Buying a Car in Oregon

Oregon has a number of regulations relating to vehicle buying. We have collected here the highlights of these regulations, as well as links to additional helpful information, to help make your vehicle purchase in the state as easy as possible.

1. Title Information

Oregon requires all vehicles to be titled at all times. If you are purchasing a new vehicle from a dealer, they should deal with the paperwork for you (but you should always make certain that they actually do this). In Oregon, if you purchase the vehicle with cash, you will receive the title from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you have a “lien” (a loan) on the vehicle, then the lienholder will end up with the title. When the lien is paid off, the lienholder must return the title to the DMV, which will then create a new title and send it to you.

If you are purchasing a previously owned vehicle, you will need to obtain the current title, signed and notarized to you; a Bill of Sale; an odometer disclosure; and an emissions certificate, if appropriate. Mail all this documentation to the DMV or personally take it to one of their offices.

2. Insurance Information

Oregon has stronger vehicle insurance requirements than most states. All vehicles in the state are required to have insurance policies on them. The policy minimums are as follows:

  • $25,000 liability per person bodily injury ($50,000 per accident)
  • $20,000 liability property damage
  • $15,000 personal injury protection (to cover your own medical expenses and bills after an accident)
  • $25,000 uninsured motorist coverage per person ($50,000 per accident)

Vehicle insurance is required for registering a motor vehicle, and the penalties for not having it are harsh: Your vehicle can be impounded, your license can be revoked, and you can be hit with fines. Even worse, if you are in an accident your license will automatically be suspended for one year. So go ahead and get that insurance for your newly purchased vehicle — you’ll be glad you did.

3. Emission Information

Most areas in the state of Oregon do not require any emission testing. However, vehicles that are registered in the metropolitan areas of Portland and Medford are required to get an emissions test before they are registered every year. The rules are slightly different in each city, however.

In the Portland area, vehicles that are 1975 models and newer must be tested. In the Medford area, vehicles that are 20 years old and newer must receive emissions tests.

Qualifying vehicles must be tested at official testing stations, and even if you are purchasing a new vehicle, it will need to be tested when the first registration renewal comes up.

4. Lemon Law Information

Oregon’s Lemon Law covers new and leased vehicles bought in the state, and it does this for 24 months or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first. It does not cover used vehicles.

In order for the law to come into play for a particular vehicle, the vehicle either must have a defect that has not been repaired after three attempts or have been out of service for at least 30 cumulative days due to repairs. If a serious defect that could cause death or serious injury appears, only one failed attempt at repair is considered reasonable.

Once any of these conditions exists, the vehicle owner must inform the manufacturer in a certified letter that the lemon law process is going to start. The manufacturer may have an arbitration and dispute resolution process. If so, the owner must go through that process before bringing any lawsuit against the manufacturer.

5. Special Information

Oregon does not have any particularly unusual regulations that prospective car buyers need to know about.