"running it through a dealer", cross-state purchase tips?

Andrew Duane aduane at juniper.net
Thu May 14 13:06:21 PDT 2009

My only experience buying out of state is with a new car, so that's
slightly different. Also, NH issues temp plates with nothing but a
P&S agreement, so I flew out with my "plates" and drove the car home.

The tax break I suspect is that many states only charge sales tax on
the difference between a new car purchase and the trade-in, so if
he "trades in" that car for $3k, he saves $150 at 5%. I think you'd
be right to worry about the dealer doing something shady. They don't
call them pond scum for nothing!

IIRC, Mass makes it pretty much impossible to legally buy a used car
out of state because of the plate/registration system they have.

Brett Dikeman wrote:
> I'm in negotiations for buying a used car out-of-state.  The seller
> keeps mumbling something about wanting to "run it through as a trade",
> which seems to encompass him trading in the car to the dealer, then
> the dealer selling it to me immediately.  The seller gets some sort of
> tax credit out of this in his state (MN).  I'm not crazy about it from
> the get-go, as it'll probably look weird on a carfax/autocheck report
> down the line, and make things more complicated than they already are
> (I'm in MA, where they do not recognize temp plates, will not issue
> temp plates, and require the title to issue a registration.)
> Is this normal?  Sketchy?  How can it go wrong?  Is this something
> where a contract is written up between the three parties?  The most
> obvious scenario to me is that the dealer turns around to me and says
> "gee, that's a nice car, we think we're not going to give it to you
> unless you give us another 2k", or someone on the staff buys the car
> from them, or they think they can sell it for more to someone else,
> etc.
> Any other tips on cross-state buying? What should I watch for?  I
> haven't found much except general comments along the lines of "do a
> sale agreement, fedex check, get title fedex'd".  Some leinholders
> apparently have forms available to have the title sent elsewhere when
> the loan is paid off, etc.
> Brett
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