Buying a Car in Florida

In Florida, the specific regulations for buying cars are pretty similar to those in other parts of the country with two interesting exceptions: the state has an electronic title option for vehicle owners and a dedicated program dealing with older drivers.

1. Title Information

In Florida, owners have 30 days from the time they buy a vehicle to inform the state about the purchase. If you have bought a car from a dealer, that dealer will be responsible for informing the state, which will issue you a title with the notation that there is a “lien” (or outstanding loan) on the vehicle. When that lien is paid off, the dealer must submit a “Satisfaction of Lien” form to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FDHSMV) within 10 days.

If you have bought a car from a previous owner, the owner is required to sign the title and input the odometer reading (the mileage) on the title before having you sign the title as well. A transfer form must still be sent to the FDHSMV within 30 days.

Florida residents are also able to be part of an Electronic Lien and Titling System that offers vehicle owners the option of simply having the title filed with the state electronically. The goal of this program is to make it harder for thieves to steal titles, and at the same time, make it easier for owners, as they would never have to get a duplicate title. New car buyers can choose this option immediately, while used car buyers can have their title converted into electric form. Do note that if you ever sell your car later on, you will have to get a paper title printed before you can do so, as the system does not allow electronic title transfers. The Florida Car Purchase Brochure offers more details.

2. Insurance Information

Florida requires vehicle buyers to acquire insurance from a Florida-licensed insurance agent before they can drive the purchased vehicle. The minimum required amounts of insurance are $10,000 in personal injury protection and $10,000 in property damage liability. Florida’s insurance laws are very strict, so make certain that you check out the finer details on Florida Vehicle Insurance before you buy.

3. Emission Information

Florida had an emissions law for vehicles until 2000, at which point it was repealed. There are no current emission requirements for vehicles, although if you buy a car that is recognized as an Inherently Low Emission Vehicle (ILEV), you can submit a special form to the state and get permission to drive in High Occupancy Vehicles (HOV) lanes at all times.

4. Lemon Law Information

Florida has a Lemon Law that kicks in only for new vehicles. If a car has a problem that persists within the first 24 months the vehicle is owned, the law will apply as long as the first attempt to fix the problem was within that timeframe. In this situation, a car owner must submit a notice to the manufacturer, who then has 10 days to respond and inspect the vehicle. Also, if the vehicle has been in the shop for the same problem at least three times, the owner may invoke the law.

Additionally, if the vehicle has not been drivable as a result of being in a repair shop for 15 consecutive days or 30 cumulative days, the owner can trigger the law. Per the Lemon Law, manufacturers are required to either replace the car or refund its price.

5. Special Information

Florida has a special website built by the FDHSMV that is designed to serve the special needs of the high number of retirees residing in the state. This site, which is called Car-Fit.org, includes content dealing with car buying, insurance and various driving-related issues for aging drivers and is aimed at helping them remain as mobile and safe as possible.