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Old 04-07-2013, 08:52 PM
J&T J&T started this thread
 
Location: Australia
20 posts, read 23,822 times
Reputation: 18

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I'm moving to the US in July (from Australia), and will need to buy a car pretty quickly once I get there.

Currently, here in Aus, I have a 2005 MY06 Mitsubishi Lancer sedan (I also had a 2005 MY05 Lancer back in 2009). Great car, very reliable, had no problems (I've had it since September 2011). Uses a bit more fuel than I'd like, but oh well. I don't do much in the way of outdoor things here, mostly because I can't afford things like kayaks, nor do we have snow to go snowboarding, and it's usually too damn hot to want to go camping. But these are things I really want to do more in the US, so I'd like a more suitable car.

I've been interested in Subaru's for awhile - I was actually looking for a Subaru Forester here before I came across the MY06 Lancer at a really good price. I've been looking on Craigslist & cars.com for them, and they aren't quite in my budget for the newer models, but older models are. I've found mostly 04's or lower that fit in my budget (probably about $7000-7500). BUT - I've heard the head gaskets need replacing on the 02-04 models (or even newer as well) which can cost a lot so that's something I want to avoid having to pay extra for. I'm pretty set on a Forester, seems like it would suit my needs. Spacious, can put the dog in the back, kayak on top, camping gear would fit, etc. As well as driving in snow - need something good. I am open to other alternatives on cars though, something similar. Mitsubishi Outlander I liked - but read they don't have much power compared to cars like the Foresters. But even like a RAV4, Ford Escape etc, something of the sort. Cheaper side, but good. Low mileage and newer year model would be ideal... But quality for price is good.

I'm not sure how much you can bargain on the prices there, or what you need to be looking for when looking at used cars. I've been told they don't take care of their cars as well there as they do here (regular proper services etc), so it's hard to know if it really is legit/problematic etc. Finding the situation all a bit stressful, as I don't know what to look. I feel as though if I walk into a used car dealer place, I'll definitely be ripped off. I'm only a young female, so probably an easy target for a car dealer to rip off!
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Old 04-07-2013, 09:40 PM
 
15,574 posts, read 27,301,161 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J&T View Post
I'm not sure how much you can bargain on the prices there, or what you need to be looking for when looking at used cars. I've been told they don't take care of their cars as well there as they do here (regular proper services etc), so it's hard to know if it really is legit/problematic etc. Finding the situation all a bit stressful, as I don't know what to look. I feel as though if I walk into a used car dealer place, I'll definitely be ripped off. I'm only a young female, so probably an easy target for a car dealer to rip off!
A few hints:

1) In most transactions in the US, there is NO haggling. In the car purchasing price, there is a tremendous amount of haggle. For example, a few years ago, I was looking at a USED car that the dealer was asking US$6995. My offer was $4,000. We ended up at $5,200.

2) If you go to a "no haggle" place like Carmax, you will pay more. PERIOD. You may get a short warranty period.

3) Some vehicles are well maintained. Others are not. If you are buying USED, you should take it to an INDEPENDENT repair shop for an examination before purchase - NO MATTER WHAT THE DEALER SAYS.

4) There are any numbers of good sources of information for used car prices - KKB, Edmunds, etc. They are SOMEWHAT accurate.

5) All that "women get ripped off" is bunk. You have the money. If someone does not treat you right or tries to rip you off, ask for the sales manager. Or leave. No salesman can afford to lose prospects.

6) Used car prices are VERY high right now as very few NEW cars were sold in 2008-2010 and many of the older cars were sold in a government buyback program. In some cases, used car prices are 50% higher than 5 years ago (and I am talking AUCTION prices). In other words, it MIGHT be better to buy a NEW vehicle. Then, you do not have to worry about condition or getting a great price. (New car prices are much easier to research.)

Hope that helps.
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:30 PM
J&T J&T started this thread
 
Location: Australia
20 posts, read 23,822 times
Reputation: 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlawrence01 View Post
A few hints:

1) In most transactions in the US, there is NO haggling. In the car purchasing price, there is a tremendous amount of haggle. For example, a few years ago, I was looking at a USED car that the dealer was asking US$6995. My offer was $4,000. We ended up at $5,200.
Wow, you got a lot off the price! If I could get some of the $9000 prices down from the newer models to closer to $7500 it would be amazing!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlawrence01 View Post
3) Some vehicles are well maintained. Others are not. If you are buying USED, you should take it to an INDEPENDENT repair shop for an examination before purchase - NO MATTER WHAT THE DEALER SAYS.
So you take the car yourself off the lot to an independent place? They let you do that? Even if the dealer disagrees?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlawrence01 View Post
5) All that "women get ripped off" is bunk. You have the money. If someone does not treat you right or tries to rip you off, ask for the sales manager. Or leave. No salesman can afford to lose prospects.
I didn't mean just ripped off cause I'm a woman - but because I'm new to the country, and have no idea how things work there yet with things like this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlawrence01 View Post
6) Used car prices are VERY high right now as very few NEW cars were sold in 2008-2010 and many of the older cars were sold in a government buyback program. In some cases, used car prices are 50% higher than 5 years ago (and I am talking AUCTION prices). In other words, it MIGHT be better to buy a NEW vehicle. Then, you do not have to worry about condition or getting a great price. (New car prices are much easier to research.)
Ah, that makes sense. I remember looking several years ago and prices were so cheap compared to here but lately they seem to be closer to prices here. I'd love a new car - but I'll have no credit history/rating, and wouldn't be approved for any loans or anything either. I'd just have the cash from selling my car here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jlawrence01 View Post
Hope that helps.
Helped lots, thanks!
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Old 04-07-2013, 10:57 PM
 
Location: Texas
5,721 posts, read 16,590,836 times
Reputation: 11148
I would suggest waiting until you get to where you are going to live before buying. The process varies from state to state. In Texas, for an example, you must show proof of insurance before you can take possession of a vehicle. You can buy it but you can't have it until it's insured. If buying used or from an individual, the license plates must be turned in when the car title is transferred. New plates are issued but you must have an insurance card that shows you have liability insurance or you now have a car with no license plates. Besides the cost of the car, you pay taxes on the purchase price. If you move to another state or buy it and title it in a another state, when you get to where you intend to live you'll be paying taxes again and for license plates. Plates in Texas are about 75 buck round numbers- some more some less. If you buy a car in Texas and move permanent residence to California, they have stricter emissions regulations. Your car will have to meet their requirements so it's best if living in Kalifornia to buy in Kalifornia. Otherwise, you'll be spending bucks to get it updated and that can get expensive. Some states have inspections that are required every year, some have no inspections. Some have testing of the exhaust emissions, some don't. Just depends on where yer going to live. Even buying new, not all cars/trucks meet Kalifornia emissions so the car makers have Kalifornia emissions packages that are sold only in Kalifornia. Being from Oz, the state of residency may require you to take a driving test. That would include the written test and driving test. They would want to know you recognize our types of road signage. You'll also find that going from state to state that the road signage in some really sucks and others you couldn't get lost even if you were asleep. Considering you haven't lived here, it's gonna be heckofa culture shock but welcome anyway.
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:55 AM
J&T J&T started this thread
 
Location: Australia
20 posts, read 23,822 times
Reputation: 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrapperL View Post
I would suggest waiting until you get to where you are going to live before buying. The process varies from state to state. In Texas, for an example, you must show proof of insurance before you can take possession of a vehicle. You can buy it but you can't have it until it's insured. If buying used or from an individual, the license plates must be turned in when the car title is transferred. New plates are issued but you must have an insurance card that shows you have liability insurance or you now have a car with no license plates. Besides the cost of the car, you pay taxes on the purchase price. If you move to another state or buy it and title it in a another state, when you get to where you intend to live you'll be paying taxes again and for license plates. Plates in Texas are about 75 buck round numbers- some more some less. If you buy a car in Texas and move permanent residence to California, they have stricter emissions regulations. Your car will have to meet their requirements so it's best if living in Kalifornia to buy in Kalifornia. Otherwise, you'll be spending bucks to get it updated and that can get expensive. Some states have inspections that are required every year, some have no inspections. Some have testing of the exhaust emissions, some don't. Just depends on where yer going to live. Even buying new, not all cars/trucks meet Kalifornia emissions so the car makers have Kalifornia emissions packages that are sold only in Kalifornia. Being from Oz, the state of residency may require you to take a driving test. That would include the written test and driving test. They would want to know you recognize our types of road signage. You'll also find that going from state to state that the road signage in some really sucks and others you couldn't get lost even if you were asleep. Considering you haven't lived here, it's gonna be heckofa culture shock but welcome anyway.
Oh wow, I didn't know about the emissions stuff! Interesting!

The problem I have is I don't know where I'll be living permanently.. I'll be staying in Texas for a few weeks with family, and wanted to buy a car there cause I figured there'd be more range and option, cause then I'll be staying with family in Arkansas... in the middle of no where. So unless I want a big truck, I doubt I'll find what I'm after car wise near my family in Arkansas. BUT. From my arriving in the US, I have just about a month before I have to be set up in Nebraska where I'll be going to college for a semester or two (not sure if two yet). SO - I was told you can have your 'residency' in one state, and get some kind of thing where you don't have to get a new state licence & plates on your car if you're coming to the state for school? Cause I won't be staying in Nebraska. Once my semester or two is up, I'll be going back to Arkansas to stay with family for awhile again... Before choosing my next location... (probably California!). Does your insurance only go by state? So if I bought insurance in Texas, it would still cover me in Arkansas & Nebraska? So I could buy a car in Texas, get insurance, and take it to Arkansas, change the plates to AR plates, get an Arkansas license (yeah - I have to do the written AND practical exam, we asked), then go to school in NE temporarily, without changing my state license or car plates??

It's all so confusing! Haha.

And - it won't be too much of a culture shock , my step-dad is from Texas. Been going there every year for Christmas since I was 8 .. I just don't know all the extra stuff like buying cars there haha. Very excited to be moving there though, finally!
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:15 AM
 
4,690 posts, read 9,201,329 times
Reputation: 14800
I'm going to work from the bottom up here...

Insurance is on you and the vehicle, generally the State where it is registered requires that you have insurance that's recognized/sold within that state (there are some companies who've behaved badly and been banned from doing business in some states ~ not a common thing though so not something you should worry about).

If you're a full-time student (15 credit hours), then you are exempt from needing to do a local drivers license and car plates. Nothing to do for that either, though if you were stopped and given a citation, you'd just need to provide proof that you were a full-time student at the time. You don't generally see Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) pulling over cars just for their out-of-state plates though.

So, that leaves where you want to register the vehicle... I imagine that AR is cheaper than TX, but that's something to research. If you choose AR, you should be able to have your family in TX buy you a 30-day temporary vehicle tag to use while in TX and AR before transferring the title and getting the vehicle registered.

Now, for the meat of the original question. IMHO, coming fresh off the boat I don't think you'd do very well in picking a good car from the general used market. The deck is just stacked against you. I'd suggest you start looking for an independent mechanic that services the cars you're interested in (Subaru, Mitsu, etc...) and call them to ask if they know of any vehicles that are for sale. I don't know of any mechanics who ignore when their customers talk about changing vehicles, as the type of person who has a good relationship with their mechanic tends to take care of their car. Those mechanics act as fantastic middle-men, getting you ~ a potential customer ~ and their existing customer together so you can both be happy/get what you need while the mechanic gives himself (herself) the opportunity to gain a new customer. The cars will generally be in good repair, though you should still have someone else give it a PPI (Pr-Purchase Inspection). I've had excellent luck with using this site to find mechanics:

Mechanics Files | Car Talk

Normally, I use them for inspecting a car that's a few states away from myself before purchase, but I haven't been surprised or disappointed yet. The other option is to try and find a web forum dedicated to the car you're interested and asking for help with finding a mechanic near your folks in TX. Enthusiast sites are also really good places for buying cars, and the geeks and freaks who frequent those types of places tend to be obsessed with the vehicle (speaking from personal experience here). The Mitsu is a bit more 'tuner crowd' (think Fast and Furious) here, but the Subaru guys.. Especially those who would have a Forrester, are going to be detail oriented, function over form kinda people.

I'd also suggest looking nationally for the right car (or at least in a wider region than just one state, or one county in one state). If it's in a major city, one-way flights are usually under $200 and the drive back ought to be enjoyable for someone new to the US. Heck, it's enjoyable to someone born and raised in the US, who's already seen all 50 states. Granted, I do it with motorcycles most often (called a 'fly and ride'), but I've done 2 cars that way as well.

Good luck with the hunt.
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:39 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
29,759 posts, read 72,569,025 times
Reputation: 37237
1. Stay away from dealerships. You will pay $2000 more, and you have little liklihood of getting a true history of the car. Buying from owners is harder and takes more mork, but it is much safer.

2. Get the car checked out. Take no excuses. If they will not allow you to take the car to your mecanic for an inspection, they either know or suspect something is wrong with it.

3. Used cars are never perfect, do not look for a perfect car or you will look forever.

4. If you will finance the car, get your finance from a credit union and have it in place up front.

5. If you find a good car at a fair price, buy it immediately (after having it checked out, or make the purchase contingent on having it checked out). If you wait, it will be gone.

6. Never go look at a car alone. Some bad guys offer a great deal and have you come to their shady location. Then they take your car and money and in some instances kill you too. Go with someone, look at cars in public places.

7. Find a nice well made Aussie car, like the Pontiac G-8. They make great cars over there.

8. Be patient. Do not settle because you have looked at a lot fo cars without success. The right car will come along. Better to wait a while for the right car, than to drive something you do nto like for the next 5 -15 years.
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:48 AM
 
Location: Central Texas
13,719 posts, read 28,417,443 times
Reputation: 9250
The Subaru Forester is an excellent used car. As recommended above it is always a good idea to have it inspected by a mechanic skilled in that vehicle. It will cost about $100 for a PPI (Pre-purchase inspection). Most people don't bother with this but there would be nothing worse than buying a vehicle with a hidden problem expensive to repair. If you bought from a dealer that provided a reasonable warranty that might be an alternative.

Good used cars are expensive now. The weak economy over the last few years caused people to hold on to their cars for longer than usual, which tightened the supply. And those who needed a car but couldn't spend as much as usual shopped for used cars, which increased demand. So prices are relatively high. Some think it will ease up in the coming year as the economy picks up. New car sales are strong, which should increase the number of trade-ins.

A good vehicle to consider used is a Ford Escape. It is a compact SUV. It is not as good overall as a Subaru, Toyota, or Honda, but it is still solid and easy to find. Sold in front wheel drive and all wheel drive versions. Both 4 cylinder (sluggish) and 6 cylinder (peppy).

I would not buy a Mitsubishi. The brand is slowly dying in the US. Dealers are less common.

I would avoid Jeep Liberty, Jeep Patriot, Jeep Compass, and any Dodge SUVs. They are badly made, not reliable, and thirsty.
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:27 PM
J&T J&T started this thread
 
Location: Australia
20 posts, read 23,822 times
Reputation: 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian_M View Post
If you're a full-time student (15 credit hours), then you are exempt from needing to do a local drivers license and car plates. Nothing to do for that either, though if you were stopped and given a citation, you'd just need to provide proof that you were a full-time student at the time. You don't generally see Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs) pulling over cars just for their out-of-state plates though.
I will be a full time student - but at 12 credit hours. Full-time at the school I'll be going to is supposedly is 12-15 credit hours? So would the 12 still count..? Not 15?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian_M View Post
So, that leaves where you want to register the vehicle... I imagine that AR is cheaper than TX, but that's something to research. If you choose AR, you should be able to have your family in TX buy you a 30-day temporary vehicle tag to use while in TX and AR before transferring the title and getting the vehicle registered.
Probably is cheaper - but I had a hard time finding what I was looking for there unless I'm after a big truck! The 30-day temporary tag sounds good too, didn't know you could do that!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian_M View Post
Now, for the meat of the original question. IMHO, coming fresh off the boat I don't think you'd do very well in picking a good car from the general used market. The deck is just stacked against you. I'd suggest you start looking for an independent mechanic that services the cars you're interested in (Subaru, Mitsu, etc...) and call them to ask if they know of any vehicles that are for sale. I don't know of any mechanics who ignore when their customers talk about changing vehicles, as the type of person who has a good relationship with their mechanic tends to take care of their car. Those mechanics act as fantastic middle-men, getting you ~ a potential customer ~ and their existing customer together so you can both be happy/get what you need while the mechanic gives himself (herself) the opportunity to gain a new customer. The cars will generally be in good repair, though you should still have someone else give it a PPI (Pr-Purchase Inspection). I've had excellent luck with using this site to find mechanics:

Mechanics Files | Car Talk
That idea sounds very interesting! The car would be taken care of if they have a regular mechanic, good thinking! I'll have a look around that site.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian_M View Post
Normally, I use them for inspecting a car that's a few states away from myself before purchase, but I haven't been surprised or disappointed yet. The other option is to try and find a web forum dedicated to the car you're interested and asking for help with finding a mechanic near your folks in TX. Enthusiast sites are also really good places for buying cars, and the geeks and freaks who frequent those types of places tend to be obsessed with the vehicle (speaking from personal experience here). The Mitsu is a bit more 'tuner crowd' (think Fast and Furious) here, but the Subaru guys.. Especially those who would have a Forrester, are going to be detail oriented, function over form kinda people.
I read your post last night and went to sign up on the Forester forums - although registration banned me for some reason, so I emailed the administrator.. Hopefully that's worked out soon. But I browsed their posts - not many at the moment for sale but people also post 'bargains' they find on Craigslist and stuff so definitely worth keeping an eye out on there!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian_M View Post
I'd also suggest looking nationally for the right car (or at least in a wider region than just one state, or one county in one state). If it's in a major city, one-way flights are usually under $200 and the drive back ought to be enjoyable for someone new to the US. Heck, it's enjoyable to someone born and raised in the US, who's already seen all 50 states. Granted, I do it with motorcycles most often (called a 'fly and ride'), but I've done 2 cars that way as well.
Only problem with looking nationally is I still won't have a license for awhile. Makes it harder to be able to drive a car back.. I'm definitely looking forward to a lot of road trips though! But probably not until I'm more comfortable driving on the other side of the road :P

Thanks for your help!
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:33 PM
J&T J&T started this thread
 
Location: Australia
20 posts, read 23,822 times
Reputation: 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
1. Stay away from dealerships. You will pay $2000 more, and you have little liklihood of getting a true history of the car. Buying from owners is harder and takes more mork, but it is much safer.

2. Get the car checked out. Take no excuses. If they will not allow you to take the car to your mecanic for an inspection, they either know or suspect something is wrong with it.

3. Used cars are never perfect, do not look for a perfect car or you will look forever.

4. If you will finance the car, get your finance from a credit union and have it in place up front.

5. If you find a good car at a fair price, buy it immediately (after having it checked out, or make the purchase contingent on having it checked out). If you wait, it will be gone.

6. Never go look at a car alone. Some bad guys offer a great deal and have you come to their shady location. Then they take your car and money and in some instances kill you too. Go with someone, look at cars in public places.

7. Find a nice well made Aussie car, like the Pontiac G-8. They make great cars over there.

8. Be patient. Do not settle because you have looked at a lot fo cars without success. The right car will come along. Better to wait a while for the right car, than to drive something you do nto like for the next 5 -15 years.
Thanks - creeped me out a bit with the "take your car and money and kill you too"! Hopefully my step-dad will come with me to look at all the cars, but I don't know yet! :S



- How much mileage should I be looking for on a car? Whenever I find one with over 100k miles my mother tells me that's too much, and the car is too old .....
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