Buying a Car in New York

The state of New York has serious regulations when it comes to purchasing a vehicle. You’ll find the most important information on these regulations here, with links to additional details as well, so you can make your vehicle purchase in New York go as smoothly as possible.

1. Title Information

New York requires titles on vehicles that are 1973 models and newer. If you are purchasing a vehicle from a dealer, they will take care of most of the paperwork for you (but make certain that they are actually doing so). In New York, you receive the title even if you have a “lien” (a loan) on the vehicle. The lienholder will submit a form to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and they will add a lien to the title. When you have paid off the lien, you will submit a form to have the state make you a new title that does not have that lien on it.

If you are purchasing a previously owned vehicle from a dealer, you will need both the current title and a bill of sale in order to get the new title. If you are purchasing from an individual owner, all you need is the current title with the sale price on the back. In both cases, you then submit that information with proof of insurance to your local DMV office and the DMV will begin the paperwork.

In all cases, you need to register and title your vehicle within 30 days of purchase. In New York, titles must be mailed to you.

2. Insurance Information

New York requires mandatory liability insurance on all vehicles within the state. The minimum required insurance is $25,000 liability per person bodily damage ($50,000 per accident), $50,000 liability per person death ($100,000 per accident) and $10,000 liability property damage. New York is a no-fault state, which means that you can file accident claims on your own insurance, regardless of who was at fault in the accident.

Getting and keeping insurance in New York is a major issue. If your policy lapses or is canceled for any reason, the state is automatically informed and you have 10 days to get another policy. If you fail to do so, your registration is immediately revoked and you must surrender your plates and registration. If you fail to surrender your plates and registration, your license can and will be suspended indefinitely; you may also be facing jail time. So if you find yourself in a situation where you suddenly are without insurance, get some insurance immediately.

3. Emission Information

New York requires both safety inspections and emissions tests on most vehicles. Safety inspections are required every year for all vehicles and are extensive in checking that the vehicles are safe to drive.

Emissions tests are also done every year. If you have bought a new vehicle, it will be exempt for two years. If you have bought a vehicle that is over 25 years old, is entirely electric or is registered with historical plates, it is also exempt. Otherwise, the emissions test happens at the same time as the safety inspection.

4. Lemon Law Information

New York’s Lemon Law covers new, leased and transferred vehicles that are registered in the state, and it covers them for two years or 18,000 miles, whichever comes first.

In order for the law to apply to a particular vehicle, the vehicle must have either a defect that has not been repaired after four attempts or a defect that has put the vehicle in the shop for repairs for a cumulative 30 days. Once one of these conditions exists, the vehicle owner must send a certified letter to the manufacturer to begin the lemon law process. A final attempt to fix the problem and arbitration are likely before the owner can request a refund or replacement.

5. Special Information

New York also has a Used Car Lemon Law that affects vehicles which have less than 100,000 miles on them and had a purchase price or lease value of at least $1,500. A warranty is determined based on the current mileage and age of the vehicle.

If during that warranty period, the vehicle has a problem that cannot be fixed after three attempts or is in the shop for repairs for a cumulative 15 days, the owner can begin the process to get a replacement or refund of the vehicle.