Buying a Car in Delaware

Delaware is noteworthy when it comes to the car buying process, as the state is small enough that inspections and title transfers are generally done at local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices. Learn here all about the specifics you need to know when buying a vehicle in this state.

1. Title Information

Delaware’s title regulations are straightforward and simple. If you have bought a new vehicle from a dealer, or have purchased one that is five years old or newer and is being titled in Delaware for the first time, the vehicle does not require inspection. You must submit a title form to the DMV within 30 days of purchasing the vehicle; if you have purchased from a dealer, they will take care of this for you.

If you have purchased a used vehicle, you must submit a transfer of title form to the DMV. Delaware suggests that, in this type of situation, both you and the previous owner visit a DMV office to guarantee that the transfer happens efficiently. Once again, there is a 30-day limit to do this before you get fined.

2. Insurance Information

Delaware requires insurance on all vehicles that are registered in the state, regardless of whether they are being driven. The minimum requirement is $15,000 liability for individual bodily damage ($30,000 per accident) and $10,000 liability for property damage. Delaware insurance companies issue Insurance Identification Cards that must be carried on your person or in your car at all times. Fulfilling this requirement is necessary before you can take possession of a newly purchased vehicle.

Fines in Delaware are steep for failing to possess insurance, with the first fine costing $1,500. So make certain you follow the state’s regulations and get your insurance settled before you buy a vehicle.

3. Emission Information

Delaware requires emission tests on almost all vehicles. If you are buying a new vehicle, it will not require emission testing for the first five years. Vehicles manufactured before 1968 are also exempt from the testing.

All other vehicles are tested roughly every two years (although depending on the pollution levels within the state, regulations allow the DMV to change this rule). The testing must be done by law at one of the four DMV locations throughout the state.

4. Lemon Law Information

Delaware has a vehicle Lemon Law that is pretty standard in its requirements. The law only covers new and leased vehicles, and for it to help you with a problem affecting your car, the problem must appear within the first year of your owning the vehicle, starting with the day the vehicle was delivered to you.

If the vehicle has a problem where repairs have been tried at least four times or the vehicle has been out of service for repairs for a total of 30 days, the law applies. If the vehicle falls under the law, manufacturers are required to offer a refund or replacement. In Delaware, owners are allowed to refuse a replacement and demand a refund. If the manufacturer replaces the vehicle, Delaware also requires that it cover incidental costs for doing so, such as paying for a new title and any dealership fees.

5. Special Information

Delaware requires odometer readings every time a vehicle’s title is changed as well as every year before registration of the vehicle. The only exception to this rule is for vehicles that are over 10 years old.