Purchasing a Scooter or Moped

Updated June 2, 2021 . AmFam Team

Mopeds are great for getting around, plus they get amazing gas mileage! From buying and licensing to insuring carefully, this guide is full of tips to help you make the right choice when purchasing a moped or scooter.

Mopeds can be a lot of fun, not to mention they get great gas mileage! But choosing the right one can be tricky. There’s a lot to consider when purchasing a moped — that’s why we’re here to help you every step of the way! Take a look at the following tips for buying a moped or scooter.

What You Need to Know Before You Buy a Moped

Zipping from A to B on a moped can be great for city dwellers with limited parking options and for students looking to get around campus quickly. But before you purchase your moped, here’s what to know:

Questions to answer

You’ll want to find a moped that fits your needs, but first you’ll need to consider how you’ll use it. What’ll be coming with you on the ride? Most mopeds are equipped with under-seat storage and racks for tying down larger items. Will you be bringing along a passenger? If so, you’ll want a moped that’s big enough to hold two people safely. Where are you planning on traveling? How frequently will it be used? The answers to these questions will help you hone in on the features you’ll want when it comes time to purchase.

Your commute

Before you start shopping, consider the length and route of your average commute. Take a look at speed limits along the way and consider the time it will take to get where you’re going. Knowing this will help you decide on the motor size of your moped and can dictate how fast your moped will need to go. Also, look at the kinds of terrain you’ll be riding on so you can match the tire type with the road you’ll be riding on.

Know Moped Laws First

Understanding how mopeds are classified (Opens in a new tab) in your area is key since laws can vary depending on the size and type of your moped. Get online and research what kind of license is required for the moped you’re considering.

Local regulations

Are you allowed to park mopeds on the sidewalk or secure them to a bike rack? Take a look at this interactive map (Opens in a new tab) to select your state and review moped rules and regulations specific to where you live. Laws on helmets and registration are important to understand as well.

License plate laws

Does your DMV require you to have a license plate? If so, you’re also going to need to get annual tags.

Restricted access laws

Will the moped you’re considering be allowed on country roads or other high speed routes? Mopeds over a given engine size that are able to go the minimum speed limit may be allowed.

Speed-related categories

Many states consider larger mopeds and scooters to be motorcycles. If you’re thinking about getting an engine over a specified size, typically around 50 ccs, you may need to study up and take your state’s motorcycle licensing exam or pass a road test. Similar to learning how to drive, you’ll have to apply for a learner’s permit first.

Research the VIN

Are you purchasing a used moped? If so, consider performing a vehicle history and title search on the moped with instaVIN (Opens in a new tab) or CarFax (Opens in a new tab)before you buy it. This will help ensure that there aren’t any outstanding liens on the vehicle. Other issues, like a theft or an accident, in its history should be taken seriously.

Finding a Moped to Buy

Now that you’re up to speed on local laws, it’s time to shop for a moped that fits your needs. Much like buying a car, you’ll want to do your homework and test ride a variety of mopeds before making your purchase. Follow these guidelines to ensure you’re taking the right steps when searching for a moped to buy:

Try before you buy

Moped renting is a great way to get to know what kind of moped suits you. Having one for a few days will really give you an idea of what to expect. Most rental groups will offer a variety of makes and models that can help you feel out the one that’s right for you.

Find financing online

Most moped dealers will offer financing, but it can pay to apply online and know that you’ve got as good a rate as possible when you’re at the dealership. With financing in hand, you may be able to negotiate for a period of 0% interest or get a lower interest rate. Having financing in place also frees you up to buy from a private party without having to worry about finding the money.

Consider your options

Buying from a dealer can be a great way to know that you’re getting a new moped that can be serviced locally when necessary, but you may be missing out on other ways to find a great ride. Shop online at Craigslist, eBay and Facebook especially around the end of the school year if you’re in a college town. Students leaving your area may be willing to offer a big discount on the moped you’ve been looking for.

Purchase with care

If you’re buying from a private party, remember to contact your insurance agent and ask about coverage while you’re test riding. Take a photo of the vehicle identification number (VIN) at that time. Then start it up and take it for a test ride! If a moped isn’t starting up, it’s probably not worth buying. And purchasing no-name or exotic brands might cause trouble when it comes time to find replacement parts, so be sure to consider those wisely.

Gear up

Once you’ve purchased your moped, you’re going to need some protective gear to keep you safe. Road conditions that are easy to manage in a car can become a challenge on two wheels. Source strong, weather-resistant outerwear that can keep you warm on cold nights. Always wear long protective jackets, pants and find a good pair of over-the-ankle boots in addition to a helmet and goggles. It pays to travel with rain gear, too.

Do You Need Insurance for a Moped?

If you buy a moped that has a top speed of 30 mph or an engine of at least 50 cubic centimeters, you’ll need motorcycle insurance. Read more about insurance for mopeds or scooters.

Upon deciding to get a moped, it’s time to get in touch with your insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) to confirm you're covered. Your agent will make sure you have a custom motorcycle policy that meets your unique needs. You’re going to find that being well-insured gives you peace of mind to ride freely.

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    Checking social media

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    Eating behind the wheel

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