Buying a Car in Arizona

If you’re planning on buying a new or used car in Arizona, you should be familiar with the specific rules that are in place there relating to the purchase of automobiles. You can learn about some of those rules here.

1. Title Information

Arizona requires titles on all cars, regardless of vehicle age. If you buy a car from a dealer, they handle the title for you. If, however, you have financed the car, they maintain the title until the loan is paid off.

If you buy a car from a private seller, make sure that both you and the seller have signed off on the existing title and that both signatures are notarized. You have only 15 days to take the title and a Title and Registration Application to your nearest Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) office. And yes, that means you register your car at the same time as you apply for a new title.

You are required to have the title in your car at all times. If you are still paying a loan, fill out the Title and Registration Application and keep that in your car instead.

2. Insurance Information

Arizona requires liability insurance on any car driven in the state. The minimum amount allowed is $15,000 for injuries on one person ($30,000 for two or more) and $10,000 for property damage. This insurance must be obtained before you take possession of the car.

If police stop a car in Arizona they are required to check for insurance, so make certain you have an insurance card in your vehicle at all times. Arizona law requires insurance companies to inform the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) when you cancel a policy; the agency will then send you a letter asking for the new policy information. Check out the Mandatory Insurance FAQ for more details.

3. Emission Information

Arizona law only requires emission tests for vehicles in specific areas of the state that are densely populated (such as Phoenix and Tucson). Most new cars under five years old will not require testing (but it still might happen, as 1 percent of such cars are checked every year). Older cars are required to pass a test roughly every two years, but only if you live their owners live in specific zip codes. Also, Arizona has very stringent laws on making sure your car is tested even if it is not in the state at the time the emission test is due.

To read more about Arizona emissions requirements, check out the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Faster Emissions Pamphlet, Emissions Facts and Emission Exemption Web pages.

4. Lemon Law Information

Arizona’s Lemon Law only works for new cars. The problem with a vehicle must start within 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever is earlier. If the problem persists beyond the original limits, it can still be covered.

Repairs must be done by authorized manufacturer repair shops. If the manufacturer fails to repair the car after four attempts or the car is in the shop for 30 or more days in one year, the owner can demand a return or replacement of the vehicle. For more details, check out the Arizona Attorney General’s Auto Purchases document.

5. Special Information

Arizona has three different levels of car inspections that are determined by specific requirements. Level I inspections are what you are most likely to run into, as a vehicle must get one before receiving a title. Other inspections only happen in specific circumstances.