Buying a Car in Montana

Montana’s vehicle buying regulations are about as straightforward as they come. We’ve collected the most important information on them here, as well as links if you need further details on any aspects of the regulations.

1. Title Information

Montana requires all vehicles to be titled and registered in the state. If you are purchasing a new vehicle from a dealer, they will take care of the paperwork for you (but make certain they do so). In Montana, you receive the title regardless of whether there is a “lien” (a loan) on the vehicle.

If you are purchasing a previously owned vehicle from a dealer or a private owner, you will need to get the title (notarized for both parties), a bill of sale and a completed Application for Title to your nearest County Treasurer’s Office.

It is worth noting that in Montana, the government has put in place a system that keeps tracks of all titling and registration transactions by specific Customer Identification Numbers. The Montana Enhanced Registration & Licensing Information Network system claims to be able to help Montana citizens with faster title replacements.

In all cases, owners have 60 days to title and register their vehicle.

2. Insurance Information

Montana requires mandatory vehicle insurance on all vehicles registered in the state. The minimum amounts are $25,000 liability for one person bodily damage ($50,000 per accident) and $10,000 liability property damage. Vehicle owners also have the option of posting a bond to cover the amount or submitting a cash deposit equal to the amount, but doing so does not stop the owner from being sued or having their wages garnished to pay for any claims.

The fines for failing to be insured are steep in Montana. A first offense can equal $250 in fines and 10 days in jail, and the punishments only get harsher from there. So do yourself a favor and get the insurance if you plan on driving a newly purchased vehicle in Montana, because even though you don’t have to show proof of insurance when you register your vehicle, no one wants that big a mess.

3. Emission Information

Montana currently has no emission or inspection testing required for vehicles in the state.

4. Lemon Law Information

Montana’s Lemon Law works very simply. It covers vehicles purchased or leased in Montana, as well as vehicles purchased elsewhere and titled in Montana, for two years or 18,000 miles, whichever comes first. If a defect on a vehicle has already been reported to the manufacturer in writing, the coverage under the law can extend for another year.

In order for the Lemon Law to come into play for a particular vehicle, the vehicle must have a problem that has not been repaired after three attempts. At that point, the owner should contact the manufacturer via certified mail and inform it that it needs to repair the vehicle on the fourth attempt. If it does not, the owner can demand a refund or a replacement. If the manufacturer does not refund or replace the vehicle, the owner must first use a state-sponsored arbitration board before suing the manufacturer.

5. Special Information

Montana has no special additional vehicle purchasing regulations that you need to be aware of.