What's the car buying process in DC?
April 29, 2014 1:30 PM   Subscribe

About to buy a car in DC, but how?

I'm about to become a used car owner in DC! Hooray!
Unfortunately, it seems so complicated. I know there are the following steps involved:

-Purchase car
-Get temporary tags
-Purchase insurance
-Get the car inspected
-Register the car

But I don't know what order those occur in and I can't seem to find a clear answer online. I have been to the DC DMV website but it doesn't really break it down into the ordered steps and I'm worried about driving off the lot and then getting ticketed/fined because I don't get things done in the right order or because I am missing some documents.

Are there any steps I'm missing? How do I go about getting temporary tags if the dealership isn't in DC? Will I get ticketed on the way to the DMV if I don't have temporary tags yet?

What's the most efficient order to complete these items in to successfully become a car owner in DC?

Relevant information:
The dealership is in the Maryland suburbs of DC. I live in DC.
posted by donut_princess to Travel & Transportation (2 answers total)
Call the dealership, this isn't their first rodeo and they'll have the answers for you regarding temp tags. Dealers also deal with the registration of vehicles for you.

As for insurance, if you have renters insurance or homeowners, call your agent and ask about vehicle insurance. Start out with 100/300/100 liability, and then when you get the car, you call them up and tell them, "I bought a car, here's the VIN number, throw some collision on that bad-boy!"

Be sure to have the car mechanically inspected and find out what, if any warranty is included.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:33 PM on April 29, 2014

Yep. I had the same realization. But wait! There are no car dealerships in DC?! How do I get DC Tags?

The answer to the mystery? Dealers in MoCo, Fairfax, Falls Church, PG, etc are all licensed to print DC temp tags in their offices. DC will also get their chunk of taxes on the sale.

In DC, you do not need an inspection on a new vehicle. If you purchase used, you will need to get an inspection before you can register. Use the DMV webcams to see what the current wait is at the inspection station.

See if you can get your insurance to write a temp policy that will go into effect when you call waiting for your paperwork to be processed at the dealer. All I had to do was call in the VIN and my insurance doc was sent to my phone and I could drive away. (USAA is the best)

Registration can be done by the dealer. Thats what I chose to do. They will call you back in 2 weeks to get your plates and window sticker.

So, speaking of that window sticker. The registration sticker has your parking zone on it. Are you street parking in a zone restricted area? Do you have that sparkly ANC zone guest permit? Thats what I would do. There is some recourse for temp zone permits, but I had an off street lot parking space so it wasn't an issue for me. You can get a guest pass from the police depot in your ANC too, but you need some proof of address and ownership of the car.

Thats it!
posted by fontophilic at 1:48 PM on April 29, 2014

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