Buying a Car in Connecticut

With the United States’ first Lemon Law, Connecticut has a progressive history when it comes to enacting necessary regulations for buying cars. You can learn about all the details here to make certain your car buying in the state is as easy as possible.

1. Title Information

Connecticut’s title regulations are fairly straightforward. If you have bought a new vehicle from a dealer, they will take care of the title processing and you will get the title in the mail. If you have a “lien” (a loan) on the car, once you finish paying it off, the dealer will send you a “lien release”; no new title is required.

If you have bought a car from a previous owner, both you and that individual will need to sign the current title. You will then need to take that title and proof of insurance and submit a title transfer form.

Vehicles manufactured before 1981 do not require titles in Connecticut.

2. Insurance Information

Like most states, Connecticut requires insurance on any vehicle that is going to be registered, even if that vehicle will not be driven for a period of time. The minimum required insurance is $20,000 per person bodily injury liability ($40,000 per accident) and $10,000 personal property liability.

This insurance must be obtained before you can legally drive the vehicle. Any lapse in or cancellation of policy is immediately reported to the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles, so do not risk penalties by buying the vehicle without first obtaining insurance for it (in the form of a policy or letter of intent from the insurance company). Even just getting a notation of a lapsed or cancelled policy will require you to fill out a form and pay a $200 fine (and from there it gets far worse), so be very careful.

3. Emission Information

Connecticut emission laws cover the entire state and require a vehicle to be tested every other year before being registered. Connecticut maintains a database of emission tests, and officers who stop a vehicle are required to check with that database to be certain the car has passed the test.

If you are buying a new vehicle, you will not have to have it tested for the first four years. Vehicles 25 years old and older are also exempt, as are electric vehicles (but not hybrids). If you are buying a used vehicle, the law does not require it to be compliant at the time of sale, which means you need to check the Vehicle Identification Number and determine whether you will have to do it within the 30 days allowed after a purchase.

4. Lemon Law Information

Connecticut was the first state to pass a Lemon Law in 1982. Its version remains one of the most comprehensive such laws in that it covers both new and leased vehicles, as well as offers some benefits in situations that states’ comparable laws fail to cover.

In order to trigger the law, a car owner must be dealing with one of the following situations:

  • Their car has an issue where repairs have been attempted at least four times (unless the owner can prove that a lower number of repair attempts was “reasonable.”)
  • The car has been in for repairs for a cumulative total of 30 days, regardless of what the issues were. Most states require the repairs to all be for the same issue; Connecticut does not have that stipulation.
  • The car has a serious defect that could cause injury or death and two attempts to repair it have failed.

If any of the above situations arise before the vehicle is two years old or has been driven 24,000 miles (whichever comes first), the owner may submit a form to the state and request arbitration. The request may come after the time/mileage limit has been reached. In Connecticut, much like in other states, if the owner wins the arbitration, the car manufacturer must offer either a replacement or refund (they may, however, deduct a mileage amount from the refund).

5. Special Information

Connecticut is very strict with its car buying regulations. Consumers are advised to make absolutely certain they follow all laws when purchasing a vehicle.