OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Buying and Owning a Car

While cars are convenient, there are many reasons not to own one. They are expensive to buy and operate, parking can be difficult and frustrating, insurance is required and is very expensive. Public transportation is available around the Corvallis area (and buses are free for OSU students). It is possible to rent a car for weekends or vacations to explore Oregon.

Automobile Insurance

Drivers of automobiles, motorcycles, and other motor vehicles have a financial responsibility in case of an accident that involves injury or death, or damage to property or another vehicle. DO NOT DRIVE WITHOUT INSURANCE! There can be very serious legal and financial consequences if you do not have insurance.  Laws in the state of Oregon require all drivers to attain liability insurance for their motor vehicles.

Before you buy a car

You can save some money if you do some research before you buy. The Consumer Reports annual survey of new or used cars (available at the library or bookstore), covers car reliability, frequency of repairs, etc. It will help you become educated about which car you wish to buy, and the way to get the best price. For a small subscription price, their website www.consumerreports.org has information on insurance, buying a car and other consumer advice. Additionally there is an excellent website at www.consumerworld.org that has information on buying a car. When you go to look at a car, take along a friend who is knowledgeable about purchasing and evaluating a car.

Buying a new car

You can choose from many different makes (such as brands of new cars, sizes and models). After you choose a model, you must decide about "options" or special features engine size, automatic or manual ("stick shift") transmission, and so on. Check the internet for “car prices”—sites such as www.edmunds.com/ have information on what the dealer costs are. Then when you go to spend time looking at different cars and models you will know what the basic prices and added "option" costs should be. Each car dealer offers different prices or “mark ups” from the base price). If buying from a dealer, always ask for their best price. Nobody pays the "sticker" price--always bargain!

Buying a used car

You will probably get the best deal on a used car from a private person rather than from a dealer. It is okay to bargain on the price. First check the The Kelly Blue Book price (www.kbb.com/ ) which gives average prices for used cars for different years and models. Then check bulletin boards, the classifieds of local newspapers, including the Express and Classified Flea Market (www.cfm.com/about.asp) for cars for sale. The Buggy Bank (www.buggybank.com) at 2821 Shattuck Ave. is a good place to look at a variety of cars for sale by owners. Any reputable person selling a used car will allow you to take the car to a mechanic for a thorough inspection (called a "diagnostic check"). Mechanics usually charge $50 60 for this service. Check in the Yellow Pages of the telephone directory for the phone numbers of local mechanics, or contact the Oregon State Automobile Association (http://www.aaaorid.com/). Ask those who live in the area if they can recommend a mechanic or repair shop. Call first to inquire about prices and to make an appointment.

Paying for a car

Cash--You can often get the best price for a car by offering to pay the full amount in "cash"--in this case meaning a cashiers check from a bank, or travelers checks. DO NOT CARRY DOLLARS! --Be suspicious of anyone asking you to bring dollars! IT CAN BE DANGEROUS TO CARRY LARGE AMOUNTS OF MONEY WITH YOU. Also, if you pay cash and anything goes wrong with the car, you will not have any way to cancel your check or track your payment.

Financing a new or used car--Whether buying a new or used car through a dealer, compare the cost of different methods of financing. Loans may add 20 30% to the total price of the car. If you should decide to buy on credit, it is best to do so through a credit union, bank or savings and loan association. And remember, before signing any docu¬ments, make certain that you understand all the details of the sale and payments required. Keep copies of all documents.

Documents needed to register a car

When you complete the purchase of a used car, you must be given a certificate of ownership, called the ”Certificate of Title” or "pink slip" by the dealer or previous owner; it must be signed by them, and your name indicated on it as the new owner. You will need this slip to register your car or to sell it later.

Automobile registration

If purchasing a new car, the dealer may take care of the registration and you will be mailed the license plates. For a used car, it must be registered with the DMV. Check the website at http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/vehicle/trnew.shtml for current information. Take the car and the pink slip to the DMV. New car and some used car dealers take care of registering the cars they sell. Upon payment of the registration fees, which vary according to the model and age of the car, a temporary registration slip will be issued and ownership recorded. An official registration slip will be mailed to you. Used cars keep their license plates, so you do not need to remove them.

Repairing cars

AAA of Oregon has a list of auto repair shops in the state to protect you from dishonest repair people. http://www.aaaorid.com/auto/approved_repair.asp

When you meet with the repair person, please check that:
• You are provided with a written estimate of how much the repair work will cost (cost of labor + cost of parts) before the repair work is begun. No charge can be made unless you approve it and give authorization to do the work;
• A written invoice (bill), must be given to you, with all work and parts itemized;
• You must be given the worn out parts if you ask for them before the work is begun;
• If used or rebuilt parts are used, this must be noted on the bill; and
• No repairs may be done by a shop other than the one you are dealing with, unless you are notified and approve.

Hopefully, you will not have any difficulties. However, if you experience problems, please learn how to file a complaint at http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/DMV/dealers/complaints.shtml