Tips For Buying A Car In Arizona

a car sales room

Both new and used vehicles are being sold for record-high prices right now. As a result, you will want to be careful if you’re in the market for a vehicle at the moment.

If you don’t take the right approach to buying a new car or buying a used car, you might end up paying more for it than you should. You may also find that new or used vehicles might not be everything you bargained for after buying them.

We’ve created a list of tips for buying a car that will help you purchase a new or used vehicle successfully. We hope you’ll put these car-buying tips to good use so that you’re able to walk away with one of the best cars in the end.

Verify the Seller’s Information and Vehicle Title

Before you even think about buying a car from a private seller, you will want to make sure that they have a title for it. You will also want to make sure that the seller’s information matches all of the information listed on the title.

You should sneak a peek at the title for a vehicle a look at:

  • The owner’s legal name and address
  • The vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • The license plate number
  • The make and model of the vehicle
  • The mileage on the vehicle the last time it was sold

You should then compare all of this information to a seller’s photo ID and any documentation that a seller can provide you for a vehicle, including the registration.

By doing all of this, you’ll be able to see to it that the car you would like to buy is rightfully owned by the person who is selling it. If the person selling a car is someone other than the person listed on the title for it, you will want to ask to see a notarized power of attorney or another document proving that they have the legal authority to sell a vehicle.

Verify the Vehicle Information and Vehicle History

After verifying the seller’s information, you should also take time to verify the vehicle information. You can accomplish this by looking for a vehicle’s VIN number in several different places.

You can find the VIN for a vehicle on its title. But you should also be able to locate it on the dashboard of a vehicle and on the driver’s side door jamb. You want to make sure all of these VIN numbers are the same prior to purchasing a vehicle.

Once all of that is done, you should spend some time learning about the history of a vehicle. You should be able to do this by obtaining a CARFAX vehicle history report for it. The more you’re able to find out about a vehicle, the better you will feel about purchasing it.

Inspect the Vehicle Condition

Of all the tips for buying a car listed here, this one is going to be one of the most important. You will need to inspect the condition of a vehicle from bumper to bumper to make sure that you don’t end up with a car that’s going to break down on you before long.

In a perfect world, you should bring in a mechanic that you trust to take a look at a car to see what kind of condition it’s in. They’ll be able to alert you to any potential problems with a car that could cost you a pretty penny to fix later on.

You can also take some steps to ensure a vehicle is in good condition. For example, you can:

  • Test the keys for a car to see that they work
  • Look for any water damage that may have been done to the interior of a car
  • Ask about any dents, dings, etc. that aren’t listed on a car’s vehicle history report

Additionally, it would be worth checking to see if there are any outstanding recalls for a car. Ask a seller to take care of these recalls unless you’re OK with the idea of doing it yourself.

Confirm Any Vehicle Liens

You don’t ever want to purchase a vehicle that has a lien or, worse, multiple liens on it. A lien is a document that allows another party to take legal possession of an asset if a debt is not repaid. These are two main types of liens.

Financial Liens

Financial liens are the most common types of liens put on vehicles. More often than not, these liens are tied to the financing that people take out to buy cars.

If the person who owns a car that you’re interested in buying financed it and hasn’t finished paying off their original auto loan, they will need to do this before their lender will remove a lien from their car’s title.

Alternative Liens

While financial liens are the types of liens that will be found on cars in most cases, there are also alternative liens that might come into play. These are liens that are placed on vehicles when people fail to pay back taxes, child support, etc.

Unlike financial liens that are usually marked right on a car’s actual title, alternative liens are typically added electronically. So you may need to do some digging around on your own to see if there are any alternative liens on a car’s title.

Transfer the Vehicle Title

If you reach this point and you’re still interested in buying a car after finding out more about it, you will need to work with the car’s seller to transfer the vehicle title for it into your name. You can visit the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to do this. You will also have the option to visit an authorized third-party DMV service to get this done.

Either way, you will need to work to transfer a vehicle’s title into your name within 15 days of buying it. Otherwise, you might be subjected to fees that will make buying a car more expensive than it has to be.

Necessary Paperwork for Buying a Used Car in Arizona

In order to transfer a vehicle’s title into your name, you will need to have certain paperwork on hand when you visit a DMV or third-party DMV service. This paperwork will include:

  • The bill of sale for a car
  • The completed title for a car
  • An application form for a new title and registration for a car
  • Lien-release documents, if necessary

If you don’t have any of these documents handy, it could slow down the car-buying process for you and make it difficult to put a car in your name.

What’s a Bill of Sale?

A bill of sale for a car is essentially going to be a receipt for it that shows that you purchased it from the previous owner. It will need to include things like:

  • Your name and the name of the seller
  • The VIN for the vehicle you bought
  • The price you paid for a vehicle

If a seller didn’t provide you with a bill of sale for a car that you bought for them, you will want to contact them ASAP to obtain one.

How Do You Complete the Vehicle Title?

Towards the bottom of a vehicle’s title, there will be a section with “release interest in the vehicle” at the top of it. The person who is selling a car will need to fill out this section before you’re able to buy it from them. They will need to:

  • Add your full legal name to the title
  • Sign and date the title on the appropriate line
  • Provide a current odometer reading for the car that’s being sold

This is another very important document when it comes to selling a car.

Are There Fees for Private Party Car Sales in Arizona?

The good news is that you won’t be subjected to any additional fees when it comes to buying a car in Arizona. You will, however, need to pay to have a title transferred into your name. You will also need to pay for a new registration for a vehicle and pay for new license plates for it.

There will also be a vehicle license tax on most vehicles. But the total cost of this tax will depend on everything from the price you paid for a car to the condition that it’s in.

Be Wary of These Common Tricks

Most people who are selling cars will be honest when they’re doing it. But there are, unfortunately, some people who will try to scam you when they’re selling a car. You need to be aware of these common tricks.

Improperly Repaired Vehicles

The seller of a car might tell you that they recently made repairs to a vehicle. But did they make these repairs in the right way?

You should have a mechanic look over a car to ensure that there aren’t any big concerns with it. You will want to walk away from a car sale if it appears as though a vehicle isn’t in good shape.

Stolen Vehicles

Most car thieves won’t have the audacity to try and sell a car that they’ve stolen during a private sale. But someone might attempt to pull the wool over your eyes by doing this to you.

It’s why you need to cross-reference a person’s ID with the information listed on a car’s title. It’s also why you want to steer clear of ever entertaining the idea of buying a car with a missing title.

Manipulated Odometer Reading

If it seems like a car has way fewer miles on it than you might expect, you should ask a seller about this. They might have a good explanation as to why a car doesn’t have more miles on it.

But you might also want to have a mechanic look at an odometer to make sure it hasn’t been tampered with.

The Lemon Law

There is an Arizona Lemon Law in place that is designed to protect you in the event that you buy a lemon car from a dealership. But this same law doesn’t apply to private care sales.

With this in mind, you’ll need to avoid buying a car that could have potential problems. You’re going to be stuck with these issues if you agree to purchase this vehicle.

Put These Tips for Buying a Car to the Test

Now that you know these tips for buying a car, you should test them out by attempting to purchase a vehicle. By working your way through our used car checklist, you should be able to enjoy a successful sale.

If you need a hand with a title transfer, a vehicle registration, or anything else, we would be happy to help you out. Our third-party DMV service is always here to assist you with all your needs.

Check out our blog for additional tips on buying and selling cars.


GG&D provides complete full service vehicle registration & title services. Driver License & ID Services available at all GG&D locations.


GG&D Motor Vehicle Services, LLC was a founding member of the 3rd Party Motor Vehicle Association. We offer vehicle title transfers, license plate replacement, motor vehicle registration, duplicate titles, notary services, temporary permits and other MVD Arizona services. GG&D has locations in Phoenix, Glendale, and Mesa. Find a location near you!

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