Skip to Main Content
Call for a free Consultation 503-546-3167

What You Should Know Before Buying a Car in Oregon

Buying a car is a major investment. It pays to shop around. You want the vehicle you choose to be mechanically sound, offer good fuel mileage, and boast the safety features needed to protect you against car accidents. It is also important that you are not paying more than the car is worth. With that in mind, here’s some helpful information on some of the fees included in your vehicle’s purchase price, as well as tips on how to negotiate the best deal in Oregon.

Fees When Buying A Car

New car buyers are often shocked at the difference between a car’s sticker price and the price it costs to drive it off the lot. This is due to the fees added by your dealership. According to Consumer Reports, these are likely to include the following:

  • Sales tax: Oregon’s zero percent vehicle sales tax makes it a great state in which to purchase a car, but non-residents will be expected to register their vehicles and pay the appropriate tax in their home state.
  • Title and registration: Set by the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), these depend on the type of vehicle you are purchasing.
  • Documentation fee: These are fees charged by the dealer for processing your title and registration, which the DMV limits to a maximum of $150.
  • Destination charge: This covers shipment of the vehicle to the lot, and varies depending on the dealer.

You will likely be offered a variety of different types of warranties and insurance policies, including Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP) insurance which covers any unpaid car payments in the event of an accident. While this is important coverage to have, it may be included as part of your loan servicing.

Price Negotiations

You should always take the time to research any vehicle you are buying before committing to a purchase. Sites such as Edmunds allow you to review information on price and reliability by car year, make, and model online, and offer these tips on how to negotiate the best deal:

  • Make sure the dealership you visit has good customer reviews.
  • Between test driving, making offers, researching cars, and financing, expect to be there at least four hours.
  • Pick a salesperson who is not intimidating and is willing to work with you.
  • Keep your facts handy, including the car’s True Market Value (TMV) and what it is selling for at other dealerships;
  • Take risks in making offers, and do not be afraid to walk out if you do not get the deal you want.

To keep your price low, avoid purchasing dealer add on services that tend to be unnecessary or have high markups. These include extended warranties, special paint coatings, and fabric protection.

Keep in mind when buying a new car in Oregon that you don’t have three days after purchase to change your mind. However, thanks to the Oregon Lemon Law, if your newly purchased car has any persistent malfunctioning issues you may be eligible for a replacement vehicle or compensation.

Buying A Car From A Private Party

Purchasing a vehicle from a private party can have its advantages; lower prices generally, not being sold on expensive add-ons from a dealer, and avoiding dealer fees. However, it is in your best interest to consider the following when buying a car from a private seller:

  • Learn about the car’s history. It’s always a good idea to ask the seller how long they have owned the vehicle, what problems the car has had in the past, and the reason they are selling it.
  • Is the car worth the price asked? Thoroughly research the price point and value of similar vehicles for sale to determine if the vehicle is fair-priced.
  • Check the car title. Ask the seller if they have the title and verify it is in their name. If it isn’t, they have no business selling the vehicle.
  • Check their I.D. Ask to see their I.D. to verify the name on the car title.
  • Test drive the vehicle. If it is ok with the seller, take the car for a spin to get a better feel of how the car operates.
  • Have the vehicle checked by a professional. If it is ok with the owner, ask if you can take the vehicle to an auto specialist you trust to check for any concerning issues.
  • Negotiate the price if you feel the need. Most private sellers are motivated to get rid of the vehicle and are fairly flexible on the price.
  • Get the title signed. If you end up purchasing the vehicle, don’t forget to have the seller sign the title indicating the release of the car to you.
  • Watch for red flags. If the seller asks you to send a money order to them, or for any of your private information, it is a scam. It’s best to never buy a vehicle unseen or without meeting the seller in person.

There are countless examples of buyers being taken advantage of when attempting to buy a car from a private party. If you are looking to buy a car from the private market make sure to thoroughly research the vehicle and ensure the seller has the proper title to complete the transaction.

Our Portland Car Accident Attorneys Are Here For You

Even with all the safety features newer cars come with, accidents and injuries can still occur. If you or someone you love is involved in a car accident, contact the Johnston Law Firm today. We provide the professional legal representation you need to assist you in getting the compensation you deserve.


Marc Johnston

Lead Attorney at Johnston Law Firm, P.C.

Based in downtown Portland, Marc A. Johnston is the owner and managing attorney of the award-winning, internationally-known personal injury law firm, Johnston Law Firm, P.C. Marc's career has been dedicated to representing the injured and individuals who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. His focus on trial law creates the backbone of the Johnston Law Firm — a firm that is ready to go the distance in seeking justice for its clients.