Avoid These Ten Common and Costly Mistakes When Buying a Used Car

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10. Not buying a car from the right person. Make sure the person who is selling you the car is the person listed as the titled owner. Ask for a copy of their ID. If two people are listed as titled owners, you will need BOTH PEOPLE to sign as sellers. Tip: If someone tells you it’s their car simply because they are driving it…run away.


9. Not getting the title. The TITLE is the document that transfers ownership. If a seller hands you a registration, that’s helpful to verify information, but cannot be used for a sale. In Louisiana, titles are brown, and slightly smaller than an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper–if you don’t have that, you will not be able to complete the transfer.

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8. Not getting a copy of an out-of-state-license for an out-of-state vehicle. If the seller has an out of state title- like if the car is titled in Texas- the seller needs to provide a copy of their out-of-state drivers license. Alternatively, the title & bill of sale must be notarized in a state other than Louisiana, or the seller can provide a notarized affidavit stating that he is not a resident of Louisiana and list his out of state address. If the documents submitted were notarized in Louisiana, and the seller cannot provide an out-of-state drivers license, it is assumed that the registered owner shown on the out-of-state title has become a resident of Louisiana and must pay use tax. A “double transfer” will be processed and taxes are due on both transactions.


7. You buy a vehicle with a salvage title. Many good cars have salvage titles, but use extra care and ask about repairs and how the vehicle sustained damage. A salvage/reconstructed title means at  one point in time, the vehicle was declared a total loss, meaning it had sustained damage equivalent to 75% or more of its retail value. The flag on the title will remain with the vehicle.


6. Not getting it notarized. In Louisiana, title transfers MUST BE NOTARIZED. This requires either (a) a notary or (b) affidavit by witness. If a notary cannot be present, two witnesses can watch the buyer and the seller sign the title. The witnesses sign their names where indicated under the buyer’s signature. The buyer will bring the title and one of the witnesses to the notary, and the notary will complete the Acknowledgement of Witness section of the title.

5. Not getting an odometer statements. You will need to know the correct mileage for vehicles 9 years old or newer. You do not need to know mileage on cars 10 years or older.

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4. Not having insurance. Louisiana law requires that proof of liability insurance be provided at the time of registration of a vehicle. Acceptable proof of liability insurance includes:

–Copy of insurance policy or binder; or

–Copy of I.D. card issued by insurance company; or

–Copy of declaration page; or

–Written statement from the insurance company or agent. This statement must be on letterhead stationery, signed by representative of company/agent, and include full description of the vehicle, including the VIN.


3. Not asking about successions. If the owner has passed away and a family member wants to sell their car, certain documents will be required to process the transfer. What is needed depends on the circumstances. Sometimes a succession was never opened. Sometimes it was opened, but not closed. Sometimes it has been fully completed. The circumstances will dictate who needs to sign the title & bill of sale.

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2. Forgetting about sales tax. Louisiana law requires that a tax be imposed on the sale or use of any motor vehicle, automobile, motorcycle, truck, , trailer, , motor home, or any other vehicle subject to the vehicle registration license tax. Sales/use tax must be collected on all transfers of motor vehicles based on the selling price as shown on the notarized bill of sale or dealer invoice or as written on the back of the title

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1. Not getting all the free advice possible. Before you buy, ask Big Easy Notary & Auto Title! Advice is always free. Call us, 985-626-4114, email us [email protected] or Facebook us www.facebook.com/bigeasynotary. We’re happy to help you! We’re open 9-5 Monday through Friday and Saturdays 10-2.

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5 Comments on "Avoid These Ten Common and Costly Mistakes When Buying a Used Car"

  1. These are all really notable mistakes to avoid. Purchasing a used car is also a great idea if you’re looking to save money on a vehicle. It’s important to make sure you take time finding exactly the right one for you, but that process can be fun and worth the deal! Thanks so much for sharing your ideas!

  2. When you are buying a used car, lot of things has to be taken care off. This article is very informative and it clearly explains the common mistakes that are made.

  3. liz. Nielsen | January 5, 2020 at 6:52 am |

    What if the car you need to transfer title and registration was free do you pay sales tax on it in Louisiana.

  4. Well is there taxes on a car that was free? Also how tax is thereon it, what say you paid 1.00 or up to say 100.00 how much tax would you pay, also if the person you are buying the car from got it as a act of donation to them and they singed the back of the title but has never gotten it in there name, do you have to do a double transfer

  5. Over this weekend I traded a motorcycle for a car but the title was signed to that person but that person never got it transfer would I had to get it double transfer?

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