Buying a used car in California, then moving to Minnesota
April 26, 2014 2:59 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning to buy a used car in the Bay Area soon, then a month later use it to drive across the country to my new home. Do I need to consider anything special as far as taxes, licensing, insurance, etc? I haven't had a car for nearly a decade, so just buying one is daunting, let alone worrying about any additional financial or legal concerns. Is there anything I should know about?
posted by chriswarren to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total)
Speaking from painful experience you must get the title of your car in your possession. California DMV purges their records and if you want to sell or give away your car you will need the title. It took a chunk of time to have the bank provide records of complete payment and all that, California DMV stating that they had no records and MN DMV being difficult about out of state title but having finance records of payment. UGH.
posted by jadepearl at 3:06 PM on April 26, 2014

Yeah based on a similar experience as jade had having the physical title with you is the only big concern. I think some states have tax implications if the car is less than a year old (or something in that range) but I'm guessing that won't apply. Everything else was just the busy work of figuring out and filling out the paperwork.
posted by MillMan at 3:10 PM on April 26, 2014

Response by poster: That's good to know about the record. Thanks. With any luck I'll be able to find a car that I can afford to buy straight up, so I think I'll be able to have the title.

Do I need to worry about anything funky with being doubly taxed or anything like that?
posted by chriswarren at 5:26 PM on April 26, 2014

It looks like you do have to pay registration tax in Minnesota, but you can get a
refund on the California refund tax.
posted by sebastienbailard at 5:47 PM on April 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

You're going to have to pay sales tax in CA and it's really high. Registration fees are also high and you won't be reimbursed all of it. If you can buy the car out of state you could save up to a couple grand depending on how expensive a car you buy.

Also the CA dmv are very slow at turning paperwork around, fyi.
posted by fshgrl at 6:09 PM on April 26, 2014

I have no idea whether this option is available to you, but I purchased a car in Missouri in the mid-1990s and was able to get a Temporary Title which allowed me to legally drive the car to my then-home in Illinois (where I obtained a permanent title).

The title was only good for a certain length of time (I don't recall if it was as long as 30 days) but if you can work out the timing, it might save you both money, time and hassle.
posted by 1367 at 6:55 PM on April 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

Do you absolutely need the car for the month before you move? You might consider getting a one-way rental for your actual move instead; after factoring CA sales tax and such, you might still be in better shape.
posted by Aleyn at 11:25 PM on April 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

Keep in mind that plates can take a really long time to arrive in California. It took over a month for ours to arrive. Not even temp plates were issued- just a folded up proof of sale taped to the windshield. Driving across the country with no plates seems like a terrible idea.
posted by rockindata at 6:42 AM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

You should also consider rust. I'm not sure how old of a car you're planning to purchase, but California is known as the place to find a rust free classic car that might have turned to dust in the upper Midwest. The road salt used to melt ice in the winter in Minnesota will take any minor surface rust from an older California car and miraculously turn it into a rust bucket in a season or two.

Probably not a concern if you're buying a car newer than 2007 or so, but if you're looking at something used, just know that the little paint bubbles that you could ignore in California can mean trouble in the colder climates.
posted by Jeffy at 8:05 AM on April 27, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah. It took my bank three months to get the title from CA DMV.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:58 AM on April 27, 2014

Make sure the underside is coated for the northern climes, or you will be driving a rust bucket after the first two winters.
posted by squirbel at 4:16 PM on April 27, 2014

Response by poster: After a lot of research and discussion we've decided to do a one way car rental. We have family and friends in MN who can help us out in finding a car (and getting to a dealership), and since we plan to buy a used car we'd rather avoid putting 4,000 miles on it right off the bat.

Thanks all for your help!
posted by chriswarren at 7:36 PM on April 30, 2014

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