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How to Buy a Car in Texas

How to Buy a Car in Texas

Buying a car in Texas isn’t very different from buying a car in any other state, but there are some subtle differences you should know about. This comprehensive guide outlines everything you need to know to find, purchase, and register a car in the Lone Star State.

Key Takeaways

  • To purchase a car in Texas, you need a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance, a passing vehicle inspection, signed title paperwork, and applicable sales tax and registration fees.
  • When buying from a private seller, get a signed title, signed 130-U form, verify insurance, and transfer the title within 30 days. Meet in public and use secure payment.
  • Register the car within 30 days of purchase. You’ll need proof of insurance, passing inspection, title paperwork, ID, and registration fees.
  • Texas charges 6.25% sales tax on the purchase price or standard presumptive value, whichever is higher.
  • The base registration fee is $50.75 plus a $1 TexasSure fee, but counties can charge additional fees. Total costs range from $71-$103.25.
  • Take steps like creating a bill of sale and meeting in public when buying from a private seller for protection.
  • Allow extra time to get inspections, emissions testing if required, title transfers, and paperwork completed when buying a car in Texas.

Texas State Requirements To Buy A Car

Texas has several steps and requirements that are unique to the state when finalizing a car purchase:

  • Driver’s License – Yes, you need a valid driver’s license to buy a car in Texas.
  • Proof of Insurance – Proof of minimum liability coverage ($30,000 per injured person up to $60,000 per accident, $25,000 property damage) is required when buying from a dealer.
  • Vehicle Inspection – Cars must pass a state inspection at a certified station before being registered.
  • Sales Tax – Texas charges a 6.25% motor vehicle sales tax on the purchase price or standard presumptive value, whichever is higher.
  • Title and Registration – The title must be transferred to the buyer within 30 days. Required documents:
    • Signed title
    • Application for Texas Title and Registration (Form 130-U)
    • Supporting docs like release of lien or power of attorney
  • Financing Documents – If financing through a dealer, bring your last 2 pay stubs and proof of residence.
  • Private Party Purchases – Sales tax of 6.25% is still required. Provide proof of ownership, ID, and insurance.
  • Fees – The base registration fee is $50.75 plus $1 for TexasSure. Counties may charge additional fees.

How to Buy a Car From a Private Seller in Texas

Buying from a private seller in Texas has some differences from other purchase methods:

  1. Find a Seller and Agree on Price – Browse classifieds and networking sites to find private sellers. Negotiate a purchase price.
  2. Get Signed Title – The seller must sign over the title with the sale date and odometer reading.
  3. Obtain Signed 130-U Form – The seller must sign the Application for Texas Title and Registration form.
  4. Verify Insurance Coverage – Privately sold vehicles must have active liability insurance in Texas.
  5. Secure Payment Method – Pay with cash, cashier’s check, or a service like PayPal. Meet in a public place.
  6. Transfer Title Within 30 Days – Visit your county tax office with these documents:
    • Photo ID
    • Insurance proof
    • Signed title
    • Completed 130-U form
    • Release of lien (if applicable)
    • Required fees like $2.50 transfer fee
  7. The State of Texas does not require a Bill of Sale, but I personally still recommend both the buyer and seller create one, sign it, and make copies.

Following these steps ensures a smooth private party car purchase in Texas. Let me know if you would like me to expand on any part of the process further.

How to Register a Car in Texas

Follow these steps to register a used car in Texas:

  1. Obtain Insurance – You need minimum liability coverage of $30,000 per injured person up to $60,000 per accident and $25,000 for property damage.
  2. Get a Vehicle Inspection – Take the car to a certified inspection station and get a passing inspection. Bring your insurance card as they will verify coverage.
  3. Visit the County Tax Office – Bring these documents:
    • Completed Title Application Form (130-U)
    • Proof of identity
    • Vehicle ownership docs (title or registration)
    • Insurance proof
    • Inspection certificates
    • Emissions testing certificate (if required)
    • Registration fees (vary by vehicle and county)

The base registration fee is $50.75 plus a $1 TexasSure fee. Counties add on other fees. Total registration costs range from $71-$103.25 depending on the county and required inspections.

  1. Receive Plates/Registration – You’ll get your license plates and registration sticker after completing these steps. Register the vehicle within 30 days of moving to Texas or buying the car to avoid penalties.

Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional details to include on the car registration process in Texas. I can also expand this into a longer section if needed.



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Picture of Steve Momot - Author

Steve Momot - Author

Steve, a seasoned expert in the automotive industry, formerly held a car dealer license in Florida. With extensive experience spanning across car trading and mechanical work, he founded Autohitch. His mission? To guide both buyers and sellers through the intricate maze of car purchasing, ensuring a seamless and informed experience. Outside of the automotive world, Steve has a passion for fishing and capturing the beauty of nature through photography.


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