Buying a Car in Indiana

Indiana takes its vehicle purchasing regulations very seriously. For instance, buying a vehicle without filling out the title completely is a Class A misdemeanor in the state. So make sure you follow the established car buying rules to make your purchase smooth and simple there.

1. Title Information

Indiana requires all vehicles in the state to have a title, regardless of age. If you are purchasing a new vehicle from a dealer, they must either give you the title when you purchase the vehicle or send you the title within 21 days. Some dealers have partnered with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) and can both title and register your vehicle right at the dealership. If the dealer has not partnered with the bureau, you will have to take the title to a license branch or a BMV partner location to title the vehicle.

If you are purchasing a previously owned vehicle, you need to make sure that the owner signs their name and your name to the title. The previous owner must also mark the odometer reading, the purchase date and the sale amount. Once that is done, you must take that title to a license branch or BMV partner location.

2. Insurance Information

Indiana has some of the most stringent mandatory vehicle insurance requirements in the nation. All vehicle owners in the state are required to have insurance. The minimum requirements are $25,000 liability for one person bodily damage ($50,000 for two or more people per accident) and $10,000 liability for property damage.

Indiana also requires vehicle owners to have a policy for uninsured drivers with a minimum liability of $25,000 for one person ($50,000 per accident), $10,000 for property damage and an underinsured driver policy with a liability of $50,000 per accident. In order to avoid this second set of insurance policies, a vehicle owner must sign an affidavit specifically requesting not to have this insurance.

Moreover, the laws for breaking the insurance policy requirements are extremely strict. The very first offense can result in a 90-day license suspension and being entered into an Uninsured Motorists Registry, which will cause an individual’s insurance premiums to increase dramatically. Avoid all this by getting the required insurance and having your insurance card in your vehicle at all times.

3. Emission Information

Indiana has an emissions testing program for two counties within the state: Lake and Porter. In those counties, qualifying vehicles are tested every two years for emission levels. These tests must be done before the vehicle can be registered, but fortunately, the registration can also be handled at the emission testing facilities.

If you are buying a new vehicle, it will be exempt from testing for four years. Vehicles that are pre-1975 and electronic/diesel vehicles are also exempt. If you are buying a previously owned vehicle, you can call the Clean Check hotline at 888-240-1684 and use the vehicle’s VIN in order to see if it is currently up to date with its emission testing.

4. Lemon Law Information

Indiana’s Lemon Law is similar to other comparable laws around the country, with an interesting wrinkle. The law covers new vehicles — either bought or leased — for 18 months or 18,000 miles, whichever comes first. In order for the law to apply, a vehicle must either have a problem that has not been repaired after four attempts or a problem that has kept it out of service for repairs for at least 30 business days.

If one of these conditions exists, the vehicle owner should check the owner’s manual. Some manufacturers require a written letter from an owner before they can begin a formal dispute and some require arbitration. If either is the case in their situation, the owner must fulfill the requirement before bringing a lawsuit. If neither exists, the owner can go directly to a lawsuit.

Finally, if the owner gets a replacement vehicle, that must be noted on the new title, and this information must remain with the title for the life of the vehicle.

5. Special Information

Beyond the aforementioned information, the state of Indiana has no additional special information you need to be aware of regarding vehicle purchasing.