Speed Up Car Buying Paperwork

If you decide to do a traditional delivery, here's what to bring with you to speed you on your way:

Your driver license: You have to drive the car off the lot, so the dealer needs to know that you are a legally registered driver. The driver license also serves as identification for your check or other form of payment.

Title for your trade-in vehicle: The title, sometimes called the "pink slip," shows that you are the owner of the trade-in vehicle. Locate that document and see how the car is "titled" (meaning, who legally owns it). If there is a co-signer or a lien against the title, get the required signature ahead of time. Be careful at this stage. Any mistakes in how the title is signed might make it unacceptable to the dealer or lead to it being rejected by the state's motor vehicle registry. Again, if you are unclear on what to do, call the dealership's finance manager ahead of time and get some help. You also can check your state's motor vehicle registry Web site to see where to sign the title.

Current vehicle registration for trade-in: You will need a copy of your current registration for your trade-in vehicle. Locate this important document, verify that the registration is current and also check that the sticker is on the license plate.

Proof of insurance: To drive a new car off the lot you need to prove that you have insurance on that car. You can call ahead and set up the new insurance policy if you know which car you are buying. Or you can call from the dealership and give your insurance company the new car's vehicle identification number (VIN). Your insurer will fax or email an insurance card to the dealership. In some cases, however, all the dealer requires is for you to show that you have a current auto insurance policy. To protect yourself, it's best to plan ahead and set up the insurance for the new car.

Account number for trade-in loan: If you are trading in a car for which there is an unpaid loan, you will need to bring the loan's account number, which is on one of your payment stubs. Better yet, call the lender yourself, explain that you are trading in the car and ask how to facilitate the transaction. If you are car shopping on the weekend, ask if a representative is available to handle the transfer.