Buying a Car in Utah

Utah has a progressive set of regulations that can impact your vehicle purchase there. We’ve collected the most important information here regarding those regulations, with links to more details if you need them as well, to help you have the best vehicle purchase experience possible in the state.

1. Title Information

Utah requires all vehicles in the state to have a title. If you are purchasing a new or previously owned vehicle from a dealer, they should take care of the paperwork for you. In Utah, the owner gets the title even if there is a “lien” (a loan) on the vehicle.

If you are purchasing a previously owned vehicle from a private owner, you need the current title signed over to you, as well as proof of safety inspection and/or emissions testing and proof of insurance.

In Utah, there is no grace period for titling and registration of a purchased vehicle. You must submit the paperwork immediately. If you cannot do so, you can get a 15-day temporary permit — don’t waste time, though, as that permit can only be requested once.

2. Insurance Information

Utah requires mandatory insurance for all vehicles at all times. The minimum acceptable requirements are $25,000 liability per person bodily injury ($65,000 per accident) and $15,000 liability property damage (per accident).

Utah is also a no-fault state, meaning that you can file claims on your own policy, regardless of who is at fault in an accident. Utah requires a $30,000 personal injury protection policy as well to meet the minimum standards.

Insurance is also required in order to be able to register a vehicle each year. Moreover, the penalties for not having it can include vehicle impounding and jail time. So make sure you get insurance before you drive your newly purchased vehicle off the dealer’s lot or out of the previous owner’s driveway.

3. Emission Information

Utah requires safety inspections of all vehicles in the state. Its process for determining when the inspection is due is somewhat unusual. Vehicles that are less than eight years old require an inspection every two years (so if you are purchasing a new vehicle, you will need to get it inspected in two years). Vehicles eight years and older require an inspection every year.

Certain counties in the state also require emission testing. Davis, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber counties all require this testing for vehicles registered there. Vehicles less than six years old are tested every two years, while older vehicles are tested every year.

4. Lemon Law Information

Utah’s Lemon Law is one of the more complicated ones in the nation. It covers new and leased vehicles only and requires them to be under warranty. Additionally, the law requires any problems with a covered vehicle to have occurred within the first year that an individual owns the vehicle.

In order for the law to apply to a particular vehicle, the vehicle must either have a serious defect that has not been repaired after four attempts or have been in the shop for repairs for a cumulative 30 days during that first year.

If either condition exists, the vehicle owner must then go through arbitration with the manufacturer. Only after all of that can the owner file a complaint with the Division of Consumer Protection and attempt to force the manufacturer to replace or issue a refund for the vehicle. In Utah, if you think you have a vehicle that is a lemon, you must document things extremely well and move quickly.

5. Special Information

Utah has no additional special regulations that prospective car buyers should be aware of.