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Buying a Car

Buying a Car

Searching Online:
Online search engines are a good place to start your search when looking to buy a car. Websites like can help you search for many different types of cars from many different sellers that are close to where you live. This way, you can compare similar cars from different locations quickly. After you find a specific car, or small list of specific cars that interest you, it is a good idea to contact the seller or dealer and visit them in person.

Car Dealers:
There are two kinds of car dealers in Nashville – certified car dealers and non-certified car dealers. If you are considering spending a lot of money (more than $8,000-$10,000) on a used car or you want to search for a newer car that is only a few years old (about five years old or less) it is much better to buy it from certified car dealers. Those car dealers are the local distributors certified by specific car manufacturers. In other words, car manufacturers have to guarantee the quality of used cars sold in those car dealers, and you can also enjoy the maintenance services provided by them.

If you are considering spending less money on a used car and you are not familiar the mechanics of cars, looking for a non-certified car dealers may be a reasonable choice. CarMax, which is located near the “100 Oaks Shopping Mall”, is the largest non-certified car dealer in the U.S. Just like the certified car dealers, it guarantees the quality of its used cars and offers maintenance services. However, the quality of the cars may not be comparable to that offered by certified car dealers.

If you want to spend a small amount of money on your car (about $5,000 or less), you may consider buying a car from other non-certified car dealers. To minimize fraud, only buy a car from a non-certified car dealer which is authorized by the State of Tennessee. According to the law, all car dealers must have a license (posted in their office) authorized by the Tennessee state government.

Individual Sellers:

If you buy from an individual seller, rather than a dealership, it is very important for you to make sure that the name and address on the title is the same as the seller’s name and address by checking their ID. Also, you should make sure that you take the car title from the previous owner when you complete the purchase.


When buying a used car, there are multiple ways to make sure that you avoid buying a car that already has many problems. There are many databases, such as that provide the history of the specific car you are interested in. This way, you can know if the car has been in any accidents, and see how often the car has been inspected, among other things. The carfax history might be available for free through the dealer, or you might need to pay a small fee to access it online.

Also, it is a good idea to have the car inspected by an independent mechanic before you purchase it. For about $100, a mechanical inspection can reveal the mechanical condition of the car. You can search online to find a mechanic nearby that will perform the inspection.

If you desire to purchase a car while your are here at Vanderbilt, financing is one option.  However, it is extremely difficult for non-residents and non-citizens to obtain financing.  Moreover, ISSS does not recommend that you accrue any debt in your time here.  You can learn more about financing at

Temporary Plates:

When purchasing a car, make sure that you obtain a temporary license plate from the dealer so that you can drive the car while you wait for an official license plate from the county court.

Additional Help:

Here is a link to a federal government web page about how to buy a used car in America: Because this information is provided by the federal government, you can be sure that the information is sound and objective.

Car Registration

1. A Vehicle Emissions Inspection is required prior to obtaining your state license plates. The fee is $9.00. There are 10 locations in the area. Visit or call(615) 340-5656 for information.
2. Visit for instructions and information on vehicle titling and registration.  Take the title of your car signed by the previous owner and your identification documents to the County Clerk’s Office for registration. (County Clerk’s office is at 523 Mainstream Dr., 615-862-6050, Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., M-F)
3. Pay the registration fee and get your plates.
4. The title certificate will be sent to your mailing address.

Automobile Insurance

If you purchase your own car, you must have third-party automobile insurance. Prices vary so check with several agents before deciding. Often your car dealer will offer an insurance contract but this may not always be the cheapest route. Sufficient coverage is recommended; otherwise you will be liable for any damages incurred in an accident. Tennessee auto insurance liability minimums are 25/50/10: $25,000 per person for bodily injuries you cause to the other party; $50,000 for bodily injuries of two or more persons; and $10,000 for property damage you caused.
To find insurance companies, contact the companies listed below directly or access the yahoo auto section and compare quotes for each company.

Auto Club South (Progressive)
2501 Hillsboro Rd., Ste. 1, Nashville, TN 37212
Tel: 615-297-7700

GEICO 1-800-861-8380

State Farm 1-877-SF4-BANK (1-877-734-2265)

Progressive Insurance 1-800-PROGRESSIVE

Allstate Auto Insurance (847) 402-2372

Auto Repair and Services


Carl Wood’s Garage
108 28th Avenue N (Behind McDonald’s on West End): 615-327-3861

Eddie’s Garage
412 40th Avenue North: 615-321-3601

Sears Automotive Center
5252 Hickory Hollow Parkway: 615-731-9528
Whaley’s Paint and Body Shop
5300 Alabama Avenue (off Charlotte Pike, near I-40): 615-298-5437

Wilkie’s Safety Lane
4400 Charlotte Avenue: 615-292-3464


If you drive a car on campus and plan to park on University property, you have to register for a parking permit from Vanderbilt University. You can apply for this at the Office of Traffic and Parking located on the ground floor of the Wesley Place Parking Garage. You can also apply via their website. The parking permit costs about $252/year. This permit is valid one year from August to August, so if you are participating in the summer program, you need to get a temporary permit during July. Do not to park on campus without permission, or you will receive a parking ticket and your car may be towed.

Office of Traffic and Parking
Wesley Place Garage
2043 Scarritt Place Nashville, TN 37203  Tel: 322-2554



Traffic is often heavy in the morning (7:30-9:00 a.m.) traveling toward downtown, and in the evening (4:30-6:00 p.m.) traveling away from downtown in Nashville. It might be necessary to plan on adding thirty minutes to your commute depending on traffic conditions.  You may also check current traffic conditions on the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s website at