How to buy a car from another state

The bad news? When the car was delivered to McDarby in Virginia, it had suffered damage in transit, including paint scratches and damage to trim. McDarby had not taken out cargo insurance. After some negotiation, the dealership put her in touch with a qualified repair shop in her area and agreed to pay for the repairs, except for a crack in the windshield.

“The windshield damage did not occur while the car was in our possession,” said George Meza, sales manager at Audi Des Moines.

McDarby’s experience is a cautionary tale that is relevant to many car buyers today. Over the past year, some car buyers have been forced to turn to dealerships in other states — in some cases, dealerships across the country — to find the specific car they want.

“We have seen severe supply shortages for some vehicles,” says Mark Simpson, automotive analyst at Black Book, an automotive price data company and partner of Consumer Reports.

Indeed, the automotive industry is facing an unprecedented shortage of new and used vehicles due to a sustained global shortage of microchips and supply chain issues.

Only about 1.1 million new vehicles were sold in the United States in December 2021, a 32% drop from the previous year, according to a Cox Automotive report. Additionally, the lack of new cars on the market has spurred remarkably high demand for used vehicles. The average used car sold for a record $28,000 in January, according to Carfax data.

The bottom line: You may have trouble finding a car you want to buy from a local dealership. Expanding your search to dealerships in other states might be a solution, but it’s not a seamless process.

Here are five steps to follow when buying a vehicle in another state.

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