Getting a new or used car
Resources & Links
- Regional Information and Attractions
- Academic Year Timeline for International Students
- RPI Student Legal Services
- Health-Related Information
- Clubs and Organizations
- Rensselaer Directories
- Winter in Troy
- Embassies and Consulates
Because the availability and accessibility of public transportation varies from location to location in the U.S., it is likely that you will eventually need a car.
However, it is very important to remember the following:
- Your car must have insurance. If you can't afford the insurance, then you can't afford to own a car.
- Be educated. There are many things you should know about a car before you purchase a good one. You can find good advice from Edmunds.com
- Look for cars for sale in the classified section of the local newspapers, or on the bulletin boards located around campus. You may decide to purchase a used car from a private party directly, or a new or used car from a car dealer. Necessary steps for both of these methods are listed here.
Buying a used car from a private party
- Determine your price range and then look for advertisements for cars for sale on campus bulletin boards or in any local newspaper.
- Call the owner to make an appointment and take the car for a test drive. Carefully check the interior, exterior and mileage on the car.
- If you like the vehicle, don't make an offer yet. Return again with a mechanic so that they can check over the vehicle thoroughly and determine whether or not it needs any repairs. You can ask a friend's mechanic or any area mechanic for this service for a fee.
- Based on the mechanic's assessment, make your offer on the vehicle. The owner may or may not agree on a lower price. When you reach on an agreement, you pay the amount and obtain the "Title of Ownership" from the seller. It is recommended to check the title of ownership carefully before you make the payment and also have the previous owner sign it over to you. Don't forget to obtain a receipt of your payment.
- Get the car insured in your name (see Insuring your vehicle) and bring the insurance documents to the Department of Motor Vehicle (The nearest office is located at 1600 7th Avenue in Troy; their telephone number is 270-2600.) The car will be registered in your name and new license plates will be issued (see Registering your vehicle). You will receive a registration sticker listing the month and year of expiration; you need to affix this sticker in the lower left-hand corner of your car's front windshield.
- Remove the old license plates from the car and return them to the previous owner. Put on the new plates, and your car is now road-ready.
- Don't forget that you must have the car inspected by an autorized inspection agent within ten days of the registration, and get a sticker with the inspection expiration date on it. This sticker goes next to the registration sticker on the front windshield. Please see the section on Getting your vehicle inspected for more information.
Purchasing a new or used car from a dealership
- We recommend that you go to a car dealership only when you have done your homework regarding the kind of car you want and its current market value. You can find this sort of information by looking in Consumer Report magazine (available from the library), or by calling up several dealers to get the general idea. You can also visit Kelly's Blue Book to find out the current market value of a vehicle.
- Once you have chosen a vehicle you like, make an offer on it. (You may want to bring along your mechanic for second opinion.) However, beware of any hidden costs involved before you agree on a price!
- Car dealerships sometimes offer financing on their vehicles, which means that you pay a certain amount up front and then pay the rest of it in installments. However, remember that if you decide to finance your new vehicle, the dealer will charge interest on these payments, thereby making the actual price of the car higher than the listed sale price. However, it is not absolutely necessary that you get financing from the car dealer. For example, if your bank offers a better interest rate, it would be better to get a car loan from them. The bottom line is that you need to look for the best interest rates.
- Once you make the deal on the vehcile, make the payment, get the dealer's certificate and the receipt of payment, and have the vehicle insured. Please refer to the section on Insuring your vehicle for more information.
- Cars bought from an auto dealer already have inspection
stickers and don't need to be inspected again before the
expiration date. The auto dealer will issue you a temporary
registration sticker and he/she is responsible for contacting
the DMV to process your registration, so you can receive your
permanent registration sticker and plates in a timely
Please refer to the section on Registering your vehicle for more information.
Additional resources and links
Edmunds.com is a great source for car buyers. It includes ratings, prices and other information for buying a used or new car. It also has a Tips & Advice section which lists steps to successfully getting a good deal for the vehicle.
If you want to get an idea of what the average price is for a used or new car, Kelly's Blue Book is a good resource to visit. However, please remember that the prices listed on that website are only average prices and are not dependent on the condition of the vehicle you are planning to purchase. Always make sure that you thoroughly inspect the car before you make any offers.