Transportation

CARS

There is a lot to know about having a car in Los Angeles – registration, inspection, insurance, accidents, etc. – but we have provided a lot of information below to help get you started!

Deciding whether to buy a car in Los Angeles can be difficult. Here are some pros and cons to car buying:

ADVANTAGES
  • Easily visit areas outside Los Angeles.
  • More flexibility in your travel times.
  • Ability to go out late at night when public transportation is difficult to find.
DISADVANTAGES
  • Parking in Westwood is extremely limited.
  • It is very difficult for students to get to UCLA.
  • Gas and insurance can be expensive.
  • Selling your car is a hassle at the end of your stay.
BUYING A CAR

Buying a car in the United States can be quite daunting for a lot of international students but using the information below can make care buying and selling much easier!

Craigslist / Private Sellers

This website can be great resource for buying cars as well as other goods, but beware of scams! Always make sure you see the car in person and test drive it before you buy it. Also, ask the owner to provide you with a proof of an independent inspection done by a mechanic to look for the hidden problems or maintenance issues. Never buy a used car from someone who doesn’t have the title to a vehicle (as the car may be stolen). Take the time to educate yourself on how to buy from a private seller before you make any decisions.

Car Dealership

Make sure you do not simply pay the “sticker price” (advertised price) of the vehicle, as the price the dealership is willing to sell the car for is often well below that amount. Always try to negotiate or bargain with the salesperson you’re working with. CarMax is a dealership in particular where do actually do not haggle or negotiate the price of the car. You may not get the lowest price, but CarMax carefully and reconditions every car they sell, insuring that the car you buy is in good condition. For details, visit www.carmax.com

CAR SALES

Excerpt taken from Student Legal Services Website

STEPS TO FOLLOW TO TRANSFER LEGAL TITLE TO A VEHICLE

1. Seller and Buyer agree on the terms of the sale and sign a written Sale Contract (there is a sample contract below).

2. Seller signs the Certificate of Title (“pink slip”) and gives it to Buyer.

3. Seller completes and signs the Bill of Sale and Odometer Disclosure Statement and gives them to Buyer, along with the current Registration and a current smog certificate.

4. Seller completes and signs the Notice of Release of Liability form and sends or delivers it to the DMV.

5. Buyer goes to the DMV to register the vehicle and must have: a signed Bill of Sale and Odometer Disclosure Statement, a signed Certificate of Title, the current Registration, a current smog certificate, proof of insurance (at least minimum liability coverage), and a check for the registration fees and taxes.

TIPS FOR BUYING A CAR

1. Check out the car carefully and be sure it is in good condition and has the features you want. If it is a used car, question the owner about the condition of the car and be certain the Seller is the owner of the car (check the Seller’s driver’s license to see if it has the same name as the Certificate of Title). Take a test drive and, if you have any concerns, have an expert mechanic check the car for you. If the Seller is selling the car “as is,” then you bear the burden of determining whether the car is in good condition.

2. Before buying a used car, you should be sure you are paying a fair price. The Kelley Blue Book and various internet sites can be helpful in learning the value of a car.

3. If you are buying a new car, shop around and negotiate with the dealer for a price lower than the “sticker price.” There is flexibility in the price the dealer first proposes.

4. If you are financing the purchase of your car, be sure you understand the terms and know you can afford the monthly payments. Before you start shopping for a car, review your budget and check out car loans at local banks and credit unions. The rates vary and you want to get the best deal you can – which may not be from the dealer. If you are buying the car from a dealer, you may have to return the car if the dealer cannot arrange financing for you and you cannot come up with the money on your own.

5. Always put the actual purchase price on the Bill of Sale. Sometimes people will put a lower price to try to reduce the amount of tax the Buyer pays, but this can lead to problems. Not only is it illegal (and the DMV is really cracking down on this practice), but you may not be able to recover the full amount you paid if there are problems with the car and you have to sue the Seller.

6. You must have minimum liability insurance for any motor vehicle you own or drive in California. This means your insurance must include liability coverage of at least $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident for bodily injury and $5,000 for property damage. This insurance is required for ALL motor vehicles, including cars, mopeds, motorcycles, and trucks.

TIPS FOR SELLING A CAR

1. Be very careful to be accurate when you describe the car to potential buyers. If you misrepresent the condition of the car, you might be sued by the Buyer you misled. It is advisable to say you are selling the car “as is,” which places the burden on the Buyer to ascertain the actual condition of the car.

2. Always put the actual purchase price on the Bill of Sale. Sometimes people will put a lower price to try to reduce the amount of tax the Buyer pays, but this can lead to problems. It is illegal, and the DMV is really cracking down on this practice.

3. File the Notice of Release of Liability form with the DMV as soon as you sell your car. It will protect you from being responsible for any damage caused by the new owner.

4. Keep your insurance on the car for a few days after you sell it just in case the Buyer delays registering the car or the DMV does not receive your Release of Liability form right away.

The information contained in this article is of a general nature. If you have a similar problem, you should consult with an attorney. Currently registered UCLA students are encouraged to call Student Legal Services to make an appointment (310.825.9894). Appointment hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Student Legal Services is located in A239 Murphy Hall.

RENTAL CARS

If you do not own a car in Los Angeles you may occasionally need to rent a car. There are numerous rental car companies all over Los Angeles so even if you can’t make it all the way to the airport to rent a car, there is probably a rental agency somewhere close to where you live. Usually the best rental rates are found online and even cheaper if you rent from the airport locations. Always ask for a student discount. Many companies require drivers to be 25 years of age or they might charge extra for younger drivers.

Liability Insurance: You should have insurance for your rental in case something happens but check with your credit card company first because most offer FREE insurance on rental cars if you pay with their card but you must decline the rental company's coverage for it to work. Also, if you already have car insurance, rentals may already be covered under your policy so make sure to check your policy first. Some car rental companies: Hertz, National, Alamo, Thrifty, Dollar, Enterprise, Avis, Budget

AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE

In the state of California, all vehicles must be insured, whether you own it or rent it. A copy of the rental agreement outlining the insurance coverage or insurance card must be carried in the vehicle at all times. Prices for car insurance very from company to company. Find out the minimum amount of car insurance you must carry. Obtain car insurance quotes from at least three insurers before you make a decision. But don’t shop on price alone, look at the company’s reputation, customer service and the type of coverage and discounts it offers. Many offer “Good Student” discounts if you have at least a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).
Also, here is some great advice from UCLA Student Legal Services Website on what kinds of insurance coverage is out there:

Buying automobile insurance can be confusing because there are many types of coverage available. Knowing what each type of insurance pays for will help you get the best coverage for you.

Liability insurance: Liability insurance pays for the damage you cause to another person or property if you are at fault in an accident. It covers the injured person’s medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering; and the cost to repair the other person’s vehicle and rental car during the repair.

California law requires everyone who drives or owns a car to have liability insurance. The minimum amount of liability insurance mandated by California law is $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident (in case more than one person is injured) in bodily injury coverage and $5,000 for property damage. If you can afford it, it is a good idea to have more than the minimum amount of liability coverage, because you will be personally responsible to pay for any damages that exceed the amount of your insurance. If you do not have the minimum liability insurance and are in an accident involving any bodily injury or property damage in excess of $750, your driver license will be suspended for a year even if you are not at fault in the accident.

Collision insurance: Collision insurance pays for the damage to your car due to a collision with another object (e.g., vehicle, tree, fire hydrant), no matter who is at fault in the accident. Your insurance company will pay to repair your car if you caused the accident; it also will repair your car if the person at fault is uninsured (see Uninsured Motorists Insurance, below). You will have to decide how much you want to have as your deductible. The deductible is the amount you have to pay out of pocket before your insurance company will pay. The smaller your deductible, the more expensive your insurance will be. The most typical deductibles are $500 and $1,000, but other amounts are available. Collision insurance generally does not cover the cost of a rental car while your car is being repaired. Rental car coverage is described below. If you finance the purchase of a car with a loan, the lender generally requires you to buy collision and comprehensive insurance; this does not satisfy the legal requirement to have liability insurance.

Comprehensive insurance: Comprehensive insurance covers damage to your car that is not caused by a collision, such as vandalism, fire, theft, falling objects, and glass breakage. Like collision insurance, you will have a deductible with comprehensive coverage. It also generally does not cover rental car costs and is likely to be required if you have a car loan.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance – bodily injury: Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance (“UMI”) is used in situations where the person at fault in the accident does not have insurance or the amount of his/her insurance is not sufficient to pay for all of your damages. Under UMI coverage, your own insurance company pays you what the other driver should be paying for your damages. There is both bodily injury and property damage UMI coverage. The bodily injury coverage will pay for all of your medical costs and lost wages due to the injury. It also will cover “pain and suffering” damages. The amount the insurance company will pay for “pain and suffering” varies with each case, but it is based on the severity and duration of the injury as well as the amount of the medical costs.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance – property damage: As with the uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance for bodily injury, the UMI for property damage pays for the damage to your car where the person at fault in the accident does not have insurance or the amount of his/her insurance is not sufficient to pay for all of your damages. It often has a deductible. Some insurance companies have an option to waive the deductible on your collision coverage if you are in an accident with an uninsured driver who is at fault. This type of coverage often is called collision damage waiver and takes the place of UMI coverage for property damage.

Medical Payments coverage: Med-Pay coverage pays for your medical bills and those of any passengers in your car if you or your passengers are injured in a collision. Some insurance policies will pay if you or a covered member of your household is injured as a pedestrian. A typical amount of coverage is $5,000 per injured person, but lower limits are available and are less expensive.

Rental car coverage: Rental car coverage pays for you to rent a car while your damaged car is being repaired. There is a limit on the daily rental amount covered, as well as a per accident limit. Most collision and comprehensive insurance policies do not include rental car coverage. Thus, you will have to pay for that coverage separately. It typically is not very expensive, however, so it is a good option to consider.

Towing/Emergency Road Service coverage: Insurance policies vary regarding how towing and other emergency road services are handled. Some policies include towing in collision and comprehensive coverage. Others require you to purchase this type of coverage separately. Ask your insurance company whether it is included elsewhere in your policy.

You should shop around when you are buying automobile insurance, as prices vary significantly. Although you want to get a good deal, be sure you are dealing with a reputable company and one that is licensed to sell insurance in California. Check out companies online and with the California Department of Insurance , Ask each insurance company questions so you will know exactly what kind of coverage you are buying and how much it will cost. You also will want to know who is covered under your policy, because policies differ in this crucial area. Some cover only you, while others include members of your household and people who drive your car with your permission; sometimes you have to list in the policy the people who you want to have covered. Insurance is expensive, but you will be glad to have it if you are in an auto accident.

For more information, please visit the Student Legal Services web site: http://www.studentlegal.ucla.edu,

The information contained in this article is of a general nature. If you have a similar problem, you should consult with an attorney. Currently registered UCLA students are encouraged to call Student Legal Services to make an appointment (310.825.9894). Appointment hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Student Legal Services is located in A239 Murphy Hall.

AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS

Excerpt Taken from UCLA Student Legal Services Website

An automobile accident can be a frightening and upsetting experience. Nevertheless, there are certain steps that you should take to comply with the law and preserve your legal rights.

First, California law requires you to stop and exchange information with the other people involved in the accident. You should obtain the following information for everyone involved in the accident: name, address, telephone number, driver's license number, vehicle license number, and insurance information. Try to learn as much as possible about the other driver's insurance, including the name of the company, the policy number, the extent of coverage, and the name of the agent.

Get the name, address, and telephone number of all people who witnessed the accident. You probably will want to contact them later if there is a dispute as to how the accident happened.

You should make an initial assessment of any personal injuries and property damage resulting from the accident while you are still at the scene. Make a written record of these observations. You also should take photos of the damage to all of the involved vehicles with your cell phone or camera.

Above all, try to remain calm. It generally is advisable not to discuss liability at the scene of the accident, even though it may be tempting to do so in the heat of the moment. Because the issue of liability can be complicated, you should discuss the accident with an attorney before you admit it was your fault.

The Los Angeles police generally do not come to the scene of an accident or make a report unless someone is seriously injured or there is damage to public property. The people involved in the accident, however, are required to file a report of the accident (called an SR-1) with the Department of Motor Vehicles if the accident involves more than $750.00 of property damage or any personal injuries. If the SR-1 report is filed, all parties to the accident will be required to provide proof of insurance. If you were uninsured on the date of the accident, your driver's license will be suspended for one year.

If you plan to make a claim with your insurance company, you should contact your agent as soon as possible. You also should obtain two or three written estimates for the repair of any damage to your vehicle.

If you are injured, you should seek medical attention immediately. Keep the receipts for all medical treatment, including medications, and maintain a record of all losses you sustain as a result of your injuries (e.g., lost wages).

The information contained in this article is of a general nature. If you have a similar problem, you should consult with an attorney. Currently registered UCLA students are encouraged to call Student Legal Services to make an appointment (310.825.9894). Appointment hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Student Legal Services is located in A239 Murphy Hall.



CA Dept of Motor Vehicles


Student Legal Services