How Long Does It Take To Buy A Car?

Have you ever thought about how long it takes to buy a new car? Buying a car can be an overwhelming process, especially when you are buying for the first time.

There are many things involved in buying a car, including if you leave out the chance that the dealer has the car you want.

If you have money, you can buy a car in as little as under two hours. But that’s also assuming the car you’re buying has all the documents needed and already processed.

Most of the time, buying a car will take longer, particularly if you want the best car deal, and the best car, for the least amount of money. This means patience is key when you’re buying a car.

Here’s all you need to know about how long it takes to buy a car.

What Affects The Purchase Time?

Many car buyers come into the dealership inadequately prepared. They come before deciding which car they want to buy or without checking their credit score or credit report.

Sometimes many people do not have proper documentation such as proof of car insurance or the title for their trade-in.

Here are the main factors that influence the period it takes to buy a car:

  • How much do you want to spend?
  • How are you financing your car – financing through a bank, or whether you need to go through the dealership? The latter will take longer.
  • Are you buying a new vehicle using cash,
  • Are you buying a new car, or you have a car to trade-in or sell?
  • How long do you want to take on a test drive?

On some occasions, car dealers delay the process of buying a car. Dealers’ strategy is to wear a car buyer down to get the price of the car in their favor.

Car dealer showing vehicle to client.

How Much Do You Want To Spend?

The amount of money you want to spend on a car does not just include the cost of purchase or the cost of car insurance. There is a lot more to factor in.

But, even if you go to a dealership without figuring how much you want to spend on a car, it will take you a lot of time to decide.

When deciding how much you want to spend, remember to include other added costs such as insurance and licensing costs. You may have figured out these costs before visiting the dealership, but it is important to check out with the dealer as well.

Are You Buying A Car With Cash?

Fun fact: buying a car with cash does not mean you come in with money bags. So long as you are not financing the car through the dealership – you are a cash buyer.

Buying a car with cash can take a short time as long as you come in prepared. You can be in and out of a dealership in as little as one hour if you factor in price or trade negotiation.

Are You Financing The Car Through The Dealership?

Financing the car at the dealership, or using a car loan from a dealer depends on your creditworthiness. The process can take an hour or days, also depending on how prepared you are before arriving at the dealership.

Always avoid any offers to take the car before having your financing completed and in place, particularly if you have a trade-in. Doing so can expose you to exploitation by the dealer.

You will drive the car home for days, or even weeks, later the dealership may recall the car back either because you need to agree to a higher car for the price or you cannot be approved.

Are You Working On A Trade-In?

Having a trade-in will extend how long it takes to buy a car, not just for hours.

The dealership will want to inspect your car first before making you an offer or beginning to negotiate on what you are offering.

Smiling happy mechanic technician inspector foreman with clipboard at car maintenance repair service station

Here is a tip: If you have a car to trade and the dealership gives you an offer you feel is not fair, leave and try your luck at another dealership.

How Should You Speed Up Car Buying Time

You can make your car buying process go faster by doing a few things, such as:

  • Get your financing prior to the car buying day or come in with cash.
  • Figure out the other additional items, besides the car, you would want to buy at the dealership before going in, such as insurance or warranty.
  • Shop around among other dealerships – online or over the phone – to negotiate the best deal in advance.

What Documents Should You Carry With You To The Dealership

As we have previously mentioned, being unprepared can lengthen the amount of time you take to buy a car.

What many people probably do not know, but realize later, is that the dealership’s process of buying a car is designed to wear the customer down by dragging everything out.

So, if you want to take more time at the dealership, simply go in completely unprepared. Otherwise, you can trim some of that time and speed things up. These include:

  • Carry with you a proof of car insurance (if you already have one).
  • Secure your own outside financing.
  • Carry out a credit score examination in prior.
  • Carry your driver’s license.
  • Carry a trade-in vehicle title.
  • Carry your current registration (for trade-in).
  • Have in place a trade-in loan account number (if applicable).

Line up which additional add-on products (insurance, warranties, etc.) you may need.

This list is not everything you need, but some of the essential documents that will help boost your car buying time and reduce the duration.

How Long Does It Take To Buy A Used Car?

It takes a different process to buy a used car. However, the process is almost equal in duration to buying other cars or trading-in a car. But it can be elongated because:

Inspecting the car or ordering an inspection on the car can extend the duration of time it takes to buy compared to when you are buying a new car.

Used cars are always cheaper, which makes it easier to buy outright with cash or finance (this is on average).

Happy satisfied young man receiving car keys after second hand sale - Concept business transport trade of modern luxury vehicles - Car rental assistance and insurance customer care

It takes time, and is complex, to search and get a favorable used car. For instance, you can find one looking good online then find out that it has issues upon the visit.

So, in short, buying a used car can be a short and sweet process or a long and boring process than buying a new vehicle.

What Other Things Should You Consider After Buying The Car?

  • Test Drive – Can be 30 minutes or more depending on your agreement with the car dealer. Take caution not to get emotional with the car as that will reduce your negotiating power.
  • How long does it take to get the title? – Usually, you will get an e-Title to be stored with the DMV electronically. You will get the e-Title on your email as a notification after buying the car.
  • How long will it take to get the license plates? – essentially, you will get the license plates between 7 and 10 days after buying the car. Sometimes you can get the plate the same day depending on the dealership.


If you are well prepared, you may not take long to buy a car. When you want to avoid taking long to buy a car, simply conduct proper research and prepare yourself well before going to the dealership.