Buying a Car in Texas

Texas has a wide range of regulations connected to vehicle purchasing. We’ve included the most crucial information you need regarding to those regulations here, with links to additional information if you require it.

1. Title Information

In Texas, all vehicles are required to have titles. If you are purchasing a new or previously owned vehicle from a dealer, they should take care of the paperwork for you (but always check to make certain they do so). They should send you a receipt stating that they have submitted the paperwork within 30 days.

If you are buying a previously owned vehicle from a private owner, you will need to make certain you get the current title, receipt of sale, proof of financial responsibility and proof of residency. You will take all that information to the local county tax office. Texas suggests bringing the seller with you to make certain there are no surprises.

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

2. Insurance Information

Texas requires all drivers to have proof of financial responsibility before purchasing or driving a vehicle in the state. For most drivers, the proof will be liability insurance. In Texas, the minimum insurance requirements are $30,000 liability per person bodily damage ($60,000 per accident) and $25,000 liability property damage.

You can, however, also choose to prove financial responsibility by getting a surety bond (for $55,000) from the county clerk by attaching two people who have real estate equal to that amount. Or you can make a security deposit of $55,000 to the county comptroller or county judge.

The choice of how you prove financial responsibility is up to you, but make certain you choose something. Not having proof of financial responsibility can lead to your vehicle registration failing, your license being suspended, and even jail time. So make certain you’ve taken care of this before you drove off in your newly purchased vehicle.

3. Emission Information

All vehicles in Texas, regardless of age, are required to have an annual safety inspection. If you purchase a new vehicle, you are only exempt from the safety inspection for the first two years you own the vehicle.

Some counties in Texas also have emission testing as part of the safety inspection. The Texas Department of Public Safety has an online map that you can look at to see if your vehicle will need to undergo emission testing. Vehicles that are over 25 years old are not required to have emissions standards checked; they are, however, still required to have the safety inspection.

4. Lemon Law Information

Texas’ Lemon Law has such specific filing requirements issues that the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles suggests that vehicle owners call the department before beginning the lemon law process. Essentially, however, the law covers new and leased vehicles bought in Texas for two years or 24,000 miles, whichever comes first.

In order for the law to apply to a particular vehicle, the vehicle must have a serious defect that has not been fixed after four repair attempts. The owner must document all repairs very carefully in Texas, as the presumption is that the vehicle is not a lemon.

If you are concerned about your vehicle after you purchase it in Texas, you should absolutely contact the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles for help.

5. Special Information

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