May 19, 2020

Florida is a land of sun and sand but much like the natural beauty found in the Everglades, if you’re not careful, you can end up in a very dangerous situation. Florida is a state that though it’s on the far east of the nation, when it comes to buying a car, it can easily end up feeling like you’re in the wild wild west. The reason for this is that Florida doesn’t require any sort of safety or emission inspection during the life of a car. So when you purchase a car in Florida it’s imperative that you dig in further to the history of the vehicle then you typically would for cars in other states. Over the course of this article, we’re going to review some of the laws in Florida, how you can assure that your purchase is a smart one, and how you can save a little money in the process. 

Avoiding The Dangers

Since inspections aren’t required in Florida, poor maintenance can become a major issue and cause a car to be in deep disrepair. Many times it won’t be evident from the look of the vehicle either. Thanks to the nice weather it’s easy to keep a car’s body in good shape. It ends up also being easy to skip major maintenance issues since nobody will be checking. Because of this, there are 3 things you need to do when you’re going to buy a car in Florida. 

VIN Check

  • Do a Florida VIN Check. That’s right, this is going to tell you more than you can find out from any sort of free Florida VIN Verification. In fact, the Florida DMV VIN check that you can get from the state only covers one thing that we’ll discuss a little later.  Getting a high-quality VIN check completed on a Florida owned car will tell you exactly how well it’s been maintained. 

For instance, the maintenance record for one Kia we found had only 2 oil changes recorded over a 3 year period and no other maintenance. That’s a major red flag that no other source would have alerted you to. 

No matter what the next two steps tell you about the car, this one verifies the way a car was maintained and will have the biggest effect on how well it will run in the future. In addition, it will show you major problems like theft, odometer inconsistencies, or salvage status after a major accident. It will tell you if the car has been branded as a Lemon too. More on that later. Should the vehicle be under a lien, the FL VIN check will show you that as well so all your bases will be covered.


  • Get a PPI. A PPI is a pre-purchase inspection. It can be compared to the other side of a coin with the VIN check in Florida. Where the VIN Check will show you the history of maintenance, the PPI will show you the current condition of the car and parts that are near or at the end of their life at the time of the inspection. Sometimes the seller won’t even be aware of these issues so it’s a valuable tool for you, the buyer to ensure you’re not buying something with obvious pending issues. 

If possible, get an independent party to carry out the inspection. It’s our recommendation that the PPI only be completed after finding a vehicle with a history of great maintenance on their VIN search in Florida. There’s no sense in spending the money before you’re sure it was maintained well in the past. Considering the car we mentioned earlier with only a few oil changes over the years, it may not be showing outward signs of engine trouble, but the history report makes it clear that it’s highly likely to have such issues in the future.

 Market Knowledge

  • Know the market. Understanding the vehicle’s worth in the area and time of the year that you’re buying it can change how you negotiate with the seller. For instance, sports cars and convertibles will spike in value over the spring and summer months while SUVs and pickups will rise slightly towards fall and winter. In addition, most dealers don’t expect their customers to have a grasp of how values fluctuate, so if you find the right car for a price that seems too high compared to the market you can use that information to negotiate the price. 

Florida Car Sales Law

There is a free VIN lookup in Florida but there are some caveats. Namely, it only shows if the vehicle is a Florida titled vehicle and if it has a lien on the title. Here’s an example.  That’s why it’s so worthwhile to spend a few dollars on a high-quality VIN history report. It will tell you about the lien if there is one and so much more. In addition, there is no Lemon law for used vehicles so knowing if a car has had major issues that weren’t fully repaired is imperative. Once the vehicle is considered “Used” you can’t force the manufacturer to repair the item under the new car lemon law. Finally, there’s no “buyers remorse” return law in Florida so once you’ve signed on the dotted line, the car is yours for good. 

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