Buying a used car is often a challenging yet exciting experience. All your research and searching has finally paid off and you have settled on a car that suits your needs, wants, and budget. Even though you are already behind the wheel, there are a few things you need to do to make your purchase complete, and your takeover of the title official. If you are unsure what to do after you buy a used car, here are five things to do next to protect your new investment and make sure your vehicle is safe, legal, and road ready.

1. Get Your Vehicle Inspected

Ideally you will have your vehicle inspected before you actually purchase the vehicle. If you bought your used car from a dealership, the dealer should have given you proof of the most recent inspection or offered an inspection at no cost in their service bay. Many times even if you buy your used car from a private party they will be able to provide proof that the vehicle has passed inspection in the past year. With a little negotiating you can usually stipulate the seller have the car inspected before purchase is complete.

If you have not had the vehicle inspected, you should do so as soon after purchase as possible. This will let you know if there are any maintenance issues that need to be addressed and help you find out the true value of your car. A certified inspection facility will be able to provide a complete mechanical inspection to identify any issues that need to be repaired or attended to.

2. Register Your Vehicle

Your next step is to register your pre-owned car with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles. According to state law, a vehicle must be registered with the state in order to legally operate that vehicle on state-maintained public roads. Registering your car also proves that you own it. Should the car every be stolen, you have a much higher chance of getting it back if the car is registered in your name. In order to register your car you will need the title in hand and the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) found under the driver's side windshield.

3. Check Emissions and Safety Inspection Status

Your next step is to make sure your car is safe and passes your state's emissions standards. Nearly any mechanic or vehicle service center can offer an inexpensive safety and smog inspection in less than a half hour. They will check multiple categories including, safety belts, lights and turn signals, brakes, and your muffler and exhaust system to make sure your car does not emit excessive quantities of noxious fumes and is safe for operation on state roadways.

4. Insurance

Your final step is to make sure your insurance is current and add your used car or truck to your policy's coverage. Shop around to find the best deal on insurance, and pick and choose from different deductibles, premiums, and types of coverage to suit your needs and budget. After you add your vehicle to your insurance policy, ask them to email a new proof of insurance certificate to you. Print out a copy, along with a copy of your title, to keep in the glove box. Now your car is road ready, and can be trusted to get where you need to be safely, reliably and legally.