Buying a Car in West Virginia

West Virginia has several regulations that impact vehicle purchasing. Fortunately, we’ve gathered all the relevant information regarding these regulations here for you, to help you navigate your vehicle purchase in the state easily and smoothly.

1. Title Information

In West Virginia, all vehicles on the road must be titled. If you are purchasing a new vehicle from a dealer, they will take care of all the paperwork for you as required by law (but you should make certain they are doing so). In West Virginia, the title goes to the owner if they have bought the vehicle free and clear. If there is a “lien” (a loan) on the vehicle, the lienholder receives the title until the lien is paid off. When the lien is clear, the lienholder then must send the title to the owner, who can then submit it to the Department of Motor Vehicles for a clear title.

If you are purchasing a previously owned vehicle from a private owner, you will need the current title, an application for a new title, and an odometer disclosure statement (if the vehicle is under 10 years old.) You will take that information to a regional Department of Transportation office.

2. Insurance Information

West Virginia requires mandatory insurance on all vehicles and for all drivers within the state. The minimum requirement is $20,000 liability per person bodily damage ($40,000 per accident) and $10,000 liability property damage. Proof of insurance is required for each registration or renewal of registration.

Besides the fact that you need it for registration, there is another very good reason to have insurance: You can have you license revoked, your registration revoked, and even your vehicle impounded if you are found not to have insurance. So do yourself a favor and make sure you get insurance on that vehicle as soon as you’ve purchased it.

3. Emission Information

West Virginia currently has no emission testing required on any vehicles. However, the state does require safety inspections for all vehicles each year. If you are purchasing a new vehicle, it will be inspected before you take it from the dealer. If you are purchasing a previously owned vehicle, make certain that it has a sticker showing that it has been inspected recently. If it does not have a valid sticker, you either should make the owner bring it in for inspection before you buy it or you should recognize that you will have only three days from the purchase date to make certain that it gets inspected.

4. Lemon Law Information

West Virginia’s Lemon Law covers new vehicles sold within the state, and it does this for one year or the manufacturer’s express warranty period, whichever is shorter.

In order for the law to trigger, a vehicle must either have a serious defect that has not been repaired after three attempts or have a major, potentially deadly defect that remains after one attempt has been made to repair it.

If either of these conditions exists, the vehicle owner’s next step is to contact the manufacturer via certified mail and attempt to get it to repair the vehicle. If that fails, the owner can begin legal proceedings, either through arbitration (if the manufacturer has an arbitration process that is certified by the state) or through a lawsuit.

If the owner demands a refund, the manufacturer can deduct a portion of the price for mileage and use.

5. Special Information

West Virginia has no particularly unusual regulations that impact vehicle purchases.