How Can I Pay for a Car Out of State From a Private Seller?

Purchasing a car from an out-of-state private seller can get you the perfect car at a great price. There are some obstacles, however—such as how to pay for that out of state car. Don’t worry; we have solutions. Read on!
Most payment methods are super cumbersome. For example, if you want to pay with a cashier's check, you will need to meet at a bank branch near where the seller lives. Your bank can verify your funds, and you can then give the check to your seller in exchange for the keys and vehicle's title. Sound inconvenient? That’s because it is.

PrivateAuto Pay makes remote vehicle transactions easy. With the power of our self-serve technology, you can tap into nationwide inventory without incurring inconvenience and risk. There’s no other payment method like it.

Can I Purchase a Car Out of State?

You can purchase a car out of state, but you’ll need to address the following three challenges:

1. How to verify that the car is as advertised
2. How to get payment to the seller
3. How to get the car from its current location to your residence

Fortunately, we have solutions to all three challenges, making remote car purchases easy for anyone.
Image highlighting Buying/Selling Car Privately by PrivateAuto

How to Verify that the Car is As Advertised?

When buying a car long-distance, schedule an inspection and authorize the inspector to act as your agent to verify the car is as advertised. (The agent can also sign the bill of sale on your behalf and let you know when it's safe to release payment.)

How to Pay For the Car?

PrivateAuto Pay. End of story. We’ll get more into how amazing it is in just a minute.

How to Get the Car to You?

Schedule car shipping right from the PrivateAuto app. Sit back and wait for your car to arrive.

Remote Payments, Simplified

PrivateAuto’s smooth dealflow makes buying a used car a breeze—even when that car is far from your location. Whether you’re buying a Toyota Tacoma, a Tesla Model Y, or a Jeep Wrangler, purchase your next car long-distance from the comfort of your home with the convenience and security of PrivateAuto Pay.

What Is PrivateAuto Pay?

PrivateAuto is our built-in banking integration that enables instant, secure, and fee-free funds transfers up to $1M. It’s a dream come true for car sellers.

Your PrivateAuto Pay account is actually a bank account that you own, accessed via your PrivateAuto profile.
Easily move money between your PrivateAuto Pay account and your external bank account via a balance transfer.
Receive up to $1 million instantly from the seller into your PrivateAuto Pay account.
Instant payments arrive any time of day, every day of the year.
No exchange of contact information or banking info.
Encrypted info protects your data from hackers.
Conclude the entire transaction when you meet the buyer for a test drive.
Sell a car to a remote buyer and forgo costly and inconvenient escrow services.

How to Buy a Car Remotely with PrivateAuto?

Our transactional marketplace gives you the workflow and tools to handle all aspects of buying a car. To buy a car in another state easily and securely, follow these steps:

1. Shop used vehicles for sale, make offers, and settle on the vehicle you want to buy.
2. Transfer funds from your regular bank account (checking or savings) to your PrivateAuto Pay account. If you need to apply for financing, you can do so right in the PrivateAuto app for competitive rates from our FDIC-approved lending partner. The lender will fund your PrivateAuto Pay account for you.
3. Get a car history report (included in the seller’s PrivateAuto listing if they’ve opted for Premium).
4. Arrange for a local inspector to act as your agent and schedule a meeting between the inspector and seller.
5. Arrange car shipping from the seller’s location to yours.
6. The inspector will perform a pre-purchase inspection and test drive the car on your behalf.
7. After the vehicle inspection turns up no issues, you and the seller sign the bill of sale in the PrivateAuto app. You’ll get immediate confirmation that the seller has signed and that you are now safe to pay for the car.
8. Transfer funds to the seller instantaneously via PrivateAuto Pay (works any time of day, any day of the week). The seller will get immediate confirmation of funds received into their PrivateAuto Pay account.
9. The seller signs the vehicle title over to you and hands it over to the inspector, who will send it to you certified mail for you to sign.
10. The inspector ensures the car is loaded onto transport and shipped off to you.
11. You call your insurance company and get an auto insurance policy for the vehicle.
12. You receive your car and finish the title transfer at your state’s DMV or equivalent organization. At the same time, you’ll register it in your name, get new license plates, and pay sales tax (if applicable).
13. Enjoy your new-to-you car!

This all sounds great for buyers on PrivateAuto, but what if you find a car you want to buy on another car listing site? Or maybe a friend of a friend in another state has your dream car?

Fear not; we have a solution that allows you to use PrivateAuto Pay and our amazing dealflow process for cars not listed for sale on PrivateAuto. It’s called DealNow.

What is DealNow?

PrivateAuto allows you to search for used cars out-of-state, communicate with sellers, complete purchases, and handle financing all in one place. But we know you may find a great car listed for sale elsewhere, like on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

That’s why we created DealNow. You get to skip the listing process altogether and go straight to closing the transaction with the power of PrivateAuto Pay.

Here’s how it works:

1. Invite the seller to DealNow via a custom link.
2. Enjoy identity verification, in-app messaging, and our test drive scheduling feature (none of which require you to exchange contact info).
3. Meet the seller, and drive the car.
4. You and the seller go together through a step-by-step transaction process in which you each confirm relevant details right in the PrivateAuto mobile app. From mileage to the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to the condition of the vehicle, we help you both prevent any errors.
5. You and the seller each electronically sign an official bill of sale. This is stored in your PrivateAuto account as a legal record you can refer to down the road.
6. You will then be prompted to initiate payment.
7. The seller will get a notification of funds received and confirm receipt of payment.
8. The seller signs over the car title and hands over the keys.

DealNow is so smooth, so safe, and so fast that you’ll never want to buy a car without it. No matter what state or platform you use to find your seller—DealNow will help you get the deal done.

How to Order Car Transport from RunBuggy

If you don’t want to fly out and drive the car home yourself, you’ll need to have it shipped. We’ve integrated shipping into our dealflow, eliminating the friction of coordinating transport between multiple parties. Welcome to easy, affordable vehicle transport for remote car purchases.

Our RunBuggy partnership gives you fast and affordable car shipping options within the PrivateAuto ecosystem.

Here’s how it works:

1. Get an instant car shipping quote right in the PrivateAuto mobile app.
2. Place your car transport order and specify pickup and dropoff locations.
3. RunBuggy picks the car up. You can stay up to date on its location in your PrivateAuto dashboard.
4. Your car gets delivered. All transport is covered by insurance.

As the world’s only transactional automotive marketplace, we enable seamless private sales end to end. For those who need their car shipped, it just makes sense to wrap the shipping into the transaction process rather than force you to negotiate transport with a separate company.

Learn more in our complete guide to car shipping.

What Should I Ask a Seller When Buying a Car Long Distance?

When buying a car remotely, you shouldn’t worry too much about asking the “right questions,” as a vehicle history report and a good inspection will bring hidden issues to light. Here are some basic questions you can ask if you feel inclined:

Why are you selling this car?
How long have you owned it?
Tell me about its maintenance history?
Who was the main driver of the vehicle, and what were their driving habits?
What sorts of driving conditions was the car mostly driven in?
When not being driven, where was the car parked?
Is the car under warranty? (Most used cars are not under warranty, but if this one is, that’s great news.)
Have any major modifications or repairs been made to it?
Do you have copies of your service records?
Does the car have a clean title? (If it has a branded or salvage title, you definitely want to know this before arranging an inspection.)

All of these questions—and any other communication—happen within our in-app messaging feature, so you'll never need to give out your contact info to a stranger.

Should I Hire an Agent for an Out of State Purchase?

Buying a car sight unseen used to mean hiring an agent to act as your representative. But with the PrivateAuto process, the local mechanic inspecting your vehicle essentially serves as your agent.

After you've located the right car and negotiated a price, we help you arrange for a trusted inspector in the area to thoroughly evaluate the vehicle on your behalf. Not only will they check under the hood and test drive the car, but they will also handle any paperwork and make sure the car gets shipped off to you.

With real-time progress updates, you'll have confidence knowing your inspector-agent is verifying the car's condition before you release funds.

Don't waste time and money on a specialized agent to buy a car remotely. With a professional vehicle inspector acting on your behalf, you can get the car deal done from the other side of the country—in your pajamas.

Do I Pay Sales Tax Twice When Buying a Car Out-of-State?

Whether you pay sales tax twice depends on the rates in each state:

If you paid the same sales tax rate as your home state, you won't pay again.
If you paid no sales tax, you'll owe your home state's full sales tax amount.
If you paid less sales tax, your home state charges the rate difference.
If you paid more sales tax, your home state won't refund but also won't charge more.

The rule is that you always pay the sales tax rate of your home state - no more, no less. You won't pay double taxes, but you may owe additional tax if the origin state has a lower rate.

When I Buy a Car From a Private Seller, Can I Drive It Home?

If you're purchasing a car locally, you can typically drive it home once the paperwork is signed and payment is completed. However, if you buy long-distance, driving the car back yourself gets more complicated.

Here's what to consider:

Research regulations in every state you'll drive through. Some require valid registration and plates in the new owner's name before operating on public roads.
Consider temporary transport permits, which provide short-term registration for driving an unregistered vehicle home. Requirements vary by state.
The car will still be registered and insured under the seller's name until paperwork is filed. Verify that you have proper coverage.
Make copies of the bill of sale and title paperwork signed by the seller to carry during your trip. This proves ownership while in transit.
Plan your route to minimize out-of-state driving until you are properly registered and plated. Avoid areas where you're more likely to be pulled over.

While driving your new car home saves shipping costs, it takes careful planning when purchased remotely. Consulting your DMV and getting temporary permits can help make it legal and smooth.

How to Stay Safe When Buying a Car Remotely?

1. Don’t exchange personal contact info with strangers. PrivateAuto lets you message within our app, so your details stay private.
2. Don’t release funds to the seller until the following occurs:
a. The inspector confirms the condition of the car is as expected
b. The inspector confirms the odometer reading
c. The seller signs the bill of sale in the PrivateAuto app
3. Deal with trustworthy vehicle inspectors only.
4. Use PrivateAuto Pay to transfer funds so that the seller gets them immediately and can release the car. Also, with PrivateAuto Pay, your banking info stays safe.

Follow these guidelines, and your remote car buying experience should be a good one.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Car Out of State

Buying a car from an out-of-state seller expands your options beyond just local inventory, but also comes with additional hassles to consider.

On the plus side, searching nationwide gives you access to more listings and, in many cases, better pricing. However, purchasing remotely also introduces logistical challenges.

Pros of an out-of-state car purchase:

1. Expanded selection from broader market beyond local inventory.
2. Potential to find better pricing through a far-reaching search.
3. Access to vehicles is not available nearby.

Cons of an out-of-state car purchase:

1. Can't personally inspect car before purchasing.
2. Costly shipping if not driving the car home.
3. Additional sales tax paperwork and payments.
4. Registration and titling processes are more complex.
5. Harder to resolve issues with distant seller after purchase.

For some buyers, the pros may be worth the extra steps. But for others, the advantages may not outweigh the added inconvenience. Carefully assess your own situation to determine if an out-of-state purchase makes sense according to your transportation needs and preferences.

Find your Dream Car on PrivateAuto

You’ll love how smooth and secure the car buying process is when you use the PrivateAuto mobile app.

1. Browse used cars for sale by owner. Filter by location, vehicle type, or other criteria.
2. Make offers on vehicles you like (PrivateAuto lets you offer less than the asking price).
3. Message the seller with any questions without giving your contact info.
4. Schedule the test drive while keeping your personal details private.
5. Electronically sign the bill of sale along with the seller.
6. Instantly send payment and take ownership of the car when the seller signs the title and gives you the keys.
Image highlighting Buying Car Privately by PrivateAuto
Looking to sell your car? Create a listing on PrivateAuto and connect with interested buyers today!

Frequently Asked Questions about Paying for an Out of State Vehicle

What if I can't afford to pay the full amount in cash?

Financing a used car is perfectly normal; most people can't afford to pay cash upfront. With PrivateAuto's integrated financing, you can buy your next car with ease and confidence when you get a car loan through our integrated lending partner.

The entire process happens seamlessly within the PrivateAuto app. After a credit score check, you can get approved in minutes for competitive used auto loan rates. The lender then deposits the funds into your PrivateAuto Pay account.

You’ll send payment to the seller from your funded PrivateAuto Pay account. The seller receives the funds instantly, the same as if you were sending your own money. No coordination with the lender required.

There's no waiting on cashier’s checks or loan paperwork. You’ll make payments to the lender afterwards, just like with any other car loan.

PrivateAuto understands that financing is often needed to buy a used car. We make the entire experience—from auto loan approval to driving off—hassle-free, so you can focus on finding the perfect car at the right price.

No more going to an external bank for your personal loan and jumping through a ton of hoops. If you’re in the market, feel free to get started with car financing here!

Does PrivateAuto offer plans for loan payments?

What are the best transport services?

How to avoid fraud when buying a car?

What to do after you buy a car from a private seller?