When closing a deal on a new or used car, paperwork and other documentation must be submitted and completed before the deal is finalized. And the last thing you want is to make a trip to the dealer only to discover you’re short one or more documents. The following list is composed of those items you may need in your possession as you seal the deal.
1. A valid driver’s license. You carry your driver’s license with you, but is it still valid? Pull out your driver’s license before you head to the dealer to verify that it hasn’t expired. If it has, then you won’t be driving your new ride home until it has been renewed!
2. Your trade-in’s title. If you’re trading in your vehicle for another one, you need to hold its title. The title is clear for transfer if you own the car outright. Otherwise, if there is a co-signer listed or a lien on the vehicle, you’ll need to settle with this person first. Be careful here — if you make a mistake, you’ll have to touch base with the Department of Motor Vehicle to make a correction, a time consuming task. You might also contact your dealer ahead of time to find out how best to handle the title.
3. Your trade-in’s registration. A title is one thing, but your vehicle also must have a valid registration. Typically, that document can be found in your glove box along with the vehicle’s inspection and insurance information. While you’re at it, verify that the tags affixed to the license plate are current.
(See Also — How to Resolve a Private Seller Lien)
4. Current insurance coverage. What you don’t want to do is to drive off the dealer’s lot without insurance. Typically, insurance is required if you borrow money to buy a car. Your lender will insist on coverage and certain inclusions at that. If you pay cash for a car or insurance is not a required purchase consideration, then you’re liable once you get behind the wheel of the car. Contact your insurer and arrange for coverage to commence the moment the deal is finalized.
5. Approved loan documentation. Unless the dealer is working out the loan details on your behalf, you need to do so at your end. Visit your bank or credit union to obtain loan information. At the same time, you can find a car loan elsewhere. Apply for a car loan and once approved, bring your loan documentation with you. If you’re obtaining financing through the dealer, then you’ll need to provide proof of income. Your dealer may also ask for your approval to obtain credit information and may contact your employer to verify employment information.
6. An extra set of keys. Car keys and fobs are not paperwork nor documentation! But if you are trading in a car, the dealer will request all keys be relinquished. How odd it may seem if you have only one key or fob to turn in? Key fobs especially are expensive to replace and the dealer may subtract $200 or more from your trade-in price if you have only one key fob available.
7. Cash on hand. Yes, money also does not count as paperwork or documentation. What it does do is cover those costs not part of your loan package. In fact, it is simply better to pay for tags or other miscellaneous fees separately, instead of rolling those costs into your car loan. Furthermore, if you have down payment funds to supply, then you’ll need cash too. Better yet, leave the money in your checking account and supply a debit card as this works same as cash and offers an automatic receipt.
If your deal involves a trade-in, make sure your personal items are removed from the car before you relinquish same.
To sum up, the better organized you are, the shorter your time at the dealership. Unless, of course, you enjoy sitting in waiting rooms watching daytime television drama while your spouse drives home to retrieve the extra keys, the loan documentation, or other paperwork.