Buying a Car in South Dakota

South Dakota has some very simple vehicle buying regulations in place. We’ve gathered the most important information regarding those regulations for you here to help make your vehicle purchase in the state as straightforward and stress-free as possible.

1. Title Information

South Dakota requires all vehicles to be titled and registered. If you are purchasing a new or previously owned vehicle from a dealer, they should take care of this for you (but always make sure they do so). If you do need to deal with the title yourself, make sure you follow the steps outlined by the State of South Dakota Department of Revenue’s Motor Vehicles Division.

If you are purchasing a previously owned vehicle from a private seller, you will need the current title, a damage disclosure form, an odometer disclosure if the vehicle is under 10 years old, a Bill of Sale and all the necessary fees. You will take all this to your local county treasurer.

In all cases, you have 30 days from the date of purchase to title and register your vehicle.

2. Insurance Information

South Dakota requires proof of financial responsibility for all drivers and owners of vehicles in the state. For most people, the proof will be in the form of liability insurance. The state minimums on liability insurance are $25,000 liability per person bodily damage ($50,000 per accident) and $25,000 liability property damage.

However, in South Dakota you can also choose to prove financial responsibility by getting a bond from a financial institution or submitting a cash deposit to the South Dakota State Treasurer. In both cases, you need to put up an amount of $50,000.

The choice on how you prove financial responsibility is up to you, but you need to have that proof before you are legally allowed to drive the vehicle you are purchasing. And the penalties for not having insurance are steep in South Dakota: 30 days in jail, a suspended license, and three years of having to prove to the state that you are constantly insured or risk having your license revoked. To avoid all this, make sure you get your insurance immediately.

3. Emission Information

South Dakota requires no emission testing or safety inspections on any of its vehicles.

4. Lemon Law Information

South Dakota’s Lemon Law covers new and leased vehicles bought within the state for one year or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. If a problem on a covered vehicle is reported to the manufacturer before the end of that coverage, the owner remains protected under the law until the vehicle reaches the age of two years or 24,000 miles.

In order for the law to apply to a particular vehicle, the vehicle must either have a problem that has not been repaired after four attempts or have been out of service due to repairs on the vehicle for 30 cumulative days within the coverage period. If either of these conditions exists, the vehicle owner must then send a certified letter to the manufacturer, which has seven days to attempt one final repair.

Should that repair attempt be unsuccessful, the owner has the opportunity to demand a replacement of or refund for the vehicle. Arbitration may be required between the owner and the manufacturer. If the owner chooses a refund, the manufacturer may deduct an amount based on mileage and use.

5. Special Information

South Dakota has no additional special vehicle buying regulations that prospective car purchasers need to be aware of.