than just being “cheaper” or “more expensive”?

In the end, choosing insurance solely on the basis of price sounds a little… irresponsible. :'(

Conclusion: It doesn’t pay to pay “cheap” for insurance that won’t cover you for what you deserve/should be covered.

In addition, we have another important factor.

There are some states in the US where car insurance is optional, but in most cases (including Massachusetts) insurance is mandatory for car registration.

In fact, this topic deserves a topic of its own.

All Right – Time to register my new car

If you’ve come this far, it’s because you’re really engaged in buying a new car, or maybe you’ve already bought it!

Now we have the most bureaucratic part of the process: Registering the car.

To explain how this works, we will refer to the acronym DMV several times in the text.

DMV stands for Department of Motor Vehicles , which is nothing more than “Uncle Sam’s DMV”!

It is there that you will face a few good hours of queue to go out with your new plates.

So let’s go by parts.

Who can register a car at the DMV?

The DMV registration rules change all the time, it is important to be aware of any changes in the documentation and it is always good to give them a call before going there to make sure you are within the rules.

Massachusetts car registration requirements

There is a lot of talk about changes in such guidelines, but this is a very sensitive subject.

And remember: the requirements for registering a car in your name are very different from those that prove you are fit to drive!

Having a car in your name only means that the property belongs to you and that the taxes have been paid for it.

What documents do I need to bring to register a car at the DMV?

In addition to the documents mentioned above, it is also essential to have a valid RMV1 and the purchase and sale document ( Title ) filled in correctly.

The RMV1 is a standard form that informs the intent of registering a car.

It contains vehicle, buyer and seller data and a valid insurance stamp signed by a licensed insurance agent.

Sounds complicated and bureaucratic, doesn’t it? And it is!

That’s why it’s very important that the RMV1 is completed by the dealership that sold you the car and signed by the licensed insurance agent, who will certify the validity of the insurance.

Only these two steps make the form valid for use in registration.

As for the purchase and sale document, the hole is much lower.

This is because the DMV will only accept the document as valid if it is completed in pen and there are no erasures, that is… NO. HE CAN. ERR.

In the case of a “slight error”, a letter of correction signed by a notary public may resolve the issue.

But if the error is serious, only a duplicate of the document will serve in the act of registration.

Were you afraid to fill out your own title and do something wrong? No worries, we got you!

If you still have doubts, be sure to ask your dealership or insurance agent for help.

It’s better to be sure of what you’re doing and not take risks so you don’t have more “headaches”.

Oh, remembering that the new  title will arrive at your address via mail within 40 to 60 days after registration.

Only with him will you be able to sell the car to someone else, so once he arrives, keep it in a very safe place!

Even if I do everything right, is there still a chance my registration will go wrong?

It happens!

Sometimes the employee is in a bad mood, other times you wait in line for hours and are never answered.

After all, we are talking about a public office…

See? It’s not just Brazil that has problems. 😆

But if you want to avoid the hassle of having to go through this bureaucratic process, you can always hire a dispatcher to do the job for you.

In fact, this is a very common practice of insurance agencies (at least in the good ones).

They offer the forwarding and registration service along with the insurance and you only need to pay for the tax and the forwarding fee.

Ah, that reminds me of something…

How much will I pay to register my car?

First of all, welcome to Massachusetts!

One of the cruelest states when it comes to taxes and fees. 😳

With that said, let’s get to the “stab” calculation.

In addition to the initial insurance costs, you will still pay 6.25% of the car purchase price in tax. So if your car cost $100,000.00 like my Porsche 911, you will still pay $6,250 to the state as tax on that car.

But wait, it’s not over yet! o_O

In addition to the tax, you still pay a fee of $135 for the license plates, the new  title that will be issued and the registration document in your name.

That is, it’s not just the SAME value!

And after registration, do I have to do anything else?

Yup. In addition to placing the license plates on the car, you will have 7 days to carry out the mechanical inspection of the vehicle to obtain a certification so that you can drive your new car peacefully.

This inspection is carried out annually and must be strictly followed.

Otherwise, nasty fines will be applied to your car.

If the vehicle does not pass the inspection, a temporary permit will be issued and you will have an additional period of 60 days to be able to use the car, as long as you prove that you are trying to solve the mechanical problems there.

Final considerations

Phew… That’s a lot to know, isn’t it?

But you did it and now you know everything you need to buy a car in the United States.

In addition, because you have come this far, we are going to give you a few tips to take care of your new heritage and comply with US traffic rules. Look that:

  1. Take good care of your car:  Mechanical repairs and “golden hammer” here in the United States are quite expensive. Don’t forget to take care of your car to avoid further problems and unnecessary expenses. Remember that the insurance works differently from the Brazilian one, that is, there is no insurance for car defects, only in case of accident or theft.
  2. Always pay your insurance on time: If your insurance is delayed, the insurance company can inform the DMV that your car is not insured and your license plate can be revoked without you even knowing that this has happened. This means more expense in fines and you risk having your car towed away.
  3. Remember care during the winter: Snow tires, maintenance of the air conditioning system and the use of a good oil for your engine are good tips to keep your “powerful” active even in harsh winter times.
  4. Carefully obey traffic laws: Speeding, disobedience of “STOP” signs and parking tickets are champions among Brazilians in the United States. Always pay attention to these, in fact, ALL local traffic laws. This saves you from spending on unexpected fines and even makes your car insurance cheaper! 😎
  5. Become a member of AAA:  Triple A works  as a mini insurance for your car. For a small annual fee, you’ll have access to full assistance for malfunctions or even misfortunes like a flat tire or a flat battery. And even if they can’t solve the problem, a tow truck will take your car to the mechanic of your choice. The “great insight” is that the triple A is much cheaper than the insurance tow truck and the service is much more efficient. It’s worth signing up .

We are done with this post, but there are still many other cool things to read on our blog.


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