If you are under 18 and perusing some of the best car sites to buy a car, you may be unsure whether you can actually purchase a vehicle from these sites, a dealership or a local listing. Before deciding what type of car you want to purchase, you should first understand your state laws on buying a car, especially if you are a minor.
Buying a Car With a Loan
The first step to purchasing a car is figuring out finances. If unable to pay in cash, many people choose to take out a car loan to make the purchase. Unfortunately, most lenders will not allow a minor to take out a loan. Even if a lender does not have an age restriction or will lend to a 17-year-old, borrowers generally need to have a good credit score to receive a better loan. This is something most 17-year-olds do not have, simply on the basis of not having had enough time to build good credit.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, pre-approval for a loan helps buyers negotiate an auto loan with dealers. Without pre-approval, the buyer can be at a disadvantage. For minors looking to purchase a vehicle without parental consent, the car is out of reach, especially if they need a loan.
Can a 17-Year-Old Buy a Car?
While some states do not have an age restriction on who can purchase a vehicle, most require buyers to be at least 18 years old, while others require them to be at least 19. However, this does not mean that a teenager with a valid driver's license cannot purchase a vehicle; they just cannot do it without parental consent.
Some states will waive the age restriction if the parent or legal guardian fills out a waiver. This is the case in Michigan. According to the Michigan state government, dealers can sell a vehicle to an unemancipated minor if the parent or legal guardian fills out Form B-32. If accepted by the dealer, the dealer must keep the form on file in their records along with other transaction documents.
While there are other ways to purchase a vehicle, private sellers are rarely differentiated from dealerships in the state's eyes. Even if you use one of the best car sites to buy a car, you will still be subject to your state's laws.
Can a Minor Register a Vehicle?
Even if a 17-year-old can purchase a vehicle without parental consent in your state, you may run into issues when titling and registering your car. If a state does not have an age restriction on purchasing a vehicle, many have restrictions on who can title and register a car with the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
What exactly is the difference between titling and registering? A title is a certificate that proves you are the owner of the vehicle, while registration allows you to drive the vehicle on public roads and highways. Without one or both, you cannot legally drive the vehicle.
Whether or not a minor can title and register a vehicle varies state by state. In some states, an individual with a valid driver's license can do both. For example, in New York, according to New York's DMV site, you must be at least 16 years old to register a vehicle and can title one at any age. Other states require an individual to be a legal adult. It is important to check with your local DMV to find your state's laws.
Consider also: Can You Get a Car Loan at 16?