Saturday, March 27, 2010

Road Trip -- buying a car?

Hey Road Tripper!

I'm a big fan of your book, which is what prompted me to ask you a question. You never really mention the process of buying a car in the states (as an outsider [I'm from Ireland]), so I wondered what your view was.

Thanks in advance,

Alan from Ireland


Hi Alan --

Thanks for writing in to Road Trip USA -- and glad you like my book! Taking road trips is a lot more fun than buying a car in the US -- it's a very complicated process, and it varies completely from state to state. (There is no "national" license or registration process -- every state makes up its own rules.)

Some states have mandatory safety exams for each car -- like the MOT in the UK (and Ireland?) -- but most US states don't...

The actual purchase is pretty straightforward -- you hand over the cash, and the owner signs over the title (sometime called a "pink slip"). Then it gets complicated -- the new owner has to register the car, proving that likely drivers are covered by insurance and (sometimes, like here in California...) that the car does not cause too much pollution (you need to take the car to a special center and pay $50 to get it a "Smog Test").

Besides having to get all the paperwork together, you also pay have to fees depending on the sale price of the car -- maybe $100 - 200. This is a real pain of a process, because the gov't Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is famously under-staffed and full of the crankiest employees imaginable, and lines of "customers" waiting for 4 hours or more.

Once you've done all this, then you can drive off into the sunset, and hit the road.


Happy Trails,

Jamie Jensen
Road Trip USA




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