Colorado vs California to buy a car

My son is graduating from college next month, and hopefully will get a job. We live in Colorado, and he may be moving to California - Los Angeles region.

Should we buy a car here, or there?

I conclude he will get the same car job or not. I see three issues 1. If you buy the car in Colorado then he has transportation to CA. 2. Most likely larger market to select from in CA. 3. Sales tax issue for cars bought out of state. There is no complicating emissions equipment or emissions testing issue.

Check prices on line at dealers in CO and CA. If it’s a new car, there might not be much difference. If it’s a used car, there can be significant price differences due to regional preferences. Again, check on line to see what the dealer’s asking prices are. If you decide to buy in CO, contact the CO DMV and explain that your son will buy there and move to CA. Your goal is to avoid paying taxes twice. See if they can explain how to do that.

Need to also check with California DMV. If you purchase and register the car in Colorado, no doubt you will pay sales taxes. If you purchase in CO and take the car out of state on a temporary registration, you may be able to avoid Colorado taxes.

California has a reputation for having some strict rules about taxes and title transfers, and if the final registration is to be in California, your son needs to find out how they treat sales taxes paid in another state credit, or if the mere fact of registering in CO and paying sales taxes in CO renders the issue moot for California, since it is a transfer of registration and not a sale.

Unless the law has changed, you can’t take a new car into California and register it. When I moved there (back in the 90’s), I think the requirement was that the vehicle had to have 7500 miles on it. Goofy law, but that’s California for ya.

Also, if you take a vehicle from another state into California, when you register it there’s a “smog fee” of several hundred dollars because the car is not C.A.R.B. approved.

Do some googling.

Actually this is not correct. You can bring a car into California at any mileage if it is compliant with the California air quality standards. The 7,500 mile rule applies to used cars coming in that are not California compliant.

The smog fee was found illegal years ago and no longer exists.

If you buy a car elsewhere and bring it in to CA, the sales tax business is complex, and it is big bucks because taxes just went up. Depending where you live it can be 10%. Look at for all sorts of information.

When my sister brought 3 cars from AZ to CA in 1996 they had to pay this “smog fee” after the ruling you speak of the money was returned. We get these CA smog questions about every 2 weeks and it prompted me to do “some googling” about 4 months ago. You can use the search feature to see all that the Forum has written about this percieved CA. smog problem.

I wouldn’t worry much about the sales tax issue. It is unlikely that you would end up paying the same tax twice. You may have to pay the difference between CO and CA taxes when you register in CA, but you’d probably get a credit for whatever sales tax you had already paid.