So You Just Bought a Used Car… Now What?

From initial inspection to purchasing car insurance, Jerry walks you through the steps to follow after purchasing a used vehicle.
Written by Cameron Thiessen
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
If you’ve recently
purchased a used car
, there are some essential things you’re going to need to do before cruising off on your long-overdue road trip. For starters, you’ll need to purchase insurance, organize and secure your paperwork, and schedule a maintenance inspection.
Regardless of whether you go through a
private seller
or a dealership, buying a used car can be a great way to get on the road and zooming without breaking the bank. But while dealerships intentionally make it very easy to buy a new car, buying a used car comes with some added complications, like handling your own paperwork and dealing with the possible unexpected maintenance issues that often come with a pre-owned vehicle.
Don’t worry though, because not only is
car insurance
comparison shopping super app going to walk you through all the most important steps to take following your used car purchase, we’re also going to find you the cheapest premiums on the insurance coverage you need. That way, you can keep on saving money without even thinking about it!
Compare auto insurance policies
No spam or unwanted phone calls · No long forms
Find insurance savings

Get car insurance

It’s a good idea to purchase insurance before you drive your new car away from the dealership or seller. In fact, all states—except New Hampshire—require drivers to carry
proof of insurance
in order to legally operate their cars on public roads.
If you’re in one of those 49 states that aren’t NH, you’ll be required to purchase at least a mandatory minimum amount of
liability insurance
. But remember that while liability insurance is all that’s required by law, it’s usually a good idea to look into other forms of coverage depending on your needs, such as
collision coverage
comprehensive coverage
If you’re totally at a loss of where to start,
is the easiest way to find car insurance fast, while knowing you’re getting the best price. It’s so easy that you’ll be able to download the app, shop for a policy, select one, and get it set up before driving away with your latest used car purchase!

Register your vehicle and organize title transfer

Depending on the state you’re in, there’s usually a 30-day grace period within which you need to register your car. After that, driving without proper
vehicle registration
becomes illegal. If you purchase a used car from a dealership, they will often set you up with registration and license plates on the spot, but this isn’t always the case.
If not, you’ll probably have to go to the DMV to register your vehicle. Make sure to bring any paperwork you do have—most importantly, proof of insurance.
As for the title, dealerships will usually provide you with a car’s title if you paid in full—otherwise, they might hold onto it while you are still paying off the loan.
A title transfer may be more complicated when purchasing from a private seller. You’ll likely have to visit the DMV with a
pink slip
that has been signed by the seller, but this process can vary depending on your state, so make sure to research the local process for
title transfers

Schedule an inspection

If you’re buying a used car, especially from a private seller, there’s a chance it has an issue that caused the seller to want to get rid of it in the first place. It could be that they were just trying to get the
best resale value
out of their car, but there could also be some hidden issues that you may not have noticed on your test drive.
Pro tip It’s a good idea to have set aside at least $1000 for unexpected repairs when buying a used car.
Schedule a full maintenance inspection with your mechanic so you know that none of your vehicle’s vital components are on the verge of breaking on you. You can also often pay a mechanic to pre-inspect a vehicle with you before you decide to purchase it.
A good mechanic will also be able to tell you if there are any car recalls you should know about for your car.
Key Takeaway A skilled and trusted mechanic is a driver’s best friend. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have a best friend who’s also a good mechanic! Ask them for help.

Plan maintenance

Once your car’s been inspected, you’ll have a good idea of whether anything needs to be fixed immediately in order for the car to run safely. Your mechanic will also likely inform you what sort of maintenance your vehicle will probably need down the road to improve performance, reliability, and longevity. Follow your mechanic’s advice and do them a favor by
scheduling maintenance
well in advance.
Remember, maintenance also includes ensuring that the oil and oil filter have been changed recently. Other pieces of regular maintenance to be mindful of are
tire rotations
, battery replacement, and
brake pad
/rotor maintenance.
Key Takeaway Yes your mechanic wants to make money off of you, but if they’re not an irresponsible jerk, they probably also want you to be safe on the roads, so you should follow their advice and be consistent with routine maintenance checks. What you don’t know definitely can hurt you.

Read the owner’s manual

We know what you’re thinking… Reading a manual? Boring. Ok, it might not be a poolside page-turner, but your owner’s manual should be your number one source of information on your car.
Reading your owner’s manual is the best way to familiarize yourself with your recent purchase, including manufacturer-suggested regular maintenance schedules. Other valuable info you might find in your owner’s manual include:

Keep your paperwork together

Unless you plan on driving your car until it explodes, you’re probably going to want to sell it eventually. Keeping your paperwork organized and together makes the
car selling process
much easier, and it also helps you keep track of things you might need in a pinch—like proof of insurance.
You should keep a folder in your glove box containing:
  • The vehicle’s registration
  • Proof of insurance
In a safe place—not in your car—keep a folder with the following papers:
  • Bill of sale
  • The car’s title
  • Tax receipts
  • A copy of your registration papers
  • Other insurance papers you may have
  • Financing documents
  • Maintenance history—this one is huge, because lots of people shirk the responsibility of keeping track of repairs and maintenance, especially on old cars. If you have, it goes a long way in setting your vehicle apart on the used market.

Finding cheap insurance for your used car

The first step after finalizing a sale should almost always be to insure the vehicle you just purchased. In the past, shopping for car insurance has always been notoriously annoying, and even after lots of shopping around, you can still end up with a premium that just doesn’t seem fair.
breaks this trend by partnering with over 50 different insurance companies all at once. We compare quotes, then provide you with a customized list of the best policies that meet your needs—and your budget!
All you have to do is download the
trustworthy insurance shopping super app
, enter a few quick pieces of information to build your profile, and you’ll be on your way to finding the cheapest and best car insurance for your used vehicle!
The best part is the savings! Jerry users save more than $800 a year on car insurance alone!
Are you overpaying for your car insurance?
Compare quotes and find out in 45 seconds.
No spam or unwanted phone calls · No long forms
No spam or unwanted phone calls · No long forms · No fees
icon4.717k Ratings
5M+Drivers Joined
7M+Cars Garaged
Are you overpaying for car insurance?
Compare quotes and find out in 45 seconds.
Try Jerry

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

No long forms
No spam or unwanted phone calls
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings