Buying a Car in Idaho

Idaho adheres to a simple set of regulations for people who are purchasing a vehicle there. We’ve included the specifics here to help you have an equally simple vehicle-buying experience.

1. Title Information

Idaho has a simple procedure for dealing with titles for purchased vehicles. If you have purchased a new vehicle from a dealer without a “lien” (a loan), then the dealer will submit the title information for you and you will receive the title in the mail. If the new vehicle has a lien, then the dealer submits a form that sends the title to the dealer. Once the lien is paid in full, then the title will be sent to you.

If you are purchasing a vehicle from a previous owner, the owner must give you the title after signing it over to you. Then you will submit that title, a Bill of Sale for the vehicle, an odometer disclosure and the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to the County Assessor Motor Vehicle Office. You can submit in person or through the mail (in which case you must also submit a Idaho Power of Attorney form), but in either case you must do so within 30 days of purchasing the vehicle.

2. Insurance Information

Like most states, Idaho requires drivers to have a minimum vehicle insurance policy in order to own, register or drive a vehicle in the state. In Idaho, the minimum insurance amount is $25,000 for injury/death of one person in an accident ($50,000 for two or more) and $15,000 for property damage in a single accident. This insurance must be obtained before you begin driving the vehicle and must be obtained from an agent licensed to sell insurance in Idaho. You may gather a preliminary policy by speaking to the insurance agent before you purchase the car.

Failing to have this insurance can lead to a host of problems for you, including fines, vehicle impounding and loss of driver’s license. Therefore, you should take the insurance regulations seriously.

3. Emission Information

The state of Idaho only has required emission testing in one specific county, Canyon County, as well as the city of Kuna in Ada County. In these locations, vehicles must be tested every two years. Vehicles that are five years old or newer are exempt, as are vehicles that are pre-1981 or vehicles that are considered “classic cars” under Idaho vehicle code.

If you are purchasing a used vehicle, make certain that the owner has the most recent emission testing certificate so that you know when the next testing will be required, as Idaho marks testing by vehicle, not by owner. If you have any questions regarding emission testing, you can check out the website for the Idaho Vehicle Inspection Program.

4. Lemon Law Information

Idaho’s Lemon Law works with slight differences in its rules than many other laws of this type around the country. It covers vehicles that are bought or leased in Idaho and are used primarily for personal (not business) work. If a car owner is having a problem with their vehicle, in order to be able to file a complaint under the law, they must report the problem within two years or 24,000 miles, or by the time the manufacturer’s warranty expires, whichever comes first.

For the law to apply to a specific vehicle, one of the following situations must be in effect:

  • A particular problem with the vehicle has failed to be repaired in at least four attempts
  • An attempt to repair the problem has created a failure in the braking or steering systems
  • The vehicle has been out of service for repair for 30 business days
  • You reported the problem to the manufacturer and they have been unable to repair it within three years

If you believe the law applies to your vehicle, then you must send one final letter to the vehicle manufacturer and give them the opportunity to repair the defect. If that fails, you will enter arbitration to request a refund or replacement from the manufacturer. If a refund is offered, the manufacturer may deduct an amount for how long the vehicle was driven before the problem began.

5. Special Information

Idaho has no unusual or special information that can impact your vehicle purchase.